Climatic Change

, Volume 86, Issue 1, pp 67-82

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Parallels in reactionary argumentation in the US congressional debates on the abolition of slavery and the Kyoto Protocol

  • Marc D. DavidsonAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam Email author 


Today, the United States is as dependent on fossil fuels for its patterns of consumption and production as its South was on slavery in the mid-nineteenth century. That US congressmen tend to rationalise fossil fuel use despite climate risks to future generations just as Southern congressmen rationalised slavery despite ideals of equality is perhaps unsurprising, then. This article explores similarities between the rationalisation of slavery in the abolition debates and the rationalisation of ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases in the US congressional debates on the Kyoto Protocol.