This research titled, “The Environmental impactof Global Warming and its Mitigation Strategies”, focuses on the ethical issues arising from global warming and especially the implications of mitigation and adaptation on the least advantaged globally. Global warming is primarily attributable to the increased burning of fossil fuels in both developed and developing nations and is considerably destroying the Earth‟s climate. This research observes that harmful climatic effects resulting from this phenomenon are today experienced mostly by the least developed countries. Those who have contributed least to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are suffering the worst climatic effects.

This research uses Garrett Hardin‟s famous thesis The Tragedy of the Commons as its theoretical framework. Hardin observed that people tend to over-exploit a commonly owned resource resulting in its eventual ruin. In this study, earth‟s climate is “the commons” under threat of destruction by global warming. Based on Hardin‟s thesis, this study begins by exploring the ethical implications of harmful climatic effects arising from the burning of fossil fuels and the inadequate capacity of poor countries in arresting these effects. This study examines climate-science and its epistemic status in light of the ethical issues claimed to follow from global warming. This is followed by an examination of mitigation strategies developed over time and the Environmental impactof the responsibility we have today of industrializing while averting harmful climatic effects on the poor and potential harm to future generations.

The research then examines the Kyoto Protocol, the most notable international agreement crafted to address global warming and its effects. This Protocol proposed reductions in greenhouse emissions and mitigation mechanisms by nation-states to save the world from further heating and catastrophic climatic effects. The research observes that the implementation of this protocol has been, and is still, controversial as it is not binding on all nations and is therefore insufficient in abating global warming.

With regard to mitigation mechanisms proposed under this Protocol, this research observes that the least advantaged countries have inadequate capacities of implementing these measures at the expense of their economic progress while many developed nations are reluctant to intensify mitigation efforts despite having the means. This situation represents the stretching of commonly owned resources by a growing and industrializing population similar to the addition of extra herds in a limited pasture espoused by Hardin. The research concludes by recommending joint efforts by all nations in mitigating global warming through carbon-capture techniques and the use and development of renewable energy sources in addition to formulation of a much stronger binding framework committing state-parties to lower their emissions for the sake of present and future generations. These efforts will go a long way in saving and protecting our global commons-the climate.

1.1 Background to the Research
Today it is widely accepted that global warming is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind. Since the turn of the 21st century, climatic changes have brought to the fore the reality of the environmental crisis man faces. There is growing empirical evidence that the Earth‟s climate is changing for the worse and humanity has to deal with the resulting adverse effects (Bjornberg, 2011, p. 671). These effects not only hurt the poorest in society across the globe but will potentially harm future generations as well. This is in part as a result of growing human population and disregard for environmental conservation and by extension global climate similar to addition of extra herds in a pasture with limited foliage.

Since the Industrial Revolution, going tandem with a growing population in a world with limited resources, man has made great technological and economic strides. This means that natural resources are being exploited for the purpose of raising living standards. This pursuit of economic growth has improved living standards and avails more material goods and services for everyone raising economic fortunes for the least advantaged globally. However, in addition to economic growth is the tendency of each individual to pursue his own best interest.

Economic growth in this context is contributing to increased personal freedom- everyone acting as he/she pleases without regard for others including future generations.

This gives rise to the present ethical dilemmas- humans exploiting natural resources to the extent of depletion and pollution of the environment and potentially harming future generations. The result of this is negative climatic effects being witnessed today arising from the ruin of commonly owned resources similar to the increase and over-use of the communal farm in Garrett Hardin‟s thesis The Tragedy of the Commons (Goudie, 1987, p. 249, Larkin, 1993, p. 209).

Garrett Hardin, whose theory guides this research, was born on April, 21, 1915 in Texas. He was an eminent American biologist who studied at Stanford University where he earned a Ph.D. in Microbial Ecology. As a leading ecological thinker, he wrote and stressed on the need for setting limits on population growth, restrictions on American immigration and advocated for birth control as well as supported abortion. He speculated that famine, wars, genocide could all be viewed from an evolutionary perspective as a natural means of population control. His seminal paper The Tragedy of the Commons, first published in 1968, cited the problem of world over-population and the resultant environmental degradation as its two core themes (www.anb.org/articles/16/16- 03570.html). Using these themes, this research examines the Environmental impacthuman generations present and future face in addressing global warming, climate change and its mitigation.

In this research, by climate change, refers to long-term changes in weather factors such as humidity, precipitation, cloudiness and winds. These, change in quantity from time to time however of all quantities, temperature changes are the most affected by human-induced industrial actions (Dessler, 2006, p. 47). Temperatures are warming as a result of air pollution and the volume of pollutants we are pouring into the atmosphere hence global warming (Flannery, 2005, p. 3). These pollutants are Greenhouse gas emissions. By atmosphere, we are raising the question of a global commons. That is, all resources owned by man in common such as air, oceans and so on (McCay, 1990, xii).

With Earth‟s climate warming, the resultant negative impacts include increasing air and ocean temperatures, melting of glaciers and ice, rising sea levels, biodiversity loss, desertification, water scarcity, global food availability, resource depletion, waste and energy insecurity (Becker, 2013, p. 38). The commons are under threat including global climate (McCay, 1990, xvi, Hardin, 1968, p. 1243).

With global temperature levels gradually rising, and climatic variations happening on the other hand, extreme weather conditions are now worldwide with people facing many weather-related challenges (Gupta, 2001, p. 2). This is unsurprising given the laissez faire attitude humanity exhibits towards global climate in the quest for economic progress and industrialization. This evidence of climate change has led to the propounding of various solutions such as government intervention to drastic ones such as privatization of certain commons (McCay, 1990, p. 1).

At present, those who have contributed least to carbon emissions in the past, suffer and will likely suffer the most from climate change in the future. These are poor developing countries and the poor in the developed world as well and this has ethical implications because rich nations, sustain high economic growth and technology by industrialization emitting the most greenhouse gases (Baatz, 2013, pp. 94-110). This is a situation in which, global climate like the Hardinian communal farm has been polluted by carbon emissions to the point of destruction. Mitigation of global warming and its negative effects poses an ethical dilemma on the welfare of citizens of both developed and developing nations and people to come in future.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Many people today are dying from negative effects of climate change such as recurrent droughts, floods, and changes in rainfall patterns among others. Others yet to be born will die from these effects. This research seeks to critically evaluate the Environmental impactposed by global warming and its mitigation on human populations by evaluating whether or not the developed and rich nation-states are perpetrating injustice on the world‟s poorest. The problem under study is that of human population increasing by the day, over-exploiting fossil fuels and generating tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere to the extent that negative climatic effects have arisen. These negative effects are in turn hurting the vulnerable today and have the potential of harming future generations. Our global climate as our “commons” is being ruined more so by industrialization and the burning of fossil fuels.

Moreover, this research explores the ethical dilemma attributable to the reality and challenges arising from mitigating global warming at the expense of current and or future living standards. This means for example: abandoning the use of fossil fuels responsible for global warming, reduction in goods consumption especially those responsible for environmental pollution and job losses in industrial sectors. The benefits of such sacrifices are beneficial for future generations who will have an improved environment and climate. This however means a level of suffering for present generations. This is the ethical dilemma of balancing between the need to mitigate global warming while slowing down socio-economic progress today or advancing industrialization for better living standards for the present and future generations to come regardless of its effect on global climate.

1.3 Research Objectives
This research seeks:
1. To examine the phenomenon of global warming and the ethical dilemma it poses on present and future generations.

2. Attempt to address the Environmental impact posed to present and future generations by global warming and its mitigation by proposing a stronger binding framework.

1.4 Research Questions
1. Arising from the literature and theoretical framework, this research seeks to answer the following questions:

2. What Environmental impact do global warming and its effects pose on present and future generations?

3. What measures ought to be used to mitigate/avert global warming and address these Environmental impact without harming the society at the same time?

1.5 Justification of the Research
Today, most of the human impacts on global climate are due to carbon dioxide emissions, both industrial and agricultural, water vapor, overgrazing, thermal pollution, diversion of fresh waters into oceans, affecting its salinity and freezing point, deforestation, among others. Humans are negatively changing both their environment and climate (Becker, 2013, p. 38, Goudie, 1987, p. 277). They are stretching commonly owned resources and over-exploiting some like fossil fuels to the extent of ruining global climate akin to the famers in Hardin‟s farm with limited verdure.

On the other hand, there are challenges posed by mitigation efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. These have the ability of harming poor countries which are striving to grow economically and reduce the prevalent poverty of their citizens. Another challenge faced is the evident unwillingness by already “developed” nations to pay the cost of climate change mitigation. This study is therefore justified given the fact that ethical principles at present point to the conclusion that the costs of mitigating global warming ought, at least, initially to be borne by wealthy industrialized countries (Baer, et al, 2010, pp. 215).

This research is further justified by the fact that efforts of mitigating global warming on the other hand have high costs. In fact, to some, curbing greenhouse gases will result in economic losses for present generations, while to others we can solve the problem at a manageable cost. Climate scientist and philosopher Stephen Gardiner for example, observes that as of 2003, the United States administration had put in place an energy plan that would see the construction of 1300 new power plants in 20 years. This energy plan meant the creation of thousands of jobs, more power, hence greater industrialization, more production, better living standards and much more. On the flip side however, these power plants would boost her per capita greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3% (Gardiner, 2010, p. 12). Therefore, cutting emissions would have reverse effects for the United States, potentially lowering living standards! From this example, this research is justified in exploring what effects global warming and its mitigation might have on diverse nations-states especially the least advantaged globally.

This research is also justified by the fact that not all nation-states agree to put in place mechanisms that will limit the amount of GHGs emitted. This has ethical implications because they ought to do so as well as assist the least developed nations in mitigation efforts for the sake of present and future generations.

1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Research
With the effects of global warming being felt, majority of scientists and policy makers believe it is now a reality despite there being some controversy. In addition, if the warming continues, the very existence of life on Earth is threatened. In the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of the year 2001 it is observed

that „global average surface temperature has increased over the 20th century by about 0.6°C. According to the report, the 1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the instrumental record since 1861 (Gardiner, 2010, p. 5).

From the above information, this research recognizes the interdisciplinary nature of the global warming debate as being more than just scientific. Therefore we will evaluate moral arguments in the global warming debate. Ethically, there are proponents who argue that based on economic costs, the developed world and especially the United Sates, ought to bear the highest mitigation costs whereas other philosophers argue there is little individuals can do to stem negative effects arising from global warming. In addition, there are arguments that the current costs of mitigation are way too high in comparison with benefits and there ought to be a balance between sustainable development and global warming mitigation (Attfield, 2012, p. 56, Sinnott-Armstrong, 2010, p. 232, Gardiner, 2010, p. 10). It therefore follows that morally, those responsible for the greatest global carbon emissions owe it to those who will suffer adverse climatic effects now and in future. These responsibilities are central to the scope of this research.

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