Developed countries have a moral obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Debate Rounds (3)
Resolved: Developed countries have a moral obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change.
For the purpose of this debate I propose the following definitions. Developed countries is a term used to identify the wealthiest nations in the world, which include Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. (ww Norton & co. economics textbook) Moral obligation is a duty arising out of considerations of right and wrong (Princeton University)
For our framework, we will be using utilitarianism, which is that actions should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons. Specifically, according to utilitarian philosphers Peter Singer and Henry Sidgwick, "there are moral assertions that we recognise intuitively as true... suffering is intrinsically bad, and... people's preferences should be satisfied." To the topic, this means that mitigting the effects of climate change is neccessary for providing the greatest happiness to the most people.
Contention 1: Developed countries are largely responsible for climate change
It is common truth that industrialized nations bear more responsibility for human-induced climate change. This is because over the years, dating back to the Industrial revolution, humans have been producing greenhouse gases that have influenced Earth's atmosphere. As such it would be unfair to ask developing countries to act similarly as developed countries.
"When the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was formulated ... the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities was acknowledged. ... [T]his principle recognized that
•The largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries;
•Per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low;
•The share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet their social and development needs."(The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)
As a result, Today's developed nations are responsible for global warming and the effects of which we see today. And it is unfair to expect undeveloped world to make the same emissions reductions.
Contention 2: Developed countries are the only ones with the capabilities to act on climate change
No only do developed nation have the most to cut per capita, but they are also the only ones that have the technological advancements and resources to combat climate change. As such they have an obligation to use these resources to fix their planet. More importantly, the developed countries have the research capabilities to create the technology to make a green self-sustaining economy. For example, Italy for the first time has been able to utilize solar power to produce more electricity than wind power, thus accounting for nearly 3.2% of their total energy needs. In addition, by being at the forefront of this technology, Italy, a country constantly on the brink of economic disaster, has been able to become more stabilized and focus its energy on expanding its renewable energy market.(renewable energy world)
Further, the developed world has the finance and expertise to develop these projects and implement and manage them all around the world. As the nations with the greatest capability, the developed world has the increased responsibility to act for the betterment of all.
Contention 3: The greatest impact will come when the largest emitters of greenhouse gases make reductions.
Developed countries emit the most greenhouse gases per capita, in 2008 the US emitted 17.9 tonnes compared to China's 5.3 tons per person. If reductions are made in such nations, then we will see a much bigger impact in the climate than if it came from developing nations.
In addition, the developed countries with high CO2 emissions can reduce output through lifestyle changes. For example, biking to work instead of taking the car or cutting back on the junk food now and then. For developing nations, changes like that can not be made. They would have to change their entire economy and route to development to meat such needs even though they don't produce all that much in the first place.
In the future, these developing nations will look to the actions of the developed world to plan for their future. By combating climate change, we ensure that everyone will eventually reach a point in which we can eliminate emissions all together.
Global warming is an outcome of human activities rather than a natural disaster. Without maximum action from the developed world, all countries will be ultimately affected, including the rich countries.
Iampro forfeited this round.
My partner and I stand in firm negation of the resolution. We feel it necessary to define the following terms:
Developed Country- is a sovereign state which has a highly developed economy and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other less developed nations.
Moral Obligation- an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong. Morals are assessed based on the cost and benefits of a situation.
Climate Change- Climate change, is a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city. Climate change is also a change in Earth's overall climate. This could be a change in Earth's average temperature. -NASA
Contention 1: Humans have little effect on climate change and yet take on much of the blame for the situation.
Subpoint A:Contrary to popular belief, humans have very little effect on Earth"s changing climate. Most changes to climate are a result of geological or natural events, which we have ZERO control over. These include Solar output, Volcanism, Earth"s orbital changes, and Plate tectonics. These might seem like they make minor differences, but these are responsible for short and long term climate fluctuations, including ice ages; and it can be agreed on that a massive cooling of the Earth for ten thousand years is a major change in climate. The earth has been going through cycles of cooling and warming for the last ten thousand years, and we have evidence which shows we are actually in a global cooling, which is part of Earth"s natural patterns. Why would us humans have any sort of obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change. Climate change is a natural process which we have no control over. Trying to change a natural cycle that has been going on for million of years is completely impossible, and we have no moral obligation to do something impossible.
Subpoint B:Humans are incorrectly accused of the recent warming of the climate. However, this cycle of heating has been happening since humans weren"t even fully evolved. A quote from an article of Climate Physics states "About 450 million years ago the temperature dropped significantly even though the CO2 concentration was about 12 times higher than today. This disproves the hypothesis that CO2 causes global warming." This is also backed up scientifically. A graph titled "As carbon dioxide increases it has less warming effect" shows and explains how we can DOUBLE the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere with an almost unnoticeable increase in temperature. Increasing carbon dioxide levels also does not affect the atmosphere. This is because as the concentration of Co2 increases, so does the rate of photosynthesis, resulting in equal amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Contention 2: Climate change won"t have a major impact on human lives
Climate change as a result of human activities doesn"t have a major impact on human lives.
Conclusion: Why we aren"t obliged
Because humans are such a minor influence in climate change, we have no obligation to mitigate climate change. Why would we spend money to change the weather, and a lot of money at that. A book on globalizing renewable energy by 2030 states the cost to do so "might be on the order of $100 trillion worldwide,
over 20 years, not including transmission." Alternate forms of energy also have major drawbacks, besides being very cost heavy, and these drawbacks do developed countries more harm than good. we have no control over climate change, and even if we did there is no need to worry, as the climate is just following natural patterns.
Dubliners forfeited this round.
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