Climate justice, small island developing states & cultural loss
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- Zellentin, A. Climatic Change (2015) 133: 491. doi:10.1007/s10584-015-1410-6
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This contribution looks at those Small Island Developing States that are doomed to disappear due to anthropogenic climate change. The citizens of these states will not only lose their physical homeland but also their social structure and cultural community. The focus here is on cultural loss. While its subjective importance is easy to grasp, it is harder to see cultural loss as a matter of justice. This paper first presents an account of why cultural loss is often seen as merely unfortunate but not unjust. Against these worries, the paper argues that we have a right that no one threatens our social bases of self-respect and that societal cultures are one important base of self-respect. The discussion concludes that anthropogenic climate change affects peoples’ rights with regard to the cultural dimension and that therefore adaptation efforts ought to protect the social bases of self-respect of those climate refugees whose physical, political, and cultural existence is threatened by our inability to keep emissions below safe levels.