Margaret McCarthy.png

SDG Alignment

ABOUT MARGARET

Margaret completed a BA (Hons) in Philosophy in 1976 at the University of Melbourne (UoM). For the next 36 years Margaret worked as a software engineer with large US techs such as IBM, Oracle Corporation and AT&T both in Australia and US. She specialised in the development and performance of very large databases and associated data analytics. Margaret can code in several computer languages.

In 2012 Margaret returned to study at UoM and completed a Master’s in Urban Horticulture in 2016. Her masters research addressed physiological and morphological traits of drought tolerant trees with view to use of such trees to cool urban landscapes which are increasingly experiencing sustained periods of heat and drought. Margaret is currently a PhD candidate at UoM where her thesis on climate change justice in everyday life in urban landscapes is supervised across Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Science.

CURRENT PROJECT

Climate change harms and urban governance responsibilities

Philosophical discussion has traditionally addressed catastrophic climate change events such as sea-level rise caused by melting ice-sheets and severe storms. Death, injury and displacement are assumed to be the likely harms and the assumption is that the demographic most exposed to such harm are low socio-economic groups. This view is narrow: it promotes a sense that the climatic events and associated harms are episodic and will not be experienced by everyone. Scientific evidence and modelling demonstrate that events arising from climate change threaten the stability of the planetary systems and the well-being of most living things on the planet everywhere. This includes ecosystems on which humans depend for survival. Densely populated urban landscapes confront unique challenges resulting from climate change induced events like heatwaves, drought and periodic flooding. While the severity of the effects of climate change can vary with urban location, the harms experienced in urban landscapes are not just episodic but have the potential to significantly interfere with everyday life for extended periods.

Widely publicized scientific evidence describing the dangers faced by the entire planet if nothing is done about climate change has sharpened the realization that climate change is a complex phenomenon that is unlike any previous situation humanity has confronted. This complexity challenges traditional theories associated with ethics, morality and justice. Humans need to change the way they live so that they do not interfere with the stability of the earth’s systems and threaten life. Justice needs to be viewed differently. An anthropocentric view of the world is no longer viable. A better world will be one where morality, ethics and justice engage with a world view that looks beyond humans and accounts for the well-being of all living things and the planet itself.
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