JULIETTE KAYYEM’S call to recognize the reality of climate change and prepare for extreme weather (“Dark clouds in State of the Union,” Op-ed, Feb. 14) is fundamentally correct, but misses the ethical issue.
Spending money on defenses against the inevitable damage from global warming will only provide local protection. But, as Kayyem notes, climate change is displacing people worldwide. The ethical challenge is this: if we have billions to spend protecting New York’s subways, is it not better to spend those funds reducing the carbon emissions that are causing the problem, thus protecting everyone in the world from Far Rockaway to Bangladesh? Isn’t that the greatest good for the greatest number?
After decades of deliberate denial about climate change, we have created a painful financial choice between adapting to new weather realities and reducing the underlying root cause. By focusing only on adaptation at the expense of reducing carbon pollution, we make a poor ethical choice.