Essay on Environmental Ethics

Submitted By mbrown49
Words: 1221
Pages: 5

Environmental Ethics
Environmental protection is an issue that has become of the utmost importance. Few will deny the fact that our natural resources are depleting as a result of human consumption and it is evident that steps need to be taken to better preserve the environment. However, there is much debate over who exactly is responsible for implementing this change. Many believe that the wealthy, developed nations such as the United States should incur the brunt of this duty. After all, these nations consume the most natural resources while simultaneously polluting the environment. However, the solution to this problem will not come from government regulations. Change needs to start with the individual. If every person can gain a better understanding of the value of nature, humans can begin a process of self-realization that can ultimately lead to improved preservation of the environment. Environmental ethics is a purely human concern that is of equal relevance to each individual regardless of socio-economic background. As humans, we must change the way we perceive our natural surroundings. We have long regarded the environment for its utility instead of for its intrinsic value. Nature is far more than a mere resource destined for human consumption. We must stop valuing nature for its nourishment and understand that the environment “exists independently of any considerations of usefulness” (Tongeren, 118). Ultimately, the environment has worth far beyond what it is worth to us (Hill, 214). Nature does not exist for our sole benefit. In the absence of humanity, plants and animals continue to serve a purpose in their respective ecosystems. The reality is that nature has as much a claim to the earth as humans do. The intrinsic value of nature implies the existence of certain rights. As Tongeren explains, these rights are original and were not granted by humanity. As such, the rights of the environment are fully independent of humanity. In understanding these rights, humans have an obligation to respect nature (Tongeren, 120). This obligation “subjects our use of nature to our inter-human duty of solidarity or justice” (Tongeren, 119). By establishing this respect, humans will gain a better understanding of nature as whole. Understanding and respecting nature must be the very foundation of any environmental protection efforts. In learning to respect and cherish nature we will realize that our environment has it limits. The natural resources that we depend on are not inexhaustible causing humanity to be limited by the measures of nature. If nature is something that we truly cherish, we will be forced to alter our own way of life in order to protect the environment. The stark reality is that the world around us will not adapt to our limitless wants. Instead, each individual human must learn to control his or her desires in order to preserve the environment. By forcing us to develop our own measures of control, the limits of nature serve as a “guideline for optimal human self-realization” (Tongeren, 120) While understanding the intrinsic value of nature is a step in the right direction, it means nothing if we do not learn how to live virtuously within the environment. There must be a process of self-realization in which the individual human accepts his or her role as a part of nature. As humans we are part of a global ecosystem. We share many of the same “needs, limits, and liabilities as plants and animals” (Hill, 222). Just as we are affected by nature, our actions impact the world in ways that most people do not fully understand. The current trend of mass over-consumption is unhealthy for the earth as a whole and it must be stopped. By accepting our role as part of nature we develop the attitude that we are part of something much larger than our own agendas. The time has come where we must check our egos at the door and end our pursuit of dominance over nature. Human abuse of the