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Climate Change, Vulnerability, and Responsibility


  • Chris J. Cuomo


In this essay I present an overview of the problem of climate change, with attention to issues of interest to feminists, such as the differential responsibilities of nations and the disproportionate “vulnerabilities” of females, people of color, and the economically disadvantaged in relation to climate change. I agree with others that justice requires governments, corporations, and individuals to take full responsibility for histories of pollution, and for present and future greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless I worry that an overemphasis on household and personal-sphere fossil fuel emissions distracts from attention to higher-level corporate and governmental responsibilities for addressing the problem of climate change. I argue that more attention should be placed on the higher-level responsibilities of corporations and governments, and I discuss how individuals might more effectively take responsibility for addressing global climate change, especially when corporations and governments refuse to do so.