In the past, future and even present, there have been many controversial issues on environmental ethics that need to be answered. There are environmental issues affecting our world today such as deforestation and pollution. These problems have even begun to affect us at a global scale and not only have we put ourselves in grave peril but we have also managed to endanger every other species that exist on earth. As noted by Yamamoto (2001), “In Buddhism, human life, and other forms of life are regarded as being of the same matter.
Therefore, since they are always related to living things, Buddhism regards environmental problems as essentially an issue of ethics. ” There are many environmental issues that need to be taken care of as soon as possible. One issue would have to be deforestation. For years we as humans have depended on trees as a resource to our everyday life. We have built homes, paper, and many other products from this precious resource. If the forest provided us with low cost homes and so many good resources, why is it an ethical issue or problem? This is a problem because deforestation destroys not only forests but also reduces the biodiversity, which means a reduction in the amount, as well as variation of, living things which can cause havoc on whole ecosystems. ” “The cutting down of tropical rain forests is particularly detrimental to wildlife and other living things. “ (Yamamoto, 2001) We have been so concern in finding different ways to make our lives easier. Pollution is another issue that is affecting our environment. Pollution is killing off our wild life each and everyday. We as humans must take control of this problem very quickly.
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With so much pollution we are killing plants, animals, polluting our water, and causing the depleting of the Ozone layer. I once had to do a project about the effects of The Morris J. Berman oils spill of the coast of the Escambron beach in the island of Puerto Rico. From the pictures that I saw, I can say that I had never seen a more horrendous sight. This beautiful blue beach whose waters had turned into a murky black and filled with dead fish covered in oil. The damage was vey overwhelming especially. I will never forget the awful pictures of so many animals suffocating with the poisonous oil.
Luckily this problem has been dealt with by the government for many years and they have found many solutions to ensure that these disasters do not repeat themselves. This is a great example of how government involves itself in Environmental Ethics. It was evident to every one the damage and the horror that was inflicted on nature by this human mishap. It is a fact that the government had always prioritized the restoration of the ocean that was damaged by the barge when it crashed and destroyed the homes to a vast number of oceanic wildlife.
Last year the government of Puerto Rico was compensated with $10 million for damages caused by the oil spill almost 14 years ago. These funds will be used to build an artificial coral reef and a shore line nature reserve (Michael Melia, FoxNews. com, 2007). Our rain forests and the tribes that live in there are being affected by this pollution and deforestation also. “The Kayapo are an indigenous group of Indians living in the rainforest of Brazil. The dominant ecosystems are tropical rainforest and grassland in which the Kayapo hunt, fish, and practice Sweden agriculture (slash and burn). (Goodale, 2004) Their way of life is being threatened by pollution, land grabs, and dams.
There are many environmental ethics at stake. The first problem was the pollution from agricultural runoffs from acres of soybean and cattle just outside the boundaries of the Kayapo Indians. The pollution from the headwaters of the Xingu downriver flowed down to the Kayapo Indians, contaminating water supplies and food resources. The second issue was land invasion. “Parts of the east bank of the Middle Xingu called Kapotnhinore are being illegally invaded and sold. This is creating a hostile, dangerous environment and also blocking river travel. (Goodale, 2004)
The last issue not only affects the Kayapo Indian but also affects the rainforest that they live in. According to Goodale (2004), the Brazilian government has revived plans for several hydroelectric dams along the Xingu River. “The proposed project would displace Kayapo from their homes, because a loss of sustenance for those living downstream, disturb fish populations, and damage terrestrial ecosystems” (Goodale, 2004). In a situation like this, there are many views from both sides. Some people believe that this is just wrong to disrupt a tribe’s natural way of life.
If you take the river that they solely depend this will hurt their way of living. Some people think that proposed plan should go forward. Some believe that the dams will regulate the flow of water which will help prevent flooding and dry seasons and that the creation of the hydroelectric dams will create a clean source of electricity for millions. With an ever growing population, it does not make economic sense to have 28. 4 million acres set aside for only 5,000 people. When thinking about environmental ethics, there are many consequences that humans have to take in account. Some are good and some are bad.
Weighing the consequences of the dam project, is it ethically right to proceed with the project? Personally, I do not think it is right. Although the dam can produce electricity for many people, many others are being displaced from their homes without any compensation. I think that there are many other alternatives in creating electricity without displacing the Kayapo Indians. This is not my decision to make. If these issues are not dealt with in time, they could lead to severe consequences such as the extinction of many species of both flora and fauna, and the dilapidated conditions of different habitats.
Many people manage to go carefree through life; unconcerned of the harmful changes that are inflicting upon our environment. It is imperative that we come to the understanding that even if humans are the dominant species on the planet; the earth does not solely belong to us but to other life forms. Even though many of our ethical views on Environmental issues are Anthropocentric as mentioned by Andrew Brennan and Yeuk- Sze Lo (Environmental Ethics, January 3, 2008), we as the primary species have a responsibility not only towards the environment but we also have a moral commitment towards every other species that share our world with us.
We are the only species capable of reasoning and reflection on ethical matters, thus giving all moral debate a definite “human-centeredness. ” Personally I believe that perhaps it is exclusively up to us humans to deal with these issues immediately. The survival of all other species is imperative; especially when the truth is that we are the causes of many of the planet’s damages. Many of the social and ethical obligations we have towards the planet consist primarily of extending our moral standing beyond human centeredness.
Humans must come to terms that we are just a fraction of living beings in this vast world and we must care for our planet and the respect the other living creatures that live on it also. Many people do genuinely feel that it is our moral duty to preserve every aspect of beauty in nature by treating wildlife of all species with a “Big brother complex. ” I also believe that there are many human factors that are helping humans to become more aware of our duties towards helping the environment. We live in a time of great social turmoil and strife between nations.
Many recognize an imminent doom to our species bordering a not so distant future. It is only logical that many humans are trying to get back in touch with nature, as if looking for a sense of innocence that one looses as a child. This is an innocence that was lost when man became careless with its potential to create and better his way of life. This mindset is becoming mixed and intertwined with the current growing consciousness that our world is changing and it might be too late to bring it back to the way it was. It is important that humans begin to take action by engaging ethical protocols that concern our environment.
In my recent research, I have found that the existence of solid Environmental Ethics is vital for a shift in a social mindset towards awareness on the subject uphold. These rules of conduct and the values they signify must be maintained primarily by the people, the government, and the branches of science that study global and geological issues. Professor Alasdair Cochrane of the London School of Economics and Political Science writes, “First of all, environmental ethics needs to be and will be informed by changes in the political efforts to ameliorate environmental problems.
Environmental ethics concerns formulating our moral obligations regarding the environment. While this enterprise can be, and often is, quite abstract, it is also meant to engage with the real world… However, without the participation of so many large polluters, with the agreed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions so small, and with many countries looking like they may well miss their targets, many commentators already regard it as a failure. Ethicists need to respond not just by castigating those they blame for the failure.
Rather they must propose alternative and better means of resolving the problems we face. ” (Alasdair Cochrane, Environmental Ethics, 2007) Society of today has forgotten the importance and seriousness on environmental ethics. The consequences of our actions are affecting our future very rapidly. We humans are so consumed and focused on different ways that will make our lives so simple, that we ignore the fact of taking action in finding other methods in utilizing our resources better. Our children will be the ones affected and so will nature itself.
Animals will be extinct in our children’s time and the world will gradually lose all its natural resources because we never thought to conserve source of electricity for millions. With an ever growing population, it does not make economic sense to have 28. 4 million acres set aside for only 5,000 people. Social involvement is also vital when addressing these environmental issues. It is important that environmental concerns are discussed in educational institutions as with the inclusion of dynamic exercises that can benefit both the student who is learning to tackle ecological concerns and nature itself.
During my elementary school days, my school would organize supervised visits to beaches and other natural locations where we would engage in cleaning and picking up garbage left by campers and beach goers. This was very helpful towards our city. This type of dynamic disciplined helped us in knowing that even if we did not put this garbage there, we definitely have the power to preserve the beauty of this environment. I think that this is a very decent value that should be taught to kids who are currently developing an ability to question why things are as they are.
It will not only teach them to preserve our planet, but it will also help them appreciate how very nourishing this world is to us. This may also help mold them into some very sanitary adults. It is very important that the scientific community should be concerned with environmental issues also. Scientific perspectives can not only help us to understand better what is happening to our environment, but it will also permit us to find better solutions to these problems. Professor Alasdair mentions in his work that, “Environmental ethics will of course be informed by our scientific understanding of the environment.
Whether it is changes in our understanding of how ecosystems work, or changes in the evidence concerning the environmental crisis, it is clear that such change will inform and influence those thinkers writing on our environmental obligations. ” (Alasdair Cochrane, Environmental Ethics, 2007) I honestly believe that we, as humans, are advancing towards a time of global awakening and consciousness. Due to the fact that we think that there is nothing seriously wrong with our environment due to the cruel treatment we have inflicted on it for the past hundred years.
Still, we are not late in focusing on these problems by establishing new lines of thought on our ethical and moral obligation towards the environment. By exploring the options that are needed to prevent future damages to our environment, we will be able to save not only ourselves as a species, but also the many other forms of life that inhabit our fertile earth. It is also very important that we apply ethical and philosophical values to the way we interact with our planet.
This is a requirement that men and women who are willing to become advocates of this cause, by thinking and analyzing what is the problem that if being faced, and what is must we resort to as a solution to that problem. Governments have begun to embrace this and so have many other corporate institutions and social groups. We hold the fate of our future in our hands. So it is up to us humans to choose in which direction to steer our fates and the fates of all living creatures on earth. In conclusion, I do believe that ethics plays a major part in the solving our environmental issues.
When people are contemplating obligations towards the environment and making judgments on policies and procedures, ethics often come into the picture. When members of society are determining responsibility for future generations, morality is often a factor and ethics could be a component of the process. How do we answer the question; “What are the guidelines for farmers that use chemicals to fertilize their fields, when that water may eventually make its way to a water source? ” Ethics are part of answering this question.
Where things have not been solved, more issues are stacking on them day by day. Environmental Ethics is a very important field. It continues to supply humans with valuable information on current environmental issues to which society needs to react swiftly. These reactions will provide critical information to address the issues at hand. Societies need to make good decisions and those decisions will have ethics at their root. Personal thoughts and opinions, and ultimately decisions, will shape the environment for generations to come. We as people can make this world a better place to live.
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