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Snapshots of the Future: Darfur, Katrina, and Maple Sugar (Climate Change, the Less Well-off and Business Ethics)

Edward J. Romar
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 85, Supplement 1: 14th Annual Vincentian International Conference on Justice for the Poor: A Global Business Ethics (2009), pp. 121-132
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40294826
Page Count: 12
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Snapshots of the Future: Darfur, Katrina, and Maple Sugar (Climate Change, the Less Well-off and Business Ethics)
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Abstract

Climate change represents a significant challenge to the entire planet and its inhabitants. While few, if any, will be able to escape totally the effects of climate change, it will fall most heavily, at least initially, on the poor, regardless of where they reside. We may observe already possible scenarios. The tragic situation in Darfur may be less an ethnic conflict and more a clash between marginal farmers and herdsmen in an increasingly more arid local climate. More powerful storms on the scale of hurricane Katrina, which affected the poor more than other economic groups, may become commonplace. The alteration of the maple sugar cycle may be a harbinger of stress on the world's flora and fauna that humanity depends upon. Mainstream climatologists have concluded that human behavior, primarily the effects of industrialization, causes human-induced climate change. Left unchecked climate change will have serious consequences for humanity, especially the poor. Business, the primary agent of industrialization, is both the problem and the solution. This paper will apply the ethics of philosophers John Rawls (the difference principle), Robert Nozick (the Lockean Proviso, climate is a natural resource), and Aristotle, along with the work of strategist Michael Porter. Understanding how climate change management fits into a firm's strategic opportunity will contribute to the ability of business to develop the technologies and business processes necessary to cope with climate change. The paper will conclude with a brief discussion of GE's Ecomagination program as an example of a promising moral response to climate change.

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