According to the United Nations, “Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it.” Major countries are missing the targets of a 2°C (3.8°F) global temperature increase, and, by various estimates, heading toward somewhere in the range of 3-6°C (4.7-11.4°F) average increase, with drastic and destabilizing effects on the earth’s climate. Since 1950, according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research the number of floods had increased 15-fold, extreme temperature events 20-fold, and wildfires 7-fold. These changes will continue to worsen, perhaps somewhat, perhaps much more drastically. Human-caused climate change is tremendously and, to a large extent irreversibly, damaging the habitat of our students and children, not to mention us.
Stopping the worst of the damage requires the rapid spread of the idea that climate change is a priority. We need everyone to do what they can, starting with the skills and positions each of us already has. Philosophers have a unique set of skills for thinking about complex problems. Some of these skills put us in a good position to help bring out the rapid spread of an idea, especially when the idea has a compelling rationale. We would like philosophers to use our skills to take leadership in stopping the worst effects of climate change and ensuring a sustainable future.