Last year I flew to two bioethics conferences, one in Europe and one in North America. I also flew to Taiwan to teach abroad for a year. These were good things to do, or so I thought. I contributed to educational events, learned more about bioethics, and visited with friends and colleagues. But I worry that flying and other activities in my life are contributing to climate changes that will affect the health of vulnerable people, the life prospects of future (...) generations, and the balance of the natural world.I sometimes imagine a dialogue with a young person, twenty years from now, when the climate crisis is much worse.What were you people in bioethics thinking? You flew to conferences all over the world, emitting .. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore one way to bring bioethics and environmental ethics closer together. I focus on a question at the interface of health, sustainability, and justice: How well does a society promote health with the use of no more than a just share of environmental capacity? To address this question, I propose and discuss a mode of assessment that combines a measurement of population health, an estimate of environmental sustainability, and an assumption about what constitutes a fair or (...) just share. This mode of assessment provides an estimate of the just and sustainable life expectancy of a population. It could be used to monitor how well a particular society promotes health within just environmental limits. It could also serve as a source of information that stakeholders use when they deliberate about programs, policies, and technologies. The purpose of this work is to focus attention on an ethical task: the need to fashion institutions and forms of life that promote health in ways that recognize the claims of sustainability and justice. (shrink)
: When health care workers migrate from poor countries to rich countries, they are exercising an important human right and helping rich countries fulfill obligations of social justice. They are also, however, creating problems of social justice in the countries they leave. Solving these problems requires balancing social needs against individual rights and studying the relationship of social justice to international justice.