Summary The Environmental Issue from Hell

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022
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We’re Hot as Hell Is global warming a moral dilemma? Is it the public policy problem from hell? In "The Environmental Issue from Hell," Bill McKibben uses many of such phrases en route to arguing for a new approach to global warming. By discussing hell and morals, the reader’s mind is already equating it with two heavily debated issues. Therefore, we begin to question their existence and how we should deal with the subjects. McKibben wisely chooses these disputes to represent his main concerns: the ways in which consumerism affects the global ecosystem, and the impact of humans on the environment.

McKibben presents a solution on how to handle each of these environmental issues, utilizing both the people and the government. McKibben's point of how consumerism affects the global ecosystem is certainly relatable. With all the new technology forming, global warming has only increased, despite the many efforts to make everything more energy efficient. McKibben points out that, "most of us live lives so divorced from the natural world that we hardly notice the changes anyway. (McKibben 747) Choosing the word divorce (which everyone has heard and in some way or another experienced), and also elaborating about parking garages and air conditioning captivates the reader. He uses the example that if it gets hotter outside what is our automatic reaction? We turn the AC up without contemplation. He explains that these new technologies are not letting us feel the consequences of global warming, causing us to be completely ignorant of it.

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Mckibben feels it is subsequently important to make people realize now because, "By the time the magnitude of the change is truly in our faces, it will be too late to do much about it. "(747). The author recognizes the delay between the actions we take to lower carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the actual results of it lowering. Due to the outcomes, Mckibben expresses, “…we need to be making the switch to solar and wind and hydrogen power right now to prevent disaster decades away. “ (747), summing up his thought that we need to be making the change to more energy efficient and eco-friendly power before it is too late.

Mckibben inaugurates his third paragraph suggesting that we make the environmental issues, “"the great moral crisis of our time, and the equivalent of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. "(747). He uses this analogy to explain that in his opinion, we are strip-mining the present and destroying all of whom come after it. Thus, leading him to discuss exactly how humans’ materialistic ways have impacted the earth. From Bangladesh living three months in thigh high-deep water, to polar bears becoming “20% scrawnier than they were a decade ago” (748).

The environmentalist writer goes on to discuss how to deal with global warming since it is indeed creeping up on us. Mckibben once again articulates his repetitive view that, “it’s a moral question, finally, if you think we owe any debt to the future. ” (748). In many circumstances it is believed that if it had been done to us, we would dislike the generation that did it, just as how we will one day be disliked. The solution given in the essay on how to handle these environmental issues is to start a moral campaign.

In other words, “… turn it into a political issue, just as bus boycotts began to make public the issue of race, forcing the system to respond. “ (748). As a part of the overall populist causing these issues, Mckibben understands that the hardest part about starting this moral campaign is identifying a villain to overcome. Briefly voicing that Carbon dioxide is the main villain, but you can't be mad at it, only the people responsible, which is us. We often become guilty of only looking through our own perspective lenses.

In his eyes, we have fancy technology, unnecessarily big cars, and most importantly ignorance about the environmental world around us. McKibben is asking for us to take a step back and look from someone else’s point of view, which as an author is a brilliant idea. He is asking us as the readers to be open-minded and look through someone else’s eyes with the hope that it will be his. Works Cited Mckibben, Bill. “The Environmental Issue from Hell. ” The Mcgraw-Hill Reader. Ed. Gilbert Muller. 11th ed. Boston: Learning Solutions. 2011. 746-49. Print.

Environmental Issues in Pakistan

What is Environmental Ethics? Environmental ethics is a branch of environmental philosophy that studies the ethical relationship between human beings and environment. It has given a new dimension to the conservation of natural resources. What are major Ethical Environmental Issues? The issues which cause dangers to environment with a moral perspective in them are known as ethical environmental issues. Environment has a direct or indirect effect on the way we live and ethical environmental issues arise when we ignore this fact.

Hence we ought to protect our environment and solve the ethical environmental issues our earth is facing now-a-days. There are many ethical environmental issues some of them are stated below: 1. Green-house Effect. 2. Ozone Depletion. 3. Air Pollution. 4. Acid Rain. 5. Urban Run-off. 6. Land Pollution. 7. Deforestation. 8. Nuclear Development. 1. Greenhouse Effect Any gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiations in the thermal infrared range is called a greenhouse gas.

The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. This process repeats over and over again, trapping the radiations in the atmosphere. This is one of the major causes of global warming. Consequences: Global warming is causing the Earth to lose its snow cover; glaciers are melting, the sea-level is rising, and a lot of arctic floral and faunal species are on the verge of extinction. 2. Ozone Depletion The ozone enveloping around the Earth is depleting in volume consistently since 1980s.

This is largely due to the effect of halocarbon refrigerants (such as CFC, halons, freons, etc. ). Halocarbons (being lighter than other gases in the atmosphere) rise much higher in the atmosphere. They then photodissociate to give atomic halogens. These atoms catalyze the destruction of the ozone gas. Consequences: Depletion of the ozone can practically threaten human life, and life of other animals as well. The ozone layer protects us from UV rays of the sun; without the ozone layer, everyone would be susceptible to a number of skin diseases, including skin cancer. . Air Pollution Air pollution is probably one of the most dangerous effect on the environment since we cannot control the air we breathe. Vehicular traffic, smog created by the smoke emitted by vehicles and factories, volatile organic compounds, present primarily in paints and varnishes and refrigerants, all contribute to air pollution. Consequences: Air pollution affects everything; it affects plants, animals and humans. According to WHO, poor indoor air quality can lead to respiratory infections, coronary diseases, and even lung cancer.

If all this is happening indoors, imagine what is happening outside. 4. Acid Rain Gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide can react with water to produce corresponding acids. When this happens in the atmosphere, we get rain that is of acidic. The gases mentioned above are released into the atmosphere by certain natural processes like lightning, volcanoes, etc. However, the amount of these gases released due to factories, vehicles and different industries surpasses that produced naturally. It goes beyond a level that can be tolerated by nature.

Consequences: Acid rains cause stone, rocks, steel, metal to erode and paint to peel off. This means monuments, statues, bridges, buildings, all are at a risk. It also damages the skin. 5. Urban Run-off Urban run-off refers to the rainwater running off land and into water bodies. This is a natural process. However, with ever-increasing urbanization, this process affects water bodies adversely, because the run-off now carries all sorts of compounds, chemicals and particulate matter. Materials that cannot be gotten rid of are being added to wastewater and, ultimately, to water.

Consequences: Urban run-off causes deposition of oil, gasoline, garbage, heavy metals (nickel, copper, lead, zinc etc. ), fertilizers and pesticides (from gardens and lawns), synthetic organic compounds, etc. ; all of which ultimately enters the food chain and causes number of health complications. It also causes destruction of Marine population. 6. Land pollution Land pollution is where our land may be as far as being contaminated. All of the bad toxic chemicals and waste, that is left or dumped on our land, causes it to become polluted.

It includes trash from homes, commercial establishments, and industrial facilities, food wastes, paper, glass, textiles, and plastic objects. The toxic materials that pollute the soil can get into the human body directly by coming into contact with the skin, being washed into water sources like reservoirs and rivers, eating fruits and vegetables that have been grown in polluted soil, breathing in polluted dust or particles. Consequences: It causes problems in the respiratory system and on the skin. It also leads to birth defects and also causes various kinds of cancers. . Deforestation Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. Wood is a necessity and the humans need to use it. But the improper planning about forestation and new planting of trees, we are facing a severe crisis of the lack of trees. Trees are very important as they make oxygen and serve many other important purposes too. But we may face a serious shortage of trees in the years to come due to the way forests are continued to disappear (at the rate of 14 million hectares per year).

Consequences: Deforestation results in less biodiversity, soil erosion, animals lose their habitat, more Global Warming because there would be less trees to collect carbon dioxide etc. 8. Nuclear Development Nuclear development is, however, beneficial but it has very much harmful aspects as well. The nuclear rods that we use in producing energy are very radioactive. They have a very long decaying period and hence cause threats to our environment. Consequences: It has positive consequences in the form of meeting the energy crises.

On the other hand, the most alarming aspect of nuclear development are the prospective nuclear accidents that can take place. It can cause different types of cancers, many disabilities by birth, problems in the process of photosynthesis etc. Solutions to Major Ethical Environmental Issues The problems that we are facing are very serious and need to be solved at the earliest possible time. Some of the solutions that we can could come up with, keeping in view indigenous resources, behaviour of people, environmental legislation etc.

So here are some of the solutions to the above mentioned problems. 1. Arranging Seminars for Awareness Arranging seminars can be very beneficial for communication with people and educating them about the various ethical environmental issues that we are facing. Such type of seminars should be held in educational institutions and industries to educate students, workers and other people about the graveness of these issues so that they may be understood and solved. 2. Three REs (Reduce, Recycle and Reuse)

We should try to reduce the use of substances like plastic that causes environmental pollution and are recycleable. Consumption of natural resources should be made limited to as less as possible. Reducing deforestation and trying to use the recycled and other materials. 3. Abstaining from Clourofloro carbons A Harmfulness of clourofluoro carbons should be understood by the society as its increasing amount is a threat to ozone layer. People should be educated at lower scale so they may realize the importance of ozone layer.

Chlorofluoro carbons are presents in some kinds of refrigeration processes, solvents, foams, aerosols etc. 4. Reducing Pollution Modernization of our societies has widely increased different types of pollution. With the increasing number of automobiles and industries, pollution has been widely increased. Smoke of automobiles causes air pollution. Wastes of industries are discharged into the rivers polluting the water and the land it passes by. A regular checking should be done on particularly industries to see whether they are safely discharging the wastes or not.

Also, we should use the substances that causes less pollution and discharge our waste substances properly at the proper place. 5. Role of Media In the modern era, media has a very strong role in educating people and moulding their thinking into a specific direction. Highly qualified professionals should use the facility of media to bring awareness to the people about ethical environmental issues through documentaries, talk-shows and other programs. Children can be get attracted through cartoons and other children programs. References ? http://www. tutorvista. om/english/global-warming-causes ? http://socyberty. com/issues/greenhouse-gases-everyonesproblem/ ? http://maria79. tumblr. com/ ? http://www. atsdr. cdc. gov/general/theair. html ? http://www. cheatdiary. com/collegeessay/harmful-effects-of-ozonelayer-depletion/ ? http://www. udel. edu/chem/C465/senior/fall97/acid_rain/senior. html ? http://www. geography. learnontheinternet. co. uk/topics/taiga. html ? http://www. ec. gc. ca/inre-nwri/default. asp? lang=En&n=235D11EB1&offset=12&toc=hide ? http://wiki. answers. com/Q/What_are_the_consequences_of_land_ pollution

Global Environmental Issues and Business Ethics


Global environmental issues are becoming more and more important to various groups of people, and they cannot bypass business professionals. As major corporations are often cited as main culprits of pollution and environmental degradation that in turn causes global warming and ozone depletion and threatens biodiversity, business organisations have begun to address these concerns by showing the world a more responsible attitude. This paper will include background section that will analyze major issues involved in corporate understanding of environmental issues and reaction to them, the analysis section that will analyze the state of the problem to this date, and recommendations for how the issue could have been handled more effectively.


Most business ethics theorists believe that “has moral duties that extend well beyond serving the interests of its owners or stockholders, and that these duties consist of more than simply obeying the law” (Wikipedia, 2006). This analysis occurs within the framework of the stakeholder concept, or the notion that a company has multiple stakeholders interested that it has to benefit in its activities. This contrasts with the shareholder concept, or the understanding that a business has to favor its shareholders, maximising profits. Modern environmental issues often demand that organisations forfeit a share of their profits to take measures that will prevent ozone depletion and global warming.

Thus, a company that would undertake a logging project in the Amazon basin will be compelled by ethics consideration to take precautions to preserve biodiversity in the area. This also demonstrates the increasing importance of considering environmental issues in the epoch of globalization when multinational companies begin to exert impact on many parts of the environment in different areas of the globe.

Environmental issues are often debated within the framework of corporate social responsibility. Supporters of this idea argue that corporations can often choose to waste limited natural resources or degrade the environment through their actions if they are left to operate without control. Therefore, society has to put pressure on corporations to behave responsibly toward the environment.


There are at least two ways in which companies can engage in the solution of environmental problems – through conservation projects (such as energy conservation, installation of filters to prevent pollution) and through correacting damage that has already been done to the environment.

The latter can be illustrated by the Capital River Relief Project of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers sponsored by Koch Industries. Although most of the funding for the project came from the business organisation, it also received “and participation from Congress, local government leaders, reality-TV celebrities, local athletes, conservation groups and hundreds of volunteers” (Press release from: Koch Industries, 2004). In this case, the business entity acts as a member of the community, interested in the preservation of the natural habitat around. It is possible that the company is not the main culprit for pollution that is caused by a variety of reasons, but as a responsible community member, it utilizes its resources to make the environment cleaner and safer. It is also true that the company will receive positive publicity in reward for these actions and an improvement in corporate image that can later drive sales up.

In this respect, one can speak of positive externalities of business activities, “benefits to third parties of business activities” (Biz/Ed, 2006). This type of externalities benefits the community in such a way that corporations willingly undertake actions that help communities live in a better environment. However, consumers are not merely a group of observers passively watching corporations undertake actions on their behalf. They can actively shape organisational policies through ethical decision-making. Today, research reveals that “marketing managers have become ethically more sensitive, and they are largely convinced that customers and the public expect them to act in a morally acceptable way” (Srnka, 2004). This idea is aligned with general marketing theory that stipulates that all relations should be built on trust, and the exchanges in business can only occur where the two parties agree about their ethical frameworks. Consumers today have an increasing role in promoting environmentally friendly behavior by favoring companies that engage in environmentally unfriendly policies. Actions similar to the notorious Nestle boycott targeting the producer of baby foods for alleged non-compliance with the World Health Organisation’s code of marketing can be transplanted to boycott companies that negatively impact the environment.

In this respect, it becomes vital that consumers receive adequate information concerning the amount of environmental harm done by the company, its environmental policies, and future strategies to reduce negative environmental impact of its activities. While some researchers express dissatisfaction about the level of environmental reporting done by companies, other studies prove that business organisations “go to considerable efforts, entailing not inconsiderable costs, to supply information” (Stray, Ballantine 2000, p.170). At the same time, middle management seems to be involved in such reporting more often than senior management (46% versus 28%) (Stray, Ballantine 2000, p.169). This seems to suggest that environmental reporting is not considered to warrant the attention of the senior management and is thus relegated to the sidelines of the corporate business. The issue of environmental reporting is closely linked to the general challenge of increasing transparency of business operations, affecting both financial statements and disclosure of environmental policies.

Another issue with reporting is the discrepancy that often exists between the glamorous picture of the company’s environmental and social responsibility and the actual state of affairs. Thus, researchers who compared Coca Cola’s environmental report with the true state of affairs discovered that “Coca-Cola has been accused of dehydrating local communities in its pursuit of water resources to feed its own plants, drying up farmers wells and destroying local agriculture” (Eldis, 2006). There has been a call therefore for integrated reporting that will reveal the financial situation of the organisation in addition to its environmental activities and impact on sustainable development of the regions of the world it affects through its actions.

Multinationals in particular have responsibility to develop policies that will not prove detrimental to developed nations where they operate. These issues surfaced predominantly in the 1990s as global extension of corporate activities became the norm (Ethics Resource Center, n.d.). Despite the obvious ‘greeening’ of corporations in the face of globalization, their financial power is still often used for “draining sovereignty away from the Third World countries, and depleting their resources” (Clapp, 2005, p. 23).  To control this process, the shift is now seen from implementation of voluntary environmental policies such as corporate codes and ISO14000 to multilateral environmental governance mechanisms including the UN’s Global Compact and the OECD’s guidelines for multinational enterprises (Clapp, 2005, p. 24).


Coping with the challenge of increasing environmental consciousness of organisations is not easy, given the pressure on corporate management to demonstrate continuous rise in profits, where environmental spending is often considered a drain. Therefore, corporations should be left on their own to decide on the degree of environmental reporting they are willing to do or spending they want to allocate to environmental issues. The government should play a more active role in encouraging positive externalities of corporate activities and suppressing negative ones. The control of the actions of MNEs should evolve in the form of international cooperation between different countries of the world.

In addition, consumer groups and advocacy groups can also play an important role in alerting the corporate executives to the need to cater to the interests of multiple stakeholders. Making decisions on the basis of environmental responsibility demonstrated by companies, consumers can help executives make more responsible decisions.

Within corporations, the implementation of environmentally responsible policies and specific codes governing employees’ activities and decision-making can help improve both corporate image and environmental policies. The focus on the long-term value delivered to shareholders should become the norm of corporate activities. In this respect, pursuit of environmentally friendly policies should become the norm.


Environmental issues like ozone depletion, global warming, and loss of biodiversity have come to dominate social thinking. Slowly but gradually, these issues begin to enter the minds of corporate executives, primarily through shift to the stakeholder concept of business ethics and growing interest in corporate social responsibility. Organisations have become more open to the public through introducing social and environmental reporting and demonstrate greater willingness to contribute to the community through conservation and other environmental projects. Greater involvement in such activities can help corporations become more active members of the community, benefiting many stakeholders and in the long run delivering value to shareholders though improving corporate image. Strengthening reporting norms, shifting it to higher layers within the organisation, and implementation of governmental regulation encouraging positive externalities of corporate activities can become a vital way toward protection of the environment.


Biz/Ed. (2006). Business Ethics, Moral and Environmental Issues. Retrieved May 7, 2006, from

Press release from: Koch Industries. (2004, April 28). CSR Wire. Retrieved May 7, 2006, from

Eldis. (2006, April 27). One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues. Retrieved May 7, 2006, from

Ethics Resource Center. (n.d.). Business Ethics Timeline. Retrieved May 7, 2006, from

Srnka, K.J. (2004). Culture's Role in Marketers' Ethical Decision Making: An Integrated Theoretical Framework. Academy of Marketing Science Review 1. Retrieved May 7, 2006, from

Stray, S., & Ballantine, J. (2000). A Sectoral Comparison of Corporate Environmental Reporting and Disclosure. Eco-Management and Auditing 7, 165-177.

Wikipedia. (2006). Business Ethics. Retrieved May 7, 2006, from


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