Strond: White Horse Press (1992)
Since the last ice age, when ice enveloped most of the northern continents, the earth has warmed by about five degrees. Within a century, it is likely to warm by another four or five. This revolution in our climate will have immense and mostly harmful effects on the lives of people not yet born. We are inflicting this harm on our descendants by dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We can mitigate the harm a little by taking measures to control our emissions of these gases, and to adapt to the changes by, for instance, building sea walls around coastlines threatened by rising sea levels. But these measures will be very expensive, and the costs will be born by us, the present generation, whereas the benefits will come to future generations. How much should we sacrifice for the sake of the future? Economists and philosophers have independently worked on the question of our responsibility to future generations. This book brings their work together and applies it to global warming. It suggests a programme for future research on the economic and ethical issues. The book is intended for economists, and for philosophers and other social scientists who have a little knowledge of economic methods.