Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Global Warming: Risk assessment

Like in all science a moral reason to do something is not a sufficient reason (assuming the absence of universal morals). I want to dismiss any moral argument from global warming when working with the science of the situation.

When discussing future outcomes there are often uncertainties. Global warming has its fair share of opposition. Despite this if the chance of an outcome is deemed to present negative results we work to preventing it, even if there is no guarantee it will occur.


To err on the side of caution

Risk prevention is a booming business. A large part of the global warming argument is about risk assessment. The fact it could occur is enough reason to prepare and act accordingly.


This is still a value judgement on controlling outcomes on nature towards how we believe nature should be ordered. Perhaps we have the right to do so because the problem is of our own design in the first place.

Here we fall back into the trap of assuming accountability of our actions. Which is a social benefit but not a universal necessity.

Regardless, science is often tasked with risk assessment as we step forward into the future. If we try to remove morality from the equation, we are left with the more objective category of cost/benefit analysis. However, the focus here is still economically anthropocentric, and thus subject to imposed values.


Where to from here?

Despite all this I believe in acting on human accelerated global warming. Not because there is an innate reason to do so. But as a matter of choice. Not for any universal reason, but because non-renewable energy is not a long term investment environmentally, economically or practically.

Regardless of the outcomes of global warming, practices like the burning of fossil fuels which can be incredibly cost effective are not long term solutions for human societies energy needs (Morse 2013).

This too however is a value judgement. The idea that human society should prosper or persist is not a universal necessity. Unfortunately, in the absence of any universal reason nothing actually truly matters.

That said, even if there is no universal reason to care about the effects humans have on climate change there is equally no reason why we should not care, the outcome is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

But the outcome does matter to us as a species, even if our existence is arbitrary, so I believe it is perfectly acceptable to choose to care for things that would benefit us as a species. Things like maintaining diversity, limiting rapid change and planning for the future. It is here that science is the greatest benefit to us.

Either way we can do something about it and the changes we would need to make only serve to benefit us in the future. Logically it is the smarter choice to make but not a necessary one.

There is no right way to solve this problem but we do get to choose.



Australian Greenhouse Office 2006, Climate change impacts and risk management – A guide for business and government, Australian Government Department of the Environment, retrieved 8 May 2016, <;.

Boudreaux, M 2014, Risk Assessment 101: Do it right the first time and every time, Mireaux Management Solutions, retrieved 8 May 2016, <;.

Morse, E 2013, Non-renewable energy, National Geographic, retrieved 8 May 2016, <;.


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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Geelong - Wednesday 3pm.

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