One of my favorite books is The Cat in the Hat. I love how the Cat in the pursuit of “lots of good fun that is funny” releases Things 1 and 2 in the unnamed narrator’s house to wreak havoc. Meanwhile, the superego pet fish repeatedly urges the narrator and his sister Sally to toss the Cat out before their mother gets home.

It is the ending I like best. When things are at their worst – the house is trashed, and mother is outside – the Cat returns with a cleaner up machine and restores order. The message is clear – if you make a mess you clean it up.

The Cat in the Hat always cleans up.

Next week I will be participating in a special intensive seminar, Rethinking Climate Risk, sponsored by the Arqus European University Alliance. Arqus brings together students and faculty from the Universities of  Bergen, Granada, Graz, Leipzig, Lyon, Padova and Vilnius, to promote active global citizenship and develop cross-border responses to the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.

While in such seminars the texts are generally more academic than Theodor Geisel, I believe that in any course where privileged Europeans (or citizens of other industrialized nations) are discussing what can and should be done to address climate change The Cat in the Hat should be required reading.

Cat thinking allows us to cut a long argument short: Currently living people in industrialized nations are primarily responsible for climate change and have a collective responsibility to take immediate and significant action for correcting and mitigating the negative effects of global warming. If you make a mess you clean it up.

Industrialized nations bear responsibility for correcting climate change.

The long argument:

  • Present generations have a non-reciprocal moral duty not to harm future people.
  • Current greenhouse gas emission levels and subsequent global warming pose significant harms to current generations and even greater harms to future people.
  • The window of opportunity is rapidly shrinking. Significant action must be taken now to a achieve a target of staying “well below” a 2°C temperature increase.
  • Industrialized nations bear a greater responsibility in taking corrective action.
    • they have emitted more greenhouse gasses in the past.
    • they continue to be the largest emitters.
    • they can best provide technology to transition out of fossil fuels and/or bind existing carbon.
    • they have the greatest financial resources to devote towards solving the problem.

What do you think of Cat in the Hat simplicity? Leave a comment.

One thought on “The Cat and climate change

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