Justice, Posterity, and the Environment

Paperback | May 1, 2001

byWilfred Beckerman, Joanna Pasek

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In rich countries, environmental problems are seen as problems of prosperity. In poor countries they are seen as problems of poverty. This is because the environmental problems in poor countries, such as lack of clean drinking water, are problems that affect them here and now, whereas inrich countries the environmental problems that people worry about most are those that-largely as a result of prosperity and economic growth-seem likely to harm mainly future generations. But what exactly are our obligations to future generations? Are these determined by their 'rights', or intergenerational justice, or equity, or 'sustainable development'? The first part of the book argues that none of these concepts provides any guidance, but that we still have a moral obligationto take account of the interests that future generations will have. And an appraisal of probable developments suggests that, while environmental problems have to be taken seriously, our main obligation to future generations is to bequeath to them a society in which there is greater respect forbasic human rights than is the case today. Furthermore, generations are not homogeneous entities. Resources devoted to environmental protection cannot be used for, say, health care or education or housing, not to mention the urgent claims in poor countries for better food, sanitation, drinking water, shelter, and basic infrastructures toprevent or cure widespread disease. It cannot serve the interests of justice if the burden of protecting the environment for the benefit of posterity is born mainly by poorer people today.

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In rich countries, environmental problems are seen as problems of prosperity. In poor countries they are seen as problems of poverty. This is because the environmental problems in poor countries, such as lack of clean drinking water, are problems that affect them here and now, whereas inrich countries the environmental problems that...

Wilfred Beckerman is at Balliol College, Oxford. Joanna Pasek is at University College London.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:220 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.55 inPublished:May 1, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199245088

ISBN - 13:9780199245086

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Ethics and Economics in Environmental PolicyPart 1. Justice between generationsThe Rights of Future GenerationsIntergenerational JusticeIntergenerational EquitySustainable Development.How Much Richer Will Future Generations Be?Our Obligations to Future GenerationsPart 2. Justice between individualsThe Intrinsic Value of the EnvironmentPlural Values and Environmental ValuationPart 3. Justice between nationsInternational Justice and Sharing the Burden of Environmental ProtectionInternational Justice and the Environment: Climate Change and BiodiversityConclusion

Editorial Reviews

`Justice, Posterity, and the Environment provides a radical interrogation of today's environmental agenda and, through the unsettling rays of insight that it casts, offers an engaging provocation to economists, ethicists and policy-makers alike'Alan Holland, International Affairs