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New questions in the climate change debate -- essential ethical and philosophical perspectives

Researchers from within the fields of science, the arts and theology add new perspectives to the climate change debate with the book 'Earth on Fire -- Climate Change from a Philosophical and Ethical Perspective,' now available as an open-access book

University of Copenhagen


IMAGE:  "Earth on Fire -- Climate Change from a Philosophical and Ethical Perspective, " edited by Mickey Gjerris, Christian Gamborg, Jørgen E. Olesen and Jakob Wolf. view more

Credit: @ Arne Naevra (Norway); Polar meltdown

The book aims to show how climate change raises not only a number of questions which can be answered within the scientific domain, but also many issues of a more universal nature based on philosophical, political, ethical and religious views on the world is and how it should be.

What is "good "?

The earth is on fire. So we need to both act fast and think carefully about what we are doing. The ethical questions that climate change raises may be new in their global character but behind them are still the well-known, basic universal questions such as what is "being good", what should we do and who should we consider, how should we prioritise our efforts in a situation where there are more challenges than solutions, and how do we structure the debate of climate change issues so that everybody is heard and the best arguments gain acceptance.

Lifestyle changes are necessary

Associate Professor at Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment at LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Copenhagen, Mickey Gjerris is one of the editors of the book. He says about our new situation:

"Countering climate change requires large changes to our lifestyle. Ethical thinking offers an opportunity to understand nature in a way which means that we should not only interpret these changes as a sacrifice we have to make but, rather, as an opportunity to establish a relationship to nature where protection of it is seen as a opportunity for man's further development."

Science as an integrated part of society

The authors of the book hope that it will contribute to researchers reflecting on the underlying values for discussion.

"It is important to understand that science is an integrated part of society and not an outside factor that can provide an independent description of what is happening while we are politically deciding what should be done"

"Today there is a tendency to lament the politicization of climate change research and to pretend that other researchers have an underlying agenda while you pride yourself on being firmly based on the objective foundation of science. But we all have an agenda, and the debating climate will gain by us recognising this", says Mickey Gjerris.

Free English online version

The English online version of "Earth on Fire- Climate change from a philosophical and ethical perspective", Edited by Mickey Gjerris, Christian Gamborg, Jørgen E. Olesen, Jakob Wolf, is free for all to use All the authors ask is that readers will share the existence of the book with their colleagues and fellow students so that as many as possible might benefit from it.

The book, which was published in a Danish printed version earlier this year, consists of seven chapters which show how the climate changes are rooted in our scientific, philosophical, political, ethical and religious understanding of the world, and concludes with three cases where the climate debate issues are discussed: CO2 trading, GM crops and biofuels. The cases are addressed by experts who have played a prominent role in the public debate of these topics.


"Earth on Fire - Climate change from a philosophical and ethical perspective" can be downloaded from this page: where you can also read about the various chapters and authors of the book.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Mickey Gjerris, LIFE -Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen on tel.: +45 35 28 21 65, mobile: + 45 25 37 03 85 or by

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