Essay on Environmental Ethics

Words: 3430
Pages: 14

Ethics is the study of what is right and wrong in human conduct. Environmental ethics studies the effects of human’s moral relationships on the environment and everything within it. The ethical principles that govern those relations determine human duties, obligations, and responsibilities with regard to the Earth’s natural environment and all of the animals and plants that inhabit it. I will reveal environmental issues that are threatening the existence of life on Earth, and discuss our social obligations to refrain from further damaging our environment, health and life for future generations. There is also a need for appropriate actions and the ethical application in the decision making process on solving environmental concerns.
The environment has been under attack since the dawn of man. Without the environment, man could not exist. Herein lies the dilemma; man takes from the earth what he needs to survive, food, water, shelter, and the very air he breathes. However, the ever-rising population of man demands more of these essentials at a rapid rate, and therefore more is being taken than the earth can replenish. The human populous and concentrations of pesticides in food crops, started to be seen as an environmental crisis in the 1960’s, which acted as the stepping-stone for environmental awareness. In 1967, historian Lynn White published an essay on the historical roots of the environmental crisis. Whites essay created many academic debates over the Judeo-Christian mode of thinking, which encouraged the exploitation of nature for human consumption. The ethical dilemma arises from the concern of whether or not it was morally correct for humans to ravage nature with no regards for the non-human cohabitants. The most regarded book in history, the Bible, reinforces Judeo-Christian thinking in Genesis 1:27-8, for man to subdue the earth and have dominance over everything upon it. These perspectives are anthropocentric or human centered and view all non-human life as less important than humans themselves. Environmental ethics challenges these beliefs by questioning the assumed moral superiority of human beings to members of other species on earth. Preservation of the environment is essential to the preservation of the human race.
Global Warming is the number one concern threatening the very existence of humans and everything within the environment today. The human race is to blame for the destruction of the natural world. The environmental issues that are threatening all human and non-human life, started in the industrial revolution and the discovery of oil. The need to improve the quality of life resulted in the construction of factories to mass produce products for consumers. These factories were powered by fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. The combustion of these fossil fuels emitted great quantities of pollutants that remain in the Earth’s atmosphere to this day and is the number one cause of global warming. However, in ethics we cannot evaluate just one thing. In ethics, as in nature, everything is connected to everything else.
Deforestation for agricultural purposes and the expansion of human habitats is happening around the world. This destruction of forests creates a multitude of problems including the displacement and extinction of wildlife and the depletion of oxygen that every living organism needs to survive. The fumes from logging equipment and every motorized machine in the world contains carbon dioxide, which is toxic to the planet and all of its inhabitants. Forests absorb and store carbon, but deforestation now accounts for about twenty percent of carbon dioxide emissions each year (GlobalWarming-Facts.info, 2008). At over eighty percent, combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas in power plants, automobiles, and industrial facilities is, by far the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions. The overwhelming amount of carbon that the human race produces is only one element in a complex