Science & Society 4
Science and Society – Climate Change Vulnerability
An important learning goal for our course is to think critically and ethically about how and by whom science is conducted, and to think about the societal impacts of biological research. To that end, please read the following excerpts and re60% of total emissions: China (21.1%), the USA (14.1%), and India (5.2%) are the largest emitters (% of total global emissions shown in parentheses). India is projected to achieve “equity” by 2030: moving from free riding in 2010 (medium blue) to equity in 2030 (cyan). In principle there are two ways for a country to move in this way: reduce emissions or endure larger costs of climate change. The primary reason India is going to change is because the costs of climate change will “catch up” to the gains from economic growth contributing to climate change. In other words, India will get richer but environmental disasters and health are likely to get worse. Comment on the ethics of achieving “equity” in this way as opposed to being achieved by reducing emissions.
3. Countries vary in both wealth—measured in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—and vulnerability to climate change:
Describe the “uneven impact of climate change” shown in this graph.
4. Converting knowledge to action: Efforts such as the Paris Climate Agreement aim to mitigate climate change through collective international action. If you were negotiating an agreement for collective action, how would you decide how much and in what ways each country should contribute and why?