Climate will have such a profound effect on the earth that we will need to reconsider our relationship with the natural environment. That’s why many environmental activists are now being drawn to an evolving philosophical stance on the topic, shifting away from an approach that is simply political, scientific or economic.
“There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology,” Pope Francis said in Laudato Si, the papal encyclical released last summer. Francis rejected both an anthropocentric view that accepts all human desires and a misanthropic view that wishes people would disappear. To find solutions for climate change and other environmental challenges, we need to focus on the morality of our actions, including questions of fairness and obligation.
That understanding was on display during the debates at last month’s climate change negotiations in Paris. After failing to come to an accord in previous meetings, diplomats succeeded in Paris because they crafted an agreement that allowed each nation to decide its own response to climate change rather than dictating a prescribed set of regulations.