Why & How (Not) To Care For The Climate

Michael Northcott, from the University of Edinburgh, gave the third plenary talk on Saturday at the climate change conference.

  • Fossil fuels are a subterreanian forest.
  • Capitalism is run on underground stored carbon. Burning it threatens the 10k years of climate stability in which civilizations have endured.
  • Deforestation is responsible for more than 20% of annual carbon emissions.
  • Inequity is the central ethical feature of climate change.
  • The earth system makes neighbours of the rich & the poor.
  • Neighbours have moral duties of care & love but distance diminishes the sense of duty.
  • How do we get over the distance? “We believe in the communion of saints” Duties across time & space.
  • The atmosphere is a common realm. Commons are traditionally managed by communities.
  • Neoliberalism is the current regnant business & economic ideology.
  • It sustains the idea that there are only two devices – states or markets – for managing collective goods.
  • Climate change is about the strong oppressing the weak.
  • Money is a construct which emerges out of human & ecological relationships. It gives dominion over people.
  • Real wealth is relational.
  • We need monetary accounts that reflect real-world events.
  • Forest people look on carbon trading as another attempt at colonial landgrabbing.


"Ultimately, movement is only as valuable as your commitment to stillness, and vice versa."

Pico Iyer

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