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UD to host conference on 'Ethics of Climate Change'

The conference will include presentations and panel discussions by nationally and internationally recognized climate scientists, philosophers, economists, and ethicists on how humans should respond to climate change.

It is co-sponsored by the University of Delaware's Science, Ethics and Public Policy program, the Department of Philosophy, the University of Delaware Class of 1955 Ethics Endowment, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost and the Delaware National Science Foundation EPSCoR program. Also, the conference is supported by two organizations outside of the University, the American Philosophical Association and the Delaware Humanities Forum.

Featured speakers include John Broome of Oxford University, Kristin Shrader-Frechette of the University of Notre Dame, Robert L. Nadeau of George Mason University and Frederick Nelson of the University of Delaware.

John Broome is the White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University. His books include Counting the Cost of Global Warming (1992), Ethics Out of Economics (1999) and Weighing Lives (2004). His essay "The Ethics of Climate Change: Pay Now or Pay More Later?" appeared in the June 2008 issue of Scientific American.

Kristin Shrader-Frechette is the O'Neill Family Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Philosophy, at the University of Notre Dame. Her most recent books are Environmental Justice: Creating Equality, Reclaiming Democracy (2002), and Taking Action, Saving Lives: Our Duties to Protect Environmental and Public Health (2007).

Robert L. Nadeau is a professor of English at George Mason University. His most recent book is The Environmental Endgame: Mainstream Economics, Ecological Disaster, and Human Survival (2006).

Frederick Nelson is a professor of geography at the University of Delaware. He directs UD's Permafrost Research group and is a recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a contributing member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"Climate change is now recognized as real and damaging to interdependent earth systems, but we still haven't determined how humanity should respond," said conference organizer Tom Powers, director of the Science, Ethics and Public Policy Program. "How much should we sacrifice to meet this challenge, or might the required changes not be 'sacrifices' at all, in view of the widely criticized American lifestyle? This conference will address questions like these at the intersection of economics, philosophy and policy science."

"Obviously, there is still scientific uncertainty about what types of lifestyle modifications might alleviate the climate change problem," said co-organizer Fred Schueler, professor of philosophy at the University of Delaware. "Even if science could answer these questions at this point, we would still face moral uncertainly concerning what kinds of lives we should live and what we owe to future populations."

On-site registration begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29 and is available throughout the conference.

A full program schedule and online registration are available at


Contact: Katie Ginder-Vogel
University of Delaware

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