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Animals and climate change

Name: Rachel York-Bridgers and Paul York, University of Toronto (via teleconference)

Title: Animals and climate change

Abstract: This presentation raises the problem of why the 2006 IPCC report on factory farms (CAFOs) is not a high priority for environmentalists and food justice groups and what can be done about it. It delves into some philosophical issues, in terms of how different people see the world differently (i.e. have different worldviews) and how this shapes their ethical perspectives with regard to animals: some see animals as food and others seen them as creatures with basic rights that ought not to be violated. This raises the question of how we might choose to define sustainability and climate justice: as pertaining only to humans, or more inclusively, as pertaining to nonhumans as well.

In this presentation, I explore some of the objections and debates that arise from these questions. I will emphasize the importance of exploring an overarching approach to the question of climate justice: should it be anthropocentric or biocentric, and if the latter can ethical holism and ethical individualism be reconciled? I consider these questions to be not merely philosophical abstractions but to have a bearing on real-world issues, such as how animals are treated, what we eat, and what kinds of campaigns are waged by climate activists.

Animals, food and climate change