Ethics: Climate change has been described as a “perfect moral storm” because it brings together three major challenges to ethical action in a mutually reinforcing way. The first challenge stems from the fact that climate change is a truly global phenomenon. Once emitted, greenhouse gas emissions can have climate effects anywhere on the planet, regardless of their source (IPCC 2007). There are skewed vulnerabilities: at least in the short- to medium-term, many of the most vulnerable countries and people are those who have emitted the least historically, and whose emissions levels continue to be relatively low.
Paleoclimatology becomes important to study climate trends. This not only includes the collection of evidence of past climate conditions, but the investigation of the climate processes underlying these conditions. Climatic records made by humans only go back to 150 years. Scientists therefore have to depend on “proxy” sources or paleoclimatic records from glaciers, trees and sediments.
Concerns: Paleoclimatology shows that the planet is warming up faster than ever because of the vast amount of greenhouse gases that humans are pumping into the atmosphere. This includes activities such as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), driving cars and cutting down forests. Many of us have seen – and even experienced – the effects of climate change.