The Ethics of Heat: Fundamentals and Challenges in Allocating the Global Commons

The global warming dilemma provides an opportunity for the global community to ask fundamental questions about the Earth’s potential to serve human needs. This Note examines whether a community ethic that promotes prudence and longevity exists. The author begins by outlining the global warming process and its anticipated consequences. To provide the international context of global warming, the author explains how developed countries have used, and continue to use, the international commons. The author also identifies a well-developed first-come-first-served method of resource allocation, prior appropriation. An analysis of this current resource allocation reveals that today’s multiple, developing sovereigns further compound the allocation’s practice and ethical problems. In response, the author proposes that a different allocation ethos is needed. The author further recommends two models more in tune with international and natural demands: correlative rights allocation and the notion of accommodation.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.