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'Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change' envisions the good life in a harsher world

Climate Change (MIT Press) is a call for reorganizing both our conception of good character and our understanding of institutions to allow humans to flourish in the climate we have substantially affected for the next thousands of years.

High praise for the book as "a vision of human flourishing in a brave new world" came from Holmes Rolston, III, who is the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy from the Colorado State University and considered the father of environmental ethics.

This new world vision is described by environmental ethicists in 17 essays focused on four areas: adapting ecological restoration to new climates, integrating ecology into justice, changing human character to be responsible for our effects on the climate, and reorganizing a globally just world where people can act in virtuous ways, as opposed to remaining individually impotent.

Without these pathways for change, Bendik-Keymer sees future generations paying a dire price for inheriting our ecological mess.

"This book argues that we need to rethink ourselves and our characters to take account of the institutional and global nature of the problems to be addressed," writes Susan Neiman, director of the Einstein Forum and author of the New York Times notable book, Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grownup Idealists (2008).

Several key words emerge in this conversation's vocabulary: human flourishing, ethical adaptation, responsibility, civic engagement, restoration, character and justice.

One of the first concepts explored is restoration by conservation biologists.

The idea is now archaic, according to the contributors. Climate changes have produced conditions that humans cannot restore those environments.

"They don't or won't exist because of climate change," Bendik-Keymer says.

Second, surviving is no longer just an egocentric or individual's race for valuable resources. Ethical adaptation is about collectively u

Contact: Susan Griffith
Case Western Reserve University

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