About this topic
Summary Climate change threatens to create serious risks, ranging from economic risks to increased risk of death and disease to the complete annihilation of small island states. The field of climate ethics (also known as "climate justice") includes questions about how global society should respond to the creation of such risks and who, exactly, should take responsibility for which parts of that response. Major issues include: How aggressively should society reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? How should the burden of achieving those reductions be distributed across and within nations? What role should adaptation play in responding to climate change? Should high emitters pay damages to affected parties? What responsibilities, if any, does climate change impose on individuals? Because climate change is unfolding on a global scale over long periods of time, and because it involves complex issues of politics, science, economics, and technology, answering these questions requires drawing on moral and political philosophy, philosophy of science and epistemology, philosophy of economics, and philosophy of technology, along with a range of other disciplines.
Key works The seminal review of climate ethics is still Gardiner 2004. For collections of key papers on various aspects of climate ethics, see Gardiner et al 2010, which compiles important papers from the first two decades of the field; Arnold 2011, which includes new papers on important issues in climate ethics; and Shue 2014, which collects major papers from one of the most important voices in climate ethics. Important monographs in climate ethics include Gardiner 2011, in which Gardiner delves more deeply into the structure of the moral problems raised by climate change; Broome 2012 and Moellendorf 2014, in which Broome and Moellendorf articulate their respective answers to key questions in climate ethics; and Vanderheiden 2008, in which Vanderheiden addresses issues of climate justice from the perspective of political theory. On the question of individual responsibility for climate change, see Sinnott-Armstrong 2005 (reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010); Hiller 2011, a reply to Sinnott-Armstrong; and for a different approach, Jamieson 2007 (also reprinted in Gardiner et al 2010).
Introductions Chapter 2 of Singer 2002 includes a highly accessible introduction to some key moral issues raised by climate change, suitable for beginning undergraduates. More advanced undergraduates might start with Hayward 2012. Graduate students and professionals looking for a concise survey of climate ethics should consider  Moellendorf 2015. Those looking for more detail, including relevant scientific and economic background, will find it in Gardiner 2004Broome 2012 provides an accessible book-length overview many key issues in climate ethics, along with a primer on climate science and climate economics. For an overview of the literature on climate change and individual responsibilities, see Fragnière 2016.
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  1. Self Deception and Happiness.Talya D. Osseily - manuscript
    The argument in this essay will be divided into two parts: utilitarian and virtue ethics, where each party will agree or disagree with the idea that self-deception leads to happiness, taking climate change and meat production as examples to support their claims.
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  2. A Companion to Rationality.David Robert - manuscript
    This book is divided into 2 sections. In Section 1 (How to think rationally), I address how to acquire rational belief attitudes and, on that basis, I consider the question whether one ought to be skeptical of climate change. In Section 2 (How to act rationally), I address how to make rational choices and, on that basis, I consider the questions whether one is rationally required to do what one can to support life-extension medical research and, more broadly, whether one (...)
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  3. Precautionary Paralysis.J. E. H. Simon - manuscript
    A brief examination of the self-negating quality of the precautionary principle within the context of environmental ethics, and its consequent failure, as an ethical guide, to justify large-scale regulation of atmospheric cabon dioxide emissions.
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  4. Is Geoengineering the ‘Lesser Evil’?Stephen Gardiner - manuscript
    Environmental Research Web, April 18, 2007.
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  5. People’s Conceptions and Valuations of Nature in the Context of Climate Change.Gisle Andersen, Kjersti Fløttum, Guillaume Carbou & Anje M. Gjesdal - forthcoming - Environmental Values.
    This paper investigates how people conceive and evaluate nature through language, in a climate change context. With material consisting of 1,200 answers to open-ended questions in nationally representative surveys in Norway, we explore what semantic roles and values the respondents attribute to nature as well as to how they interact with the public debate about climate change. We observe that different conceptions and valuations of nature are tied to different perspectives on the climate change issue: some address the responsibilities of (...)
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  6. Max Power: Identifying Minimum Capability Thresholds and Maximum Ceilings for Just Energy Transitions.Patrik Baard & Anders Melin - forthcoming - Science and Engineering Ethics.
    In this paper, we apply the capability approach—with the addition of capability ceilings—to energy justice. We argue that, to ensure energy justice, energy policies and scenarios should consider enabling not only minimal capability thresholds but also maximum capability ceilings. It is permissible, perhaps even morally required, to limit the capabilities of those above the threshold if it is necessary for enabling those below the threshold to reach the level required by justice. We make a distinction between tragic and non-tragic conflicts (...)
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  7. The Ecology of Fear and Climate Change: A Pragmatist Point of View.Jerome Ballet, Damien Bazin & Emmanuel Petit - forthcoming - Environmental Values.
    The ecology of fear has become a common rhetoric in efforts to support climate mitigation. The thesis of the collapse is an extreme version, asserting the inevitable collapse of the world. Fear, then, becomes the ultimate emotion for spurring action. In this article, drawing on the work of the pragmatist John Dewey, we show that fear is an ambiguous emotion. Dewey stressed the quality of an emotion. Following his reasoning, this article draws a distinction between intense and moderate fear. Intense (...)
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  8. The Relationship Between International Political Community and Civil Society Concerning Environment Protection and the Struggle Against Climate Change.Valeria Barbi & Marco Borraccetti - forthcoming - Governare la Paura. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
    The paper’s aim is to retrace the history of climate change through its definition and the process of negotiation aroused from the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). After a brief description of this institution, the basic principles beneath the whole system of environment protection and the struggle against climate change will be presented. The intention is to demonstrate how, despite the undeniable advancements of the latest decades, the international legislative framework, even supported by the (...)
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  9. Industrial-Strength Denial: Eight Stories of Corporations Defending the Indefensible, From the Slave Trade to Climate Change.Giorgio Baruchello - forthcoming - The European Legacy:1-4.
    Fifty years ago, the U.S. ethicist Philip Paul Hallie set himself the task of investigating in fine detail “the self-deception and often the hypocrisy that seek to hide harm-doing under justificati...
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  10. Beyond the Ramsey Model for Climate Change Assessments.S. Baum - forthcoming - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.
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  11. On Individual and Shared Obligations: In Defense of the Activist’s Perspective.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - In Mark Budolfson, Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Philosophy and Climate Change. Oxford University Press.
    We naturally attribute obligations to groups, and take such obligations to have consequences for the obligations of group members. The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change provides an urgent case. It seems that we, together, have an obligation to prevent climate catastrophe, and that we, as individuals, have an obligation to contribute. However, understood strictly, attributions of obligations to groups might seem illegitimate. On the one hand, the groups in question—the people alive today, say—are rarely fully-fledged moral agents, making it (...)
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  12. Land as a Global Commons?Megan Blomfield - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
    Land is becoming increasingly scarce relative to the demands of the global economy; a problem significantly exacerbated by climate change. In response, some have suggested that land should be conceptualised as a global commons. This framing might seem like an appealing way to promote sustainable and equitable land use. However, it is a poor fit for the worldʼs land because global commons are generally understood as resources located beyond state borders. I argue that land can be seen to fit the (...)
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  13. Expropriation of the Expropriators.Jacob Blumenfeld - forthcoming - Philosophy and Social Criticism:1-17.
    The ‘expropriation of the expropriators’ is a delicious turn of phrase, one that Marx even compares to Hegel’s infamous ‘negation of the negation’. But what does it mean, and is it still relevant today? Before I analyse the content of Marx’s expression, I briefly consider contemporary legal understandings of expropriation, as well as some examples of it. In the remainder of the essay, I spell out different kinds of expropriation in Marx and focus on an ambiguity at the core of (...)
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  14. Global Warming, Hybrid Technology, and Carbon Emissions.Ian P. Bork, Jonathan Garfinkel & Bruce Lusignan - forthcoming - Ethics.
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  15. Geoengineering and Climate Change.W. C. G. Burns & J. Blackstock (eds.) - forthcoming - Cambridge University Press.
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  16. Global justice, natural resources, and climate change.Larry Alan Busk - forthcoming - Contemporary Political Theory:1-4.
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  17. 'Distributive Justice and Climate Change'.Simon Caney - forthcoming - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press.
    This paper discusses two distinct questions of distributive justice raised by climate change. Stated very roughly, one question concerns how much protection is owed to the potential victims of climate change (the Just Target Question), and the second concerns how the burdens (and benefits) involved in preventing dangerous climate change should be distributed (the Just Burden Question). In Section II, I focus on the first of these questions, the Just Target Question. The rest of the paper examines the second question, (...)
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  18. The Role of Philosophers in Climate Change.Eugene Chislenko - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-19.
    Some conceptions of the role of philosophers in climate change focus mainly on theoretical progress in philosophy, or on philosophers as individual citizens. Against these views, I defend a Skill View: philosophers should use our characteristic skills as philosophers to combat climate change by integrating it into our teaching, research, service, and community engagement. A focus on theoretical progress, citizenship, expertise, virtue, ability, social role, or power, rather than on skill, can allow for some of these contributions. But the Skill (...)
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  19. Beyond Ideal Theory: Foundations for a Critical Rawlsian Theory of Climate Justice.Paul Clements & Paul Formosa - forthcoming - New Political Science:1-20.
    Rawls’s contractualist approach to justice is well known for its adoption of ideal theory. This approach starts by setting out the political goal or ideal and leaves it to non-ideal or partial compliance theory to map out how to get there. However, Rawls’s use of ideal theory has been criticized by Sen from the right and by Mouffe from the left. We critically address these concerns in the context of developing a Rawlsian approach to climate justice. While the importance of (...)
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  20. The AI gambit: leveraging artificial intelligence to combat climate change—opportunities, challenges, and recommendations.Josh Cowls, Andreas Tsamados, Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi - forthcoming - AI and Society:1-25.
    In this article, we analyse the role that artificial intelligence could play, and is playing, to combat global climate change. We identify two crucial opportunities that AI offers in this domain: it can help improve and expand current understanding of climate change, and it can contribute to combatting the climate crisis effectively. However, the development of AI also raises two sets of problems when considering climate change: the possible exacerbation of social and ethical challenges already associated with AI, and the (...)
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  21. Joseph Heath, Philosophical Foundations of Climate Change Policy (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2021), Pp. 339.Marc D. Davidson - forthcoming - Utilitas:1-4.
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  22. Thinking About Climate Change: Look Up and Look Around!Colin J. Davis & Stephan Lewandowsky - forthcoming - Thinking and Reasoning:1-6.
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  23. Reflexive Law and Climate Change: The EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan.Boudewijn de Bruin - forthcoming - In Joakim Sandberg & Lisa Warenski (eds.), The Philosophy of Money and Finance. Oxford:
    This Chapter studies legislative initiatives around sustainable finance deriving from the Action Plan: Financing Sustainable Growth (also called ‘Sustainable Finance Action Plan’, ‘Action Plan’ henceforth), published by the European Commission (‘Commission’) in 2018 (Communication 2018/97). I evaluate various instruments proposed in the Action Plan, using a reflexive law approach coupled with insights from business ethics and epistemology (De Bruin, 2013, 2015). I point to the challenges such an approach encounters, and offer suggestions how to address them. Reflexive law approaches to (...)
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  24. Against Nationalism: Climate Change, Human Rights, and International Law.Boudewijn de Bruin - forthcoming - Danish Yearbook of Philosophy:1-26.
    Climate change threatens humanity more than anything else. If we talk of nationalism, we ought therefore consider its pros and cons in light of the climate emergency. Anatol Lieven believes that civic nationalism along the lines of Chaim Gans, David Miller, and Yuli Tamir helps combat global warming. He thinks that when nationalists recognize that climate change is just as threatening to the survival of their nation-state as wars, they will make the sacrifices necessary to avert the threat. In this (...)
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  25. Climate Change and Business Ethics.Boudewijn de Bruin - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics.
    This article sketches ways in which business ethics should contribute to addressing the climate emergency. I consider some ways in which normative contributions to the debate on climate change and global warming have been defended, and how international thinking about environmental issues has moved from consequentialist to justice- and rights-based thinking. A recent case that came before the Hague District Court between a Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, Milieudefensie, and Royal Dutch Shell (Milieudefensie v. Royal Dutch Shell), serves (...)
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  26. Offsetting Harm.Michael Deigan - forthcoming - In Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 12.
    It is typically wrong to act in a way that foreseeably makes some impending harm worse. Sometimes it is permissible to do so, however, if one also offsets the harm increasing action by doing something that decreases the badness of the same harm by at least as much. This chapter argues that the standard deontological constraint against doing harm is not compatible with the permissibility of harm increases that have been offset. Offsetting neither prevents one's other actions from doing harm (...)
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  27. Let's Talk About the Weather: Decentering Democratic Debate About Climate Change.Tom D. Dillehay - forthcoming - Hypatia.
  28. Climate Change and Displacement: Towards a Pluralist Approach.Jamie Draper - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512210934.
    This paper sets out a research agenda for a political theory of climate displacement, by critically examining one prominent proposal—the idea of a normative status for ‘climate refugees’—and by proposing an alternative. Drawing on empirical work on climate displacement, I show that the concept of the climate refugee obscures the complexity and heterogeneity of climate displacement. I argue that, because of this complexity and heterogeneity, approaches to climate displacement that put the concept of the climate refugee at their centre will (...)
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  29. Labor Migration and Climate Change Adaptation.Jamie Draper - forthcoming - American Political Science Review.
    Social scientific evidence suggests that labor migration can increase resilience to climate change. For that reason, some have recently advocated using labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation. This paper engages with the normative question of whether, and under what conditions, states may permissibly use labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation. I argue that states may use labor migration policy as a tool for climate adaptation and may even have a duty to do so, subject (...)
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  30. The Fifth Planet.Loren Eiseley - forthcoming - Techne.
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  31. 21st Century Climate Change in the Middle East.Jason P. Evans - forthcoming - Climatic Change.
    This study examined the performance and future predictions for the Middle East produced by 18 global climate models participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. Under the Special Report on Emission Scenarios A2 emissions scenario the models predict an overall temperature increase of ~1.4 K by mid-century, increasing to almost 4 K by late-century for the Middle East. In terms of precipitation the southernmost portion of the domain experiences a small increase in precipitation due to the (...)
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  32. Environmental Pragmatism [Preprint].Steven Fesmire - forthcoming - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Environmental pragmatists argue that it is defeatist to declare in advance that the only effective way to deal with environmental problems is to usher in a complete cultural paradigm shift that radically transforms human value systems. Hence, they do not place a high priority on revolutionary attempts to convince doubters that natural systems, living beings, or sentient beings have intrinsic value. Instead, they prioritize creating a democratic context for adaptive decision processes, which of course includes the evaluation of vying principles. (...)
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  33. Anticipatory Moral Failure: The Case of Climate Change‐Driven Displacement.Kyle Fruh - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  34. Anticipatory Moral Failure: The Case of Climate Change‐Driven Displacement.Kyle Fruh - forthcoming - Wiley: Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  35. Airborne Transport of Aerosols Into the South Atlantic Ocean: Assessment of Sources, Horizontal Fluxes, Iron Fertilizing Potential and Impact on Climate.Diego Gaiero - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  36. Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption.Stephen M. Gardiner - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics.
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  37. The Meaning of Climate Change: An Interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty.Travis Holloway & Dipesh Chakrabarty - forthcoming - Philosophy Today.
    A wide-ranging interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Chicago and author of The Climate of History in a Planetary Age and Provincializing Europe. Dipesh Chakrabarty is one of the leading thinkers on climate change in the humanities. He is responsible for introducing concepts like the "Anthropocene," "geological force," and "species history" into history, philosophy, and literary theory.
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  38. Climate Change, Uncertainty and Policy.Jeroen Hopster - forthcoming - Springer.
    While the foundations of climate science and ethics are well established, fine-grained climate predictions, as well as policy-decisions, are beset with uncertainties. This chapter maps climate uncertainties and classifies them as to their ground, extent and location. A typology of uncertainty is presented, centered along the axes of scientific and moral uncertainty. This typology is illustrated with paradigmatic examples of uncertainty in climate science, climate ethics and climate economics. Subsequently, the chapter discusses the IPCC’s preferred way of representing uncertainties and (...)
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  39. Why It is so Hard to Teach People They Can Make a Difference: Climate Change Efficacy as a Non-Analytic Form of Reasoning.Matthew J. Hornsey, Cassandra M. Chapman & Dexter M. Oelrichs - forthcoming - Thinking and Reasoning:1-19.
    People who believe they have greater efficacy to address climate change are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviour. To confront the climate crisis, it will therefore be essential to u...
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  40. Lake Level Responses to Semi-Arid Climate and Their Social Impacts in Turkey.Nizamettin Kazancı - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  41. The Social Cost of Carbon From Theory to Trump.J. Paul Kelleher - forthcoming - In Ravi Kanbur & Henry Shue (eds.), Climate Justice: Integrating Economics and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a central concept in climate change economics. This chapter explains the SCC and investigates it philosophically. As is widely acknowledged, any SCC calculation requires the analyst to make choices about the infamous topic of discount rates. But to understand the nature and role of discounting, one must understand how that concept—and indeed the SCC concept itself—is yoked to the concept of a value function, whose job is to take ways the world could be (...)
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  42. Environment, Ethics and Public Health: The Climate Change Dilemma.A. Kessel, C. Stephens & A. Dawson - forthcoming - Public Health Ethics: Key Concepts and Issues in Policy and Practice:154--173.
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  43. Klimaaktivismus als ziviler Ungehorsam.Benjamin Kiesewetter - forthcoming - Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie.
    Political actions by Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion, and other climate activists often involve violations of legal regulations – such as compulsory education requirements or traffic laws – and have been criticized for this in the public sphere. In this essay, I defend the view that these violations of the law constitute a form of morally justified civil disobedience against climate policies. I first show that these actions satisfy the criteria of civil disobedience even on relatively strict conceptions of civil (...)
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  44. Ethics of Climate Change Essay Contest.P. Kuhn - forthcoming - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.
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  45. Climate Ethics for Climate Action.Andrew Light - forthcoming - Environmental Ethics: What Really Matters.
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  46. New Solar System Force, Decay of Gravity, and Expansion of the Solar System.Charles William Bill Lucas Jr & Joseph J. Smulsky - forthcoming - Foundations of Science.
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  47. Climate–Fire–Vegetation Interactions During the Late Holocene in Las Yungas Upper Montane Forest, Lagunas de Yala. Northwestern Argentina.Liliana Concepción Lupo - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  48. Climate Change and Health: Bioethical Insights Into Values and Policy.Cheryl Macpherson (ed.) - forthcoming - Springer.
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  49. Holocene Climate Change and Human Settlement on the Semiarid Coast of Chile (32ºS).Antonio Maldonado - forthcoming - Laguna.
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  50. Argumenty a klimatické zmeny (Arguments and Climate Changes).Vladimir Marko - forthcoming - Bratislava: Univerzita Komenského.
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