Environmental Ethics: From Philosophy to Term Paper
Excerpt from Term Paper :
" (Carson, 2) That the correlation between these collected symptoms and the use of pesticides in our predominantly agricultural towns had yet to be recognized at this point in history is important to consider. Though today it still receives troublingly little acknowledgment, the exponential rise in the consumption of organic produce in recent years is indicative of a graduating cognizance of that which Carson's work brought to the forefront of ecological discourse. Here, she makes apparent the causality of her concern and, thus, illuminates the pattern of environmental abuse which is an immediate ethical trespass and an ultimate threat to man as much as it is to any other species which is targeted by such behavior, either with intent or by collateral happenstance.
Herein, she expounds upon the retribution which man will receive for his impractical coexistence with other species and habitats on earth. In simplified terms, she describes a cycle in which man ultimately poisons himself. Using pesticides to exterminate entire species of insect has had the effect of eliminating certain creatures from an ecological chain, therefore removing an important set of players in the interaction between predators and prey. With the toxification or disappearance of insects in the habitats discussed in Silent Spring, the bird population which relied upon these as a source of food also began to suffer. Given the adaptability of nature, insect populations commonly resurge with new genetic immunities to our pesticides. In the absence of the bird populations once controlling them, these insects are then capable of spreading disease and crop devastation without obstruction from natural ecological balance. And as it is described above and throughout the book, it is clear that these are ecological changes which directly correlate to man and his survival. This is sensible given his singular role in creating environmental blight and ecological imbalance.
Carson's work would also give rise to works of great importance by figures such as Lynn White, whose "The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis" would tighten the correlation between ecological decline and ethical misappropriation of man's self-appointed role as a custodian of the planet. Indeed, White (1974) most aggressively identifies man's moral disposition as a key catalyst for the destruction of the earth, demanding some more practical channeling of the various strands of ethical divergence reflected in our environmental policy. As White would note, "with the population explosion, the carcinoma of planless urbanism, the now geological deposits of sewage and garbage, surely no creature other than man has ever managed to foul its nest in such short order. There are many calls to action, but specific proposals, however worthy as individual items, seem too partial, palliative, negative: ban the bomb, tear down the billboards, give the Hindus contraceptives and tell them to eat their sacred cows. The simplest solution to any suspect change is, of course, to stop it, or better yet, to revert to a romanticized past: make those ugly gasoline stations look like Anne Hathaway's cottage or (in the Far West) like ghost-town saloons." (White, 2)
This point of focus is a useful one for beginning to understand the orientation of such nations as the U.S. toward a global environmental movement. Indeed, for the U.S., ethicality scarcely enters into the discourse. Quite to the contrary, the United States appears to be inexorably and ruthlessly driven by the ambitions of its economy. The desire for massive levels of consumption and the conditioning of a lifestyle of excess have both delivered the U.S. To a place of ecological unsustainability. However, its government and industries have simultaneously proven unresponsive to these conditions. U.S. automakers lag behind those in other nations that have worked out of economic necessity to develop more fuel efficient alternatives to the gas-guzzlers which are so popular in America.
The economic effects of this chosen dependency are based on the danger of relying upon a finite source of fuel. To this point, Whitehall (2008) demonstrates a pattern which denotes the close correlation between an increasing oil scarcity and a set of clear economic challenges. His findings show that over just a period of a year, the cost per barrel rose from just under 60 U.S. Dollars a barrel on the international market to upwards of 140 U.S. Dollars a barrel. The increase is a demonstration of how unreliable oil is not just in terms of its lack of sustainability but in terms of its negative economic implications, which associate it to dangers of economic inflation. (Whitehall, 1) This denotes that the ecological effects
of America's poor orientation toward environmental ethics have clearly identifiable economic consequences as well.
On a global scale, the environmental movement is increasingly becoming less a fringe activist terrain and more a policy area of great importance for the industrialized nations of the world. There is increasingly a consensus on the dangers of global climate change; the threat to our health of pollutants in land, air and water; the implications to food scarcity to hungry populations; and the need to change energy harvesting and consumption habits. Collectively, these environmental concerns are registering with ever-greater prominence in the nations of Western Europe, North America and in economically advanced parts of China. Quite certainly, in all of these contexts, there remain considerable challenges ahead in achieving projected future goals for meeting environmental improvements. However, these challenges pale in comparison to those which lay ahead of the developing nations of the world. Where environmentalism is concerned in particularly, a clear challenge exists to the developing sphere, with many developing nations simultaneously demonstrating the greatest need for extreme environmental reform and yet fully lacking the resources or priority to address pressing environmental concerns.
How it Has Become a Major Issue:
This presents our future outlook with its greatest area of complexity. As nations struggle simply to feed their populations and to address famine, disease and homelessness, environmentalism is a policy focus often perceived as luxury at best and as politically motivated at worst. Also impacted by the patterns of globalization which open the doors of developing nations to the activities of multinational corporations, many developing nations find that their environmental conditions are very much at the mercy of outsiders. As a result, as the debate raging around many developing countries on how to bring global restraint to environmental abuses continues, practices in many of these contexts continue to reflect a severity of neglect for reform. Indeed, all evidence suggests that in spite of the economic arguments against the implementation of environmental restrictions in developing nations, rationality denotes that soon all nations must face these issues. According to our research, "environmentalism, although a good postmodern indicator, is more fundamental than a culture shift because it is based on serious global threats to life on this planet. Ideologies may surge and flow across the face of these realities, but environmental issues cannot be argued or deconstructed away." (Peritore, 30). This is quite a pertinent point to the discussion, lending us the basic understanding that the permeation of environmental ethics into developing nations, though inclined by the processes of globalization, is not simply a vestige of foreign imposition. The establishment of more firm protections for land, air, water and, by extension, food sources, communities and homes, in the developing world is tantamount to the emergence of this sphere form untenable conditions of poverty and filth.
And yet, resistance exists in a variety of forms, even beyond the obviation that nations such as those in Africa, the Middle East or South Asia will frequently lack the stability or resource to maintain or enforce sound environmental policies. This is true for a number of cogent reasons relating to the cost of environmental enforcement and for a number of more conditional reasons relating to the desire of globalizing firms to operate in nations with decidedly lax environmental parameters. This morass of conditions denotes that "while we should not necessarily be sanguine about environmental protection in developing countries, we need not be pessimistic either." (Warshawsky, 114)
This is to say that the international community is increasingly drawing to a consensus on the need to curb behaviors which have are causing trauma to the environment, with the leadership change from Bush to Obama in the United States promising significant new level of improvement in regulatory enforcement. In general, the pattern of the last two decades has moved the developing world toward higher levels of control over corporate polluting in particular, especially with the 1997 inception of the Kyoto Treaty. This set of environmental protocols "commits industrialised nations to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, principally Carbon Dioxide, by around 5.2% below their 1990 levels over the next decade." (BBC News, 1) in many ways, though this should be considered a model for improvement in the industrialized world, it has interceded with the forces of globalization to encourage corporate polluters to find contexts in which those activities will be enabled. Ultimately, the matter of this opportunity for exploitive…
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