Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement


Climate Change and Causal Inefficacy: Why Go Green When It Makes No Difference?

James Garveya1

a1 Royal Institute of Philosophy

Think of some environmentally unfriendly choices – taking the car instead of public transport or driving an SUV, just binning something recyclable, using lots of plastic bags, buying an enormous television, washing clothes in hot water, replacing something when you could make do with last year's model, heating rooms you don't use or leaving the heating high when you could put on another layer of clothing, flying for holidays, wasting food and water, eating a lot of beef, installing a patio heater, maybe even, as some have said lately, owning a dog. Think about your own choices, instances in which you take an action which enlarges your carbon footprint when you might have done otherwise without much trouble. Is there consolation in the thought that it makes no difference what you do?

(Online publication September 22 2011)