Knowing When You've Made a Climate Difference

Abstract:

Individual denialists deny that adding any given individual’s emissions in isolation ever causes climate harms. They accept that the emissions of large groups do cause climate harms. This requires assuming a metaphysical threshold where large numbers of actions have effects but that certain subsets of those actions have no effect. Most objections to individual denialists do not grant that there could be such a threshold. Granting this assumption in order to make an internal criticism, I go on to systematically consider which kinds of justification could be made for the claim that there is a relevant difference between individuals and large groups. I find all the justifications on offer wanting partially as, from a scientific point of view, there is nothing privileged about the emissions at the level of the individual as opposed to larger or smaller levels. I discuss how a claim about the potential value of working with others could have been misconstrued as supporting the more radical claim that individuals do not make a climate difference. [Draft uploaded here]

Last updated on 10/08/2019