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Ethics in Action NYC Series: Climate Change and NYC with Professor James Hansen
Date: Thursday, March 2, 2017 (6:30 – 8:00 pm)
Location: New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 W 64th St, New York, NY 10025
Click here to register.

Description: There are few issues that can match climate change in terms of urgency and moral gravity. Each year, the planet breaks another global warming record. Each month, we hear more stories of record-breaking droughts, heat waves, floods, fires, and extreme weather events that are supposed to occur once in a generation. And each new study seems to suggest that critical triggers like melting ice caps are coming much faster than expected.

As a low-lying coastal city, New York is particularly vulnerable to human-induced climate change, and the sea-level rise and intensive storms that can result. The recent experience with Hurricane Sandy is a vivid reminder of this. Yet the real victims of climate change don’t live in New York, or indeed in the United States. They live in the world’s poorest countries. In a real sense, the world’s poor are the cannon fodder of climate change—because they live in the most vulnerable regions, have the most vulnerable livelihoods, and lack the resources to cope with the effects of climatic disruption. To add insult to injury, the poor are paying the price for the sins of the rich, the main emitters of the greenhouse gases that threaten our common home. And future generations are paying the price for the sins of the present. This is a moral issue, and the United States—with one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world—has a special obligation to act.

One thing is clear: we are on a path of increasing peril. Scientists tell us that if we stay on our current trajectory in terms of burning fossil fuels, the rise in global temperatures this century will prove catastrophic for humanity. What we have seen so far will look like a minor warm-up act. This is why the nations of the world signed the Paris Agreement in December 2015, committing themselves to move fully from fossil fuels to renewables by the second half of the century. It is why leaders from all leading religious and ethical traditions across the world are pushing strongly for the implementation of this agreement.

And yet the main impediment to climate action does not come from technology or finance. It comes rather from the lack of political will, driven by inertia, indifference, ideology, and misinformation. Opposition to action is being driven by fossil fuel companies, who in the United States have the ability to hold policymakers hostage on this issue. The solution is to overcome “financial power” with “moral power.”

At this event, Professor Jeffrey Sachs will be discussing the reality and ethical dimension of climate change—including in terms of what New York City can do to align with the Paris Agreement and decarbonize its energy system—with one of the world’s leading climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen. Dr. Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is now based at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He is best known for his testimony on climate change in the 1980s that helped raise awareness on global warming. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards including the Sophie and Blue Planet Prizes. Dr. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power and for outlining actions needed to protect the future of young people and all species on the planet.

Please join us by registering at the attached link. This event is free. Following the discussion, you will have a chance to ask questions.