The Philosophy of Global Warming

If you are interested in global warming, climate change, the environmental crisis, and the relationship between humans and the rest of life on Earth, then I am sure that you will like my new book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'. In the post below I have provided the book description, the list of contents and the first two sections of the book. You can find out how to get hold of the book by clicking on this link:

The Philosophy of Global Warming

Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Two Paths Facing Humanity

Here is an excerpt from my book  'The Philosophy of Global Warming'

We are living at an exceptionally important time, a unique moment in the evolution of the planet. Humanity stands at a crossroads and the future is uncertain. There are two possible paths that we can take. One path leads to a glorious and wonderful future, the other leads to death and destruction. Which path will we tread?

Many people know that we are at a crossroads; they see the two paths stretching into the future. They know that one path leads to a glorious and wonderful future and that the other leads to death and destruction. However, the paths are not transparently labelled; they are not labelled ‘path to a wonderful future’ and ‘path to destruction’; if they were the choice of path would be extremely easy. Is it obvious which path leads to which destination? Many people believe that it is. A great many people are certain that one particular path is the path to a glorious and wonderful future; these people are passionately attempting to convince us to walk along this path. This is why I am concerned about the future. We should remember that all that glistens is not gold; what seems obvious at first sight can be wrong, fatally wrong. It is clear to me that the path these people seek actually leads to death and destruction.

What is one to do when one sees good-intentioned people seeking to shepherd humanity along a path which leads to the death and destruction not only of the human species, but of all life on Earth? One could just sit back and do nothing. Alternatively, one can seek to illuminate the true nature of the two paths so that destruction can be avoided and the path to a glorious future can be trodden. Let us seek this illumination.

The Two Paths

What is the nature of these two paths? The two paths represent different ways in which humanity can interact with the Earth in the future. The choice of path is a very serious affair. There is little more serious than the issue of whether one’s species goes extinct and one’s planetary home becomes lifeless. Let us choose our path with extreme care.

The two paths are characterised by the amount of involvement humanity has with the rest of the Earth. The first path involves minimalizing involvement. This path has many aspects such as restricting the size of the human population, restricting the human appropriation of the Earth’s resources and restricting the deployment of human technology. Those who urge us to tread this path believe that human involvement with the Earth is already too high. These people believe that a high level of future human involvement is a negative thing, both for the human species itself and for the non-human life-forms which we share the planet with. This view is underpinned by the belief that the optimum state of the Earth is one in which human involvement is minimised because humans are fundamentally destructive. Through their greed, their appropriation of the Earth’s resources, their technology, humans are seen as a danger to both themselves and to the non-human life-forms of the Earth. Let us refer to this path as the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path. The extreme advocates of this view seek absolute minimization – the voluntary extinction of the human species for the good of the Earth. However, the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path more typically involves calls for restrictions, and a general pulling back of human involvement with the ‘non-human’, rather than absolute minimization. I refer to this path as ‘minimalizing involvement’ because minimization is the underpinning ideal. In reality, very few advocates of this path think that involvement should actually be absolutely minimized through the voluntary self-extinction of the human species. All advocates of the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path believe that significantly reducing human involvement with the Earth would be a good thing. In the specific realm of global warming this ‘wide’ path is enshrined in the narrower Path 1 which we identified in the Introduction and Chapter One.

The second path is obviously very different; it involves much more human involvement with the Earth. However, it does not involve ‘maximizing involvement’. Absolute maximization would entail humans actively and intentionally utilising, manipulating and moulding every single part of the Earth. Whilst there are those who advocate absolute minimization, I am not aware of anyone who advocates absolute maximization. Indeed, the notion barely even makes any sense (humans would need to be moulding and manipulating every life-form, every ocean, every part of every ocean, volcanoes, the inner core of the planet, etc.). The second path does not entail either absolute maximization or any weaker type of maximization; maximization is not an ideal underpinning the view. The second path involves significantly increasing human involvement with the Earth, but this is a far cry from maximization.

There are two reasons why one might advocate treading this path. Firstly, one might tread this path with regret because one believes that humanity has perturbed the biogeochemical cycles of the Earth to such an extent that our future survival depends on deepening our involvement. For instance, one might love to tread the first ‘minimalizing involvement’ path, but one believes that human-induced global warming is a serious threat to the future survival of the human species and that it can only be dealt with by geoengineering the temperature of the atmosphere; so, one decides to tread the second path with regret; given the reality of the situation we face, this is the best path to take. Secondly, one might joyously skip and jump along the second path. In other words, one believes that significantly increasing human involvement with the Earth is actually a good thing, a positive event which benefits not only the human species but also the totality that is life on Earth. Let us refer to this path as the ‘increasing involvement’ path. The advocates of this path believe that significantly increasing human involvement with the Earth would be a good thing – either good solely for humanity or good for the totality of life on Earth. In the specific realm of global warming this ‘wide’ path is enshrined in the narrower Path 2 which we identified in the Introduction and Chapter One.

Which of the two paths should we tread?

The Crossroads

Before one can see the true nature of the two paths one needs to clearly see the journey that has led to the crossroads. If one is at the crossroads and is unable to see the entire journey which has led to the crossroads – the journey of the Earth and the journey of the Solar System – then it is unlikely that one will make a good choice of path: ‘minimalizing involvement’ or ‘increasing involvement’. One could
get lucky and just happen to pick the right path, the path to a wonderful future rather than the path to death and destruction. However, if one cannot see the entire journey which has led to the crossroads then one will not have the tools with which to make a properly informed decision. This means that one could easily select the wrong path, and given the seriousness of the choice this would be a terrible outcome. Furthermore, and worryingly, given the nature of the two paths, it is likely that one’s lack of backwards vision will result in one choosing what I believe to be the wrong path. As we saw in the Introduction there is a simplistic instinctive response that Path 1 – the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path – is the path to a glorious and wonderful future. A little knowledge can clearly be a dangerous thing. Let us expand our knowledge; let us move beyond the simplistic instinctive response; let us consider the journey that led to the crossroads.

Understanding the past will help us to select the right path in the present.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Discussion about Human Nature and Suffering

 I thought I would share with you some more objections to my philosophy, and my replies to these objections. These objections are on the theme of human nature and suffering.

Objector:   Humanity is evil because it displaces the rest of creation.

NPC:   Any life-form that exists displaces some other form of life / some other part of creation. That is just a simple fact; an inevitability of being a complex life-form that exists on the Earth and that therefore needs to consume other forms of life in order to survive. As the population size of a life-form increases, as with humans, then other life-forms are typically displaced to an increasing degree. So, we agree that "humanity displaces the rest of creation". How could anyone disagree?!

Let us move from this simple fact to your judgement that this displacement is evil. This is seemingly where we disagree. The 'evil' view of human existence currently pervades the news, the television, politics and business, so it is not surprising that so many people have that view implanted into them. 

The 'evil' view is an attractive view, after all, the human displacement of other life-forms on the Earth has involved terrible suffering, mass murder of our fellow creatures, and exploitation and pain and suffering on a barely imaginable scale. However, rejecting the 'evil' view of human existence does not mean that one rejoices in this terrible suffering and exploitation. Rather, one can see that this is just the terrible predicament that being 'human' entails. On the view that has arisen within me the 'human' is that part of an evolving planet that brings forth technology for the good of life as a whole. This role on the planet means that life causes great harm to itself, via the human, for its own benefit. Being that part of life that is human involves inflicting immense suffering on oneself (because all life is one, so causing suffering to the non-human is effectively harming one's brothers, one's babies, oneself).

To be human is not a bed of roses. How can humanity be happy and sane when it inflicts such pain on itself?! It is not surprising that so many people kill themselves, it is not surprising that the mental homes are full of 'insane' people, it is not surprising that so many people are desperately unhappy and turn to crime and drugs. Humans endure all of this suffering, the greatest suffering on the planet and the greatest suffering in the universe, for the good of life as a whole. That which makes humans human, the separation from the non-human, is the inevitable bringer of suffering to the human. So, to be human is not to be 'evil', it is to be that part of the evolving planet which suffers greatly in order to be the saviour of life on the planet.

Objector:   You talk about human suffering and how it is related to our relationship with nonhuman life. Us humans, as a species, are destroying other forms of life, often inflicting great suffering on them in the process; and while there may be many people in poverty around the world, and many humans in all walks of life who suffer personally for various reasons, there seem to be very few who are overtly suffering because of the suffering and destruction being inflicted upon nonhuman life.

NPC:   You seem to be thinking about human suffering in terms of individual humans. You wonder what the exact reasons are why a particular person suffers and how is this related to the suffering and destruction the humans inflict upon nonhuman life. I am making a more general point. I am coming from the perspective of the entire planet as it evolves on its journey as a life-bearing planet flowing through an ageing Solar System. Before humans evolved there was suffering and destruction on the planet. At a certain point in the evolution of the planet the 'human' evolved (what exactly this means, what exactly the 'human' is, we don't need to get into now). All that we need to appreciate is that at this point, the point of the evolution of the human, immense suffering also evolved. Suffering came into existence that was of a different magnitude to that which came before. This suffering is not because of humans causing suffering to non-human life. This suffering exists because to be human is to suffer. Some people might say that this is because humans are the only form of life to have self-consciousness, or that they are the only form of life to have advanced rationality and therefore mental torture, self-doubt, and problems of ego/self-image. For me, the foundations of human suffering are separation from the rest of life that is caused and inherent to being the technological animal = human.

Objector:   How can our arrogant, ignorant, unnecessary, and ultimately suicidal human destructiveness be considered "an expression of the very essence of life"?

NPC:   The essence of life is obviously hard to express in words. We can think of life, since it arose on the Earth, as a force which seeks to modify, expand, propagate, dominate, push forward, strive upwards and onwards, as much as is physically possible. So, simple life-forms evolve into more complex life-forms which have a greater modification ability. This primitive force reached its zenith in the technological abilities of humans.

Objector:   We are on the brink of a considerable knocking-down of planetary diversity, however, as has happened in the 5 previous extinction events, we will have a relatively life-impoverished planet for some millions of years until life elaborates itself again, probably without human beings in the picture.

NPC:  Your extrapolation from the outcomes of past mass extinctions, to a forecast about the outcome of a future mass extinction, is flawed because it ignores the changing state of planetary dynamics. One cannot simply say that because life has bounced back in the past that it always will do so in the future. This is like a 90 year old human saying: "When I was 20 I was able to run a mile in 4 minutes, when I was 25 I was able to run a mile in 4 minutes, when I was 35 I was able to run a mile in 4 minutes; therefore, when I am 100 I will be able to run a mile in 4 minutes." The mistake is simply to believe that past events and outcomes will be repeated in the future. This isn't always true on an evolving life-bearing planet which is homeostatically regulating itself in an evolving cosmos. 

Objector:   I have to take issue with your assertion that: "Any life-form that exists displaces some other form of life . . . That is just a simple fact; an inevitability of being a complex life-form that exists on the Earth and that therefore needs to consume other forms of life in order to survive. As the population size of a life-form increases, as with humans, then other life-forms are typically displaced to an increasing degree." 

While it is true that life needs other life to survive, we humans are capable of making ethical choices, and we can choose in what way and to what degree we displace other life or cause it to suffer. People can choose to "eat lower on the food chain," reducing animal suffering and their ecological footprint at the same time, for example. And why assume that a species with the power of choice must maintain a population that continually "increases"? We are capable, as a species, of deciding to limit the size of our families just as we are capable of deciding to reduce the amount of carbon and other GHG we spew into the atmosphere. It is not "a fact" that we humans have to continue along the same trajectory that we've been following; to do so, or not, is an ethical choice, and that is the "fact."

NPC:   I think here we simply have a disagreement about the extent to which humans as individuals, and human culture in general, is determined by freedom. You will be aware that there is extensive literature on the issue of the extent to which an individual human has free will or not, and there is a similar literature on the slightly different question of whether or not the overall trajectory of human cultural evolution is 'determined in advance' or could be changed by 'human free will'. It is obvious to me that human free will is severely limited at best, and that the trajectory of cultural evolution from hunter gatherer to globalised technological society will occur on any successful life bearing planet. I presume that you disagree with this. On my view the scope for humans who lived in the past to make ethical choices to life in a way which didn't displace other life, or cause it to suffer, was non-existent. Never going to happen. You seem to want to believe that this could have happened. When we switch from the past to the future, then I am happy to accept the possibility that at a later stage of the evolution of the Earth/Solar System the time will be right for human freedom to exist in a more meaningful sense. 

So, what you say is a "fact", isn't obviously a fact.


Monday, 1 December 2014

The Philosophy of Global Warming - Documentary Film

I am hoping to make a documentary film which is based on my book The Philosophy of Global Warming. I have set up a Kickstarter project in order to help make this possibility a reality. Here is the project page where details of the project can be found:

If you know of anyone who might be interested in helping to make this film a reality then it would be great if you could let them know about it.




Sunday, 23 November 2014

The link between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations & global warming

There is currently still much debate concerning the link between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and global warming. Many global warming sceptics seem to have the following belief:

* Over the past 10/20 years atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been steadily rising, yet there has been no rise in the average global atmospheric temperature over this period, therefore rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations do not cause global warming.

Such a view is simplistic and misplaced. There is no simple correlation between the two phenomena wherein a change in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations automatically results in higher atmospheric temperatures. There are multiple factors affecting atmospheric temperature, and these factors intertwine in complex ways through unfolding and varying time-lag processes (I go into this in my book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'). What this means is that there will be a 'jumpy' relationship between the two phenomena, a relationship that is characterised not by automatic responses, but by the building up of forces which are yet to be manifest (again, see my book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming' for more on this).

In short, the regulatory systems of the planet have become increasingly perturbed by human activities, through an ever increasing force for global warming. This force is the culmination of multiple phenomena interacting in complex ways both spatially and temporally. To be blinded to this reality, to base one's reasoning on a simple relationship between two phenomena over an exceptionally short period of time, is intellectually indefensible.

The ever increasing force for global warming, which is still growing in strength every day, every week, every year, is what we should be focused on. To focus on the link, over the past 10/20 years, between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and atmospheric temperatures, is to miss the wood for the trees, it is to concentrate on the tip of an iceberg and to ignore Antarctica.

Periodic increasing global temperatures are simply the tip of an iceberg, when we should be concentrating on 'Antarctica', the massive force for global warming. Because of the lack of a simple correlation between perturbation of the Earth's regulatory cycles, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and atmospheric temperatures, what this means is that the situation is very dangerous. This is because the factors which are determining the future state of the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere are not 'out in the open' and clear to see. Rather than there being a process which we can easily control - a process in which gradually rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations lead to a gradually increasing temperature - the reality is that a prolonged system of perturbation will lead to a sudden system shift wherein the atmospheric temperature instantaneously jumps upwards to a new steady state, this could be to a level which makes most of the planet inhospitable for human habitation.

In other words, steady atmospheric temperatures, accompanied by short-term rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, can give the outward appearance that everything is okay, that there is nothing to worry about. However, the reality that lies beneath this outward facade is that the force for global warming is continuously increasing in strength and the conditions are forming which are set to lead to a substantial jump in the planetary atmospheric temperature (unless this force is offset by the active geoengineering of the atmospheric temperature).


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Climate Protests

A couple of days ago “the biggest ever environmental demonstration took place in which hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in 2,000 rallies, marches and protests in 150 countries to demand greater action on climate change” (‘Investors pledge to take money out of firms blamed for climate change’ by Tom Bawden, the i newspaper, 22 September 2014, p. 9).

This raises a couple of questions:


1  Why were so many people were marching?


2  What outcome do these people hope to attain?


Let us start with the first question. There are, of course, a plethora of reasons why people were marching. Some people will have been persuaded to go by their friends; some people were taken by their parents; some people will have thought it would be good to have a day out and to have a stroll with likeminded people; many people just like to protest, they will protest over almost anything! However, I am sure that it is likely that most people who were marching shared one reason in common. This is that they want to make the planet a better place; they care both about the existence of life on Earth and the quality of life of Earthly life-forms. They believe that things are going pear-shaped, that humans are ‘destroying the planet through causing global warming’, so they have decided to march to try and make things better. They believe they are marching to avert global warming and thereby ‘save the planet’.

This brings us to our second question. The outcome that the marchers want to attain is to avert global warming and thereby ‘save the planet’. This leads us to another question: Why do the marchers believe that humans are ‘messing things up’ and that the planet needs to be saved? The marchers obviously have this idea because it has been ‘implanted’ in them because of assertions made by scientists and dispersed through the media. Scientists have claimed that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are rising, that this is a force for global warming, that global warming isn’t a good thing for life on Earth, and that human activities have caused rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. This view gets propagated through the media, and it obviously causes many people who care about life on Earth to go on marches.

This scientific story (in bold above) is widely taken to lead to one conclusion. This conclusion is that humans have disrupted the planet (things were fine before those destructive humans started plundering the planet!) and therefore that in order to deal with the situation human greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced. So, if you ask any of the marchers what outcome they hope to obtain though marching for action on global warming, you will get a standard reply: “we want the governments of the world to take action to reduce fossil fuel emissions; we want financial institutions to take their money out of the firms who have caused the problem (global warming) and reinvest in green energy through the ‘dirty energy divestment campaign’.”

The problem is that the scientific story that these people have bought into is very limited in scope. The human presence on the planet needs to be seen on many levels and from many perspectives and the scientific story ignores most of these perspectives. When one sees the bigger picture then one can see that creating a future planet on which human and non-human life-forms can thrive, in the face of global warming, does not require cutting fossil fuel emissions; it requires actively technologically regulating the atmospheric temperature. There are many reasons why this is so, one of the primary ones being that the primary force for global warming on the planet is non-human-induced global warming, not human-induced global warming.

Seeing that attempting to deal with global warming through cutting fossil fuel emissions is a waste of time can be difficult. When hearing this most people almost automatically reject the idea due to their scientific/media ‘mental programming’; they instantly raise lots of objections. To help people see why this is so I wrote my very lengthy book The Philosophy of Global Warming and I included a lengthy dialogue section which includes these objections and the answers to them.

Marching to avert global warming is a good thing. However, achieving this objective will not be attained by cutting fossil fuel emissions. So, marches which have the objective of cutting fossil fuel emissions are fundamentally misplaced. Averting global warming requires widespread and sustained action to technologically regulate the atmospheric temperature. Let us hope that in the future people march for this.


Thursday, 31 July 2014

What is the Philosophy of Global Warming?

The science of global warming is wholly concerned with measurements and with numbers. In other words, it is concerned with measuring instruments, the numbers recorded by these instruments, and with data of other kinds. There are measurements for current atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, for past atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, for changes in polar ice cover, for sea level rise, for atmosphere-ocean interactions; there are also numerical projections for future emissions, for future greenhouse gas concentrations, and for the future temperature and climate in various parts of the planet.

The question of extreme importance is: Can measurements and numbers be a sufficient basis for a course of action? In other words, can one’s personal actions, or the actions of the human species, appropriately be wholly grounded in measurements/numbers? It seems obvious to me that the answer is no. Numbers are useful but they cannot themselves determine an appropriate course of action. For example, a scientific measurement-derived number might be that there is a 95% chance of precipitation in the area in which I live. This is a useful number to know about, but it doesn’t wholly determine whether I will take a particular course of action. In order to come to a decision about what course of action I will take a whole host of other non-scientific, non-numerical factors need to be considered. It could be that in the past whenever it has precipitated I have had great fun standing outside for hours enjoying every moment that the delicate raindrops come into contact with my skin; in this case the scientific number could cause me to change my course of action so that I have time to go outside later in the day. However, it could be that I cannot stand the rain; in this case the scientific number will lead to other possible actions, such as taking my umbrella with me when I leave the house, or changing my plans so that I can stay at home all day and don’t have to venture outside.

A number is just a number. A measurement is just a measurement. One cannot move straight from a number or a measurement to a conclusion concerning an appropriate course of action. In the case of global warming, one cannot move straight from the scientific measurements and numbers relating to the phenomenon to a conclusion concerning the appropriate human response. Strictly speaking, a measurement or number cannot even reveal that there is a problem. The fact there is a 95% chance of precipitation is not a problem to me if I enjoy precipitation or if I dislike it but intend to stay inside all day. Similarly, the fact that human activities have resulted in increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations is only a problem if one adds to the measurement the assumption that the future survival and wellbeing of the human species and the other life-forms of the Earth is important. However, I will assume that you agree with me that the future survival and wellbeing of human and non-human life on Earth is important. This means that we can fruitfully speak of there being a scientifically-revealed problem; it is just that the nature of the solution to the problem is not automatically generated by the scientific measurements and

Finding the appropriate solution to the problem revealed by the science of global warming requires a consideration of a whole range of non-scientific non-numerical factors. What exactly are these factors? These factors are philosophical in nature and jointly constitute the philosophy of global warming. These factors will be explored throughout the rest of this book and include the following:



·       The fact that there are two types of global warming (non-human-induced and human-induced) and the relationship between them.


·       The question of whether the evolution of human culture has a particular trajectory, a trajectory which includes the environmental crisis and human-induced global warming as essential parts.


·       The nature of the relationship between the human species and non-human life on Earth.


·       The cosmic, and planetary, significance of technology.


·       The extent to which humans, individually and collectively, have freedom to evolve differently to the way that they actually evolve.


·       The nature of the Universe, the Solar System, and the Earth; the way that they evolve through time and the way that they ‘interact’ with each other.



·         The relationship between technology, spirituality and the environmental crisis.


·       The diverse aspects of the environmental crisis – climate change, sustainability, global warming, biodiversity loss, resource depletion and care for the environment.


In the Introduction we saw that there are two ways in which humans might be able to stop carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere from rising too much:


Path 1:   Humans stop emitting, or radically reduce emissions of, carbon into the atmosphere.


Path 2:    Humans use technology to regulate the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The appropriate choice of path requires a consideration of the range of philosophical factors outlined above. If one does not fully engage with these factors, if people en masse lazily opt for Path 1, then the consequences will be adverse if it turns out to be the wrong path. In the next chapter we will take a step backwards and consider the nature of the two paths themselves. These two paths are a particular expression of two ‘wider’ paths, two general views of the appropriate relationship between the human species and the non-human Earth. In the next chapter the two specific paths outlined above are placed within the context of their ‘wider’ paths. In the rest of the book we will consider at length the factors outlined above and in so doing our hope will be that the appropriate path will reveal itself.

This post is an excerpt from Chapter One of my book:

The Philosophy of Global Warming


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Philosophy of Global Warming

I am happy to let you know that my most comprehensive work 'The Philosophy of Global Warming' has now been published. In this post I have provided a lot of information about the book - the book outline, the list of contents, and the first two sections of the book.
When you read the 'Introduction' section you will see that I describe "the instinctive, almost childlike, response" that pervades contemporary thought concerning global warming (that 'Path 1' – emissions reduction – is the appropriate solution to the problem). This "instinctive, almost childlike, response" was in evidence again on the front page of The Observer two days ago:
  •  "top climate-change experts will warn that ONLY greater use of renewable energy - including windfarms - can prevent a global catastrophe."
  •  "Mitigation of Climate Change, by the UN's Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel of 200 scientists, will make it clear that by far the most realistic option for the future is to triple or even quadruple the use of renewable power plants. ONLY through such decisive action will carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere be kept below the critical level of 480 parts per million (ppm), before the middle of the century. If levels go beyond this figure, the chances of curtailing global mayhem are poor, they will say."
('UN urges huge increase in green energy to avert climate disaster', Robin Mckie & Toby Helm, The Observer, 13 April 2014, p. 1)
I have capitalised the word 'only' in both of these quotes in order to highlight the widespread existence of "the instinctive, almost childlike, response". It is not a surprise that this report was written by 200 scientists. All of these people are, no doubt, science-obsessed, thinking within narrow conceptual parameters, and utterly unaware of, but badly in need of, the philosophy of global warming!
This is my most comprehensive and definitive work. In it you will learn:
What the philosophy of global warming is and why it is of great importance.
Why the decision-making process concerning the appropriate human response to global warming requires a consideration of the evolutionary forces which propel the planet.
Why cutting fossil fuel emissions is a futile exercise.
What the human species is and how it relates to the non-human life-forms of the Earth.
Why the human species has a special place in the universe and how this is related to global warming.
What it means to say that your life has a purpose.
Why the evolution of technology and the evolution of spirituality are deeply interconnected.
Why there is an urgent need for the technological regulation of the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.
The book has 3 parts. Part 1 contains 12 chapters each of which contains a particular theme which is of relevance to the philosophy of global warming. Taken as a whole this part of the book can be thought of as providing a detailed overview of my philosophical worldview. Part 2 is a lengthy dialogue in which I respond to an Objector who poses 86 questions, queries and objections relating to my philosophical worldview. Part 3 contains 37 articles which expand on particular topics relating to the philosophy of global warming. I hope that by the end of the book you will have a clear understanding concerning your, and our, place in the universe and how this relates to global warming.

The Purpose of This Book



1  What is the Philosophy of Global Warming?
2  The Two Paths Facing Humanity

Two Types of Global Warming
4  The History of Our Solar System

5  What is Life?
6  What is the Human Species?

7  Technology and the Environmental Crisis
8  Why Life Benefits From Technology

9  Is the Damage Already Done?

10  The Evolutionary Processes Which Propel the Planet
11  Humans in the Cosmos

12  The Interplay between Technology and Spirituality



A plethora of objections, questions and queries relating to my philosophical worldview are posed and answered


Was the Cosmic Bringing Forth of Humans ‘Inevitable’?

Two Routes to the Need for Geoengineering

The Need for Geoengineering

The Nature of the Universe
Links between My Philosophy & the Buddhist Theory of Atoms

The GreenSpirit Journal Comments on ITHSS

The First Book Critiquing ITHSS

Ahead of the Curve

The Need for a New View of Humans in the Cosmos


Human Population & the Environmental Crisis

The Growing Realisation of the Need for Geoengineering the GMST

Humans and Other Animals

Animals Think like Humans

Earth ‘Four Years from Disaster’

The Futility of Emissions Cuts

Prepare for Extreme Global Warming

Emissions Cuts: The Gap between Ambition & Reality

Accelerating Polar Ice Melting & Geoengineering

Evolution versus Creationism

The Calm before the Carbon Storm

Perceptions of Global Warming

Global Warming: Perceptions, Responses & Energy Policy

Global Warming & the Anthropocentric and Ecocentric Attitudes

George Monbiot on Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations Reaching 400ppm

The Three Questions & the Philosophical Worldview

The Environmental Crisis & the Colonization of Space

Technology and Stewardship

The Inevitability of Geoengineering

The Conceptual Framing of Geoengineering

The Technological Healers of the Earth

The Concept of ‘Future Generations’

Is Fracking Good or Bad?

Extreme Weather Events & Global Warming

How Much of Man is Natural?

Friedrich Hölderlin and the Environmental Crisis

Friedrich Hölderlin: A Final Reflection

Further Reading

Keeping in Contact



The purpose of this book is to get you to think about the philosophy of global warming. I am very hopeful that the information that is presented will change how you perceive the human presence on the Earth. I am hoping that you will conclude that the human presence on the planet is a positive one, a sign that the Earth, life, and even the Solar System, is positively thriving. I have three main reasons for hoping to convince you of this.
Firstly, I sincerely believe it to be true, and as a deeply philosophical person I simply have the desire to express the truth and to help other people to see the truth. You might be curious as to the source of my beliefs. Furthermore, you might be thinking, are my beliefs just my beliefs or are they ‘the truth’? All I can really say on this is that the beliefs and views that I outline in this book seem to me to arise from an episode of direct personal insight which was backed up by subsequent knowledge acquired from the insight and work of others. I am not an expert on the phenomenon of direct personal insight, of personal revelation into the truths of the universe, but I believe that it is possible that the universe can directly endow individuals who are in a certain state (a state of ‘receptivity’) with certain truths about itself. Perhaps such an endowment was the catalyst for my move into academia in my mid-twenties. My childhood years were spent in the deepest depths of the Cornish countryside, surrounded by thousands of trees and very few people. In my mid-twenties I had been living on a very small island, which is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, for a number of years. Again, as with my childhood years, I was surrounded mainly by non-human nature, the powerful ocean waves, the sometimes fierce weather, the plentiful beaches and the wilderness. After several years of doing a menial, unfulfilling and soul-destroying job on this island something changed within me, some kind of awakening occurred. There arose within me a new sense of openness; I spent time just looking at my surroundings, really looking; things appeared slightly differently than they did before, more alive, more vibrant. Questions and insights bubbled up within me and I had little choice but to seek to follow their lead. These initial experiences and questions led to a journey of well over a decade; a journey that involved attaining a first class BSc in Environmental Studies, an MA in Philosophy, a PhD in Philosophy, an international writing prize, conference speeches in Venice and Marburg, and finally, this book.
Secondly, I am slightly concerned by the increasing dominance of the view that the human presence on the planet is a destructive one. This view increasingly pervades the media, the arts, culture, various academic disciplines, politics and even religion. I recently attended a conference where there were speakers from a variety of religions and I was surprised by what they said. Not a single speaker had anything positive to say about human existence; there was talk of environmental destruction, overpopulation, and it was even suggested that the theological talk of a special place for the human species on the planet (the view of human dominion) was a view that needed to be rejected. According to this increasingly dominant view humans are, at best, just one species among many, and at worst they are the despicable destroyers of life. This view concerns me because it has led to movements such as the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) which was founded in 1991. If it is widely accepted that the human presence on the planet is a negative one, and that there are too many humans on the planet, then it seems increasingly likely that plans will be instigated to cull the human species; in other words, billions of people could ultimately be needlessly killed (I don’t know exactly how this might be done, or who might do it, but I know there are people who think this would be desirable and who think about how it could be done; there are even people who think that it is already being done). Needless mass murder based on a false philosophy is something that I would like to see averted.
Thirdly, if the place of the human species on the Earth that I outline in this book is widely accepted, then a range of positive outcomes can result. We can celebrate our uniqueness, celebrate the joy that we are bringing to the Earth, rather than wallowing in despair at the thought that we are seemingly destroying the planet without really wanting to. Because states such as joy and despair ripple out from all sources where they exist, a more joyous philosophy would result in a more peaceful and joyous planet. We can also increasingly appreciate the value and perspectives of all individuals, all cultures, all perspectives, all life-forms, all personalities, as each of these has a positive role to play in the glorious evolutionary unfolding of the Earth. Furthermore, the realisation of our place on the planet, our purpose as a species, can enable us to reallocate our limited resources so that this purpose is more speedily fulfilled. Currently an enormous amount of resources are wasted on global warming mitigation schemes; these resources could be more optimally allocated. The creative energies of individuals can simultaneously be optimised. The outcome of this optimisation, through speeding up the fulfilment of our purpose, would be to more speedily bring about a more sustainable and harmonious existence, an increasingly peaceful and spiritual human presence on the Earth.
I have used a variety of writing styles, perspectives and approaches to present the information in this book. There are three parts to the book. Part 1 contains twelve chapters each of which contains a particular theme which is of relevance to the philosophy of global warming. Taken as a whole this part of the book can be thought of as providing a detailed overview of my philosophical worldview. Part 2 is a dialogue in which an objector to my philosophy poses a multitude of questions/queries/concerns and I provide responses. Part 3 contains a plethora of articles each of which illuminates certain aspects of my philosophy. The reason for this three-pronged approach is that what I am trying to get you to see is complex and it involves interconnections between many different phenomena. You are also likely to come across things which violently clash with your existing beliefs. My hope is that the three-pronged approach will both help you to understand particular points, and also to comprehend the bigger picture. You might find a particular chapter irrelevant at the time of reading it, but if you are open to the possibility that every chapter, every paragraph, is but a small jigsaw piece, then by the end of Part 3 you should be able to see the complete interconnected cosmic puzzle. There might be a complete trans-formation in the way that you see the world around you. In order to get the most out of the book I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning and moving through page by page, rather than jumping ahead to various sections that seem particularly interesting. I have attempted to slowly build up an overall philosophical worldview as the book progresses; that which appears in the latter stages of the book assumes an understanding of that which comes before.


Do you believe in global warming? Do you believe that humans are the cause of this phenomenon? Do you believe that global warming poses a real threat to both humanity and to non-human life on the planet? I think it is safe to say that the majority of people would answer these questions as follows:
Do you believe in global warming?
Yes. Global warming is occurring because carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing in the atmosphere; this exacerbates the ‘greenhouse effect’ and causes global warming.
Do you believe that humans are the cause of this phenomenon?
Yes. Humans are the cause of global warming because atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have shot upwards since the start of the Industrial Revolution, as revealed by the ‘hockey stick’ graph. This has occurred because of the human use of enormous amounts of fossil fuels and also because of the human destruction of rainforests and other carbon sinks.
Do you believe that global warming poses a real threat to both humanity and to non-human life on the planet?
Yes. The polar ice will melt, sea levels will rise, the climate will significantly change, extreme weather events will become more pervasive, the food supply will be badly affected, temperature increases will make large parts of the planet (or even the entire planet) inhospitable; in short, the conditions which currently enable humans and non-human life-forms to flourish might disappear.

The reason that I think it is safe to say that the majority of people would answer these questions in such a manner is that these views are so pervasive in mainstream media, politics, culture and academia. These views, in turn, arise from the science of global warming. The scientific under-standing of global warming centres on the ‘greenhouse effect’. The ‘greenhouse effect’ is a natural phenomenon the existence of which is necessary for human existence; without it the atmosphere would be far too cold for humans to exist. The ‘greenhouse effect’ exists because green-house gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, trap the incoming infrared radiation from the Sun after it has bounced off the surface of the Earth; this trapping warms up the Earth’s atmosphere. The term the ‘greenhouse effect’ is often used to refer simply to the fact that by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere humans have exacerbated this natural pre-existing effect, thereby causing a higher atmospheric temperature than would otherwise have been the case. It is useful to keep in mind that the ‘greenhouse effect’ is a non-human effect which has been affected by humans.
The science of global warming has numerous dimensions. Scientific measurements have revealed the levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the distant past through ice cores and tree rings, and they have revealed recent and current concentrations through direct measurement. Such measurements have produced the ‘hockey stick’ graph which shows escalating atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in very recent post-industrialisation times. In this period humans have removed ‘carbon sinks’ by engaging in mass deforestation, whilst simultaneously releasing enormous amounts of fossil fuels from their under-ground storage areas. Given these activities one should not be surprised that the measurements made by scientists have produced the ‘hockey stick’ graph. Scientists are also measuring the polar ice, measuring sea levels, and producing a plethora of computer models which attempt to predict how a warmer atmosphere will change the climate in various regions of the Earth.
The science of global warming is well established. I do not doubt the science of global warming. There are those who do doubt the science of global warming. Some people claim that the ‘hockey stick’ effect of recent escalating atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is caused by ‘natural variation’ rather than by human activities. There are others who accept that humans have caused the ‘hockey stick’ effect, but deny that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations lead to global warming. There are even a few people who deny that the ‘hockey stick’ effect reflects reality, believing that it has been created by the manipulation of data by scientists. There are almost always people with minority views. I myself am convinced by the science of global warming and thus believe that human activity has resulted in an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and that such an increase leads to a warmer atmosphere through exacerbating the ‘greenhouse effect’.
This book is not about the science of global warming; it is about the bigger picture, the wider situation within which the science of global warming is situated. This wider approach is needed because science has come to dominate the debate concerning global warming, and there are other non-scientific factors which need to be considered, factors which are of crucial significance. The initial domination by science of the global warming debate was inevitable; after all, we only know about the phenomenon because of scientific enquiry. However, the time has come to widen the debate, to widen our understanding of the factors relating to the phenomenon of global warming. The time has come to fully engage with the philosophy of global warming.
Of course, non-scientific factors have already been widely discussed concerning the phenomenon of global warming. The science of global warming has established that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Since this scientific realisation occurred the phenomenon has inevitably encroached into the domains of politics, ethics, economics, psychology, business and engineering.
At the international level political leaders frequently meet to draw up protocols and to discuss how to respond to the problem. At the domestic level politicians seek favour with sections of the electorate by saying that they will respond to the problem. Environmental charities have taken up the cause and have sought their own solutions to the problem.
In the realm of ethics, discussions take place concerning who is to blame for the problem and who should bear the consequences and financial cost of dealing with the problem; the rich countries might be the historical cause of the problem, but should poorer countries be prohibited from industrialising in the same fossil-fuel intensive way? Should rich countries provide less fossil-fuel intensive technologies to the poorer industrialising countries for the sake of everyone across the planet? What is the fair thing to do?
In the realm of economics there are discussions concerning how to get countries and individuals to have lower carbon footprints; we are here in the realm of taxes, subsidies, incentives and tradable permits. Psychologists hone in on the individuals and seek to understand how they can be made to use less resources, how they can change their lifestyles, how they can come to see the connections between their individual actions and the larger planetary problem of global warming. Businesses respond to the problem through presenting an ‘environmentally friendly’ carbon-neutral face in order to attract more custom; they also seek to come up with genuine solutions to the problem such as technologies to help humans cope with a changing and more hostile climate. And engineers are working on a plethora of solutions to deal with the problem; these range from enhanced sea wall defences to technologies to pull carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere so that it can be placed (back) in underground storage.
The science of global warming has clearly encroached into a wide range of disciplines. What has yet to occur is for the nature of the ‘problem’ itself to be seriously enquired into. The ‘problem’ itself is simply a scientific fact. It is a scientific fact that the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere is regulated by the ‘greenhouse effect’ and that human activity has resulted in an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere (as I have already stated, I am convinced that this is a fact). However, a scientific fact such as this, a fact which presents a problem, doesn’t automatically simultaneously present its own solution.
A simple way of looking at the situation would be as follows:
Scientific Fact = Human activities have increased the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

Problem = If the increase is of a sufficient magnitude global warming will occur to the detriment of both human and non-human life-forms.
Solution = Humans need to stop carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere from rising too much.
This is not only a simple way of looking at things, it is also surely true. However, the important point is that what exactly the solution to the problem entails is not clear. In other words, there are two ways in which humans might be able to stop carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere from rising too much:

Path 1:   Humans stop emitting, or radically reduce emissions of, carbon into the atmosphere.

Path 2:   Humans use technology to regulate the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
I used the phrase ‘might be able to stop’ because according to one line of thought, a line of thought which is barely mentioned in the media, Path 1 is not even a possible solution. There are two different reasons why this might be so. Firstly, the damage has already been done, simply stopping now will have no effect; the action-consequence time-lags mean that carbon dioxide concentrations are set to keep on rising for the foreseeable future whatever we do now. Secondly, we simply cannot stop emitting now; the state of the world (population size and growth, economic trajectories, developing countries industrialising, state of technology) and the human dependency on cheap fossil fuel energy supplies means that Path 1 is nothing more than a pipedream, mere fanciful wishful thinking.
Despite this line of thought there is currently a widespread view which pervades the minds of most people – the politicians, the media, the activists, and the general public – that Path 1 is the solution to the problem. Despite the reality of the situation, which is carbon emissions continually rising across the world, and immense future changes already ‘locked in’ through action-consequence time-lags – Path 1 utterly dominates debates concerning the phenomenon. This seems to be the instinctive, almost childlike, response: if the problem is releasing carbon into the atmosphere, the solution has to be to stop releasing carbon into the atmosphere (Path 1).
The situation that we face is actually much more complex than is belied by this simple instinctive response. In other words, the question of which path humanity needs to adopt is a very complex question. The appropriate answer to the question requires a consideration of a wide range of both scientific and non-scientific factors. So, there is a scientifically-revealed problem which presents two possible solutions (Path 1 and Path 2). The discovery of the appropriate solution to this problem requires a careful consideration of a number of diverse factors, factors which have not yet been widely considered in relation to the problem. To find the appropriate solution we need to shift our focus from the science and delve deeply into the philosophy of global warming.

Get the whole book here: 

The Philosophy of Global Warming