Case Study: Sustainable Design, Natural Capitalism, and the 2nd Industrial Revolution

When looking back upon earth’s long history, it is difficult to think of how it was able to adapt to the vast of amount of changes it has undergone and its resilience to overcome these changes. The earth has experienced meteorites and ice ages and yet has still evolved successfully from such catastrophic events. Humans have only been around on this planet for a blink of earth’s existence and yet we have managed to vastly degrade it more than any other time in its lifetime. We believe we are the smartest species but we have still managed to create irreversible damage more than other species. Humans are extremely intelligent and are capable of creating some of the greatest technology and perhaps that it is why is so perplexing to think why we cannot thrive while Imagesimultaneously live in harmony with earth’s natural processes. In chapter one, Environmental Problems, Their Causes, and Sustainability, we learn three ways of how to live more sustainably. The first is through solar energy. The sun provides the most amount of natural energy for earth’s systems yet we have not fully adopted it as a method of energy for our own technology. Solar energy should be used for electricity for we know it is a constant source that creates zero emissions. Along with using solar energy, we should study earth’s biodiversity and utilize these techniques. Biodiversity will also provide us with ways to adapt to earth’s ever changing conditions. The third way to adapt sustainability is through chemical cycling. The circulation of chemicals to keep natural processes occurring is necessary for life on earth. Sustainability of natural resources must be recognized as a necessity for life on earth to continue. “Our lives and economies depend on energy from the sun, and on natural resources and natural services (natural capital) provided by the earth” (10). Degrading natural capital faster than we can replenish it will surely lead to our downfall. The only solution to ensuring sustainability is for our governments to enforce laws and regulations. Some companies have brought it upon themselves to act sustainably. In Hawken’s, The Declaration of Sustainability, he begins by discussing how Ben & Jerry’s is just one company to have become a successful company while still remaining environmentally and socially conscious. He states that, “corporations, because they are the dominant institution on the planet, must squarely face the social and environmental problems that afflict humankind” (432). In order for corporations to become more sustainable, Hawken believes that we need to align our systems of commerce productions with the natural world. Corporations were inherently created to exist for us, not the other way around. But citizens have rather become those who are working for the corporations’ favor. Hawken secondly believes that they must project costs to the environment and that companies should be taxed for environmental degradation. They impacts made to the environment should not go unnoticed. In order for corporations to reduce their impact on the environment they can imitate natural systems in their production and thus make certain their products can be reused and not simply discarded. Citizens however have a duty to ensure the corporations follow sustainable procedures. We should boycott products that use unsustainable methods and become biologically literate. Corporations must respect the well being of humans as well as the nonhumans and the earth. A corporation, as Hawken describes, has no purpose is it not working for the betterment of the world. All corporations, by law, should hold social and environmental responsibility.

Question: Would corporations follow a code of sustainability if the government provided tax breaks or subsidies for doing so?  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Environmental Justice Ethics (Intergenerational Justice)

In sections 2.8, 80, and 81, and the article Environmental Justice, the authors discuss the distributions and benefits and burdens of environmental issues. We often only think in terms of environmental justice for humans. Although, environmental issues face a number of non-humans and other organisms that cannot participate are make reasonable arguments against injustice. Environmental justice originally began and merged with the civil rights movement. It was evident that African Americans suffered most of the burden of environmental hazards and waste. Thus, the United States EJM or environmental justice movement came forth through which distributive-justice analyses were performed. These analyses “not only delineated inequalities but also focused attention on the hidden processes of political influence and decision making that have underlain this inequitable distribution of environmental burdens” (Figueroa 342). Work done by the EPA further unveiled the unequal distribution of environmental hazardous waste sites by showing how white communities were rarely within a mile radius of a site in comparison to African American communities. Vicki Been makes an interesting observation about why this may not be from environmental racism. She believes that “poorer cities may very well be drawn to lower property values, and more affluent citizens may enjoy even greater mobility in moving away from burdens before experiencing the loss of property value and self esteem” (344). Therefore, it might not be that the people themselves are specifically being targeted but rather the areas of which they live are targeted and thus they suffer the heaviest burdens. However, this argument does not take into consideration the desperation of some communities being compensated for being subjected to these burdens. Peter Wenz came up with a rather radical idea about distribution of environmental burdens. He believes that those who consume the most of environmental resources should suffer the most burdens. This in turn would dissuade high levels of consumption and take away about “70 percent of environmental racism” (344). Environmental justice is not only a Imageproblem faced by Americans; rather it is a global issue just the same. Normally countries that benefit the most environmental resources suffer the least amount of burdens, yet these countries insist on the strongest environmental measures. Thus, developing countries suffer a loss as well as the burdens brought upon by the developed nations. It is a constant slope of inequality.

            I believe that environmental discrimination and racism are surely happening around the world. The expression of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard), is evident in almost every natural disaster. For example, Americans only seem to become strongly concerned about the environment when they face the direct effects of climate change. When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast last year, suddenly Americans were supporting the idea of climate change. Thus, the only real way for them to have some concern is if they are personally at risk. As other countries, most recently the Philippines, are faced with devastating disasters from hurricanes and typhoons, climate change is already on the back burner of our countries’ concerns. Unless we are directly affected, and environmental issues become a burden for us, there will be no immediate change to regards towards the environment. It is hypocritical of developed nations to be telling developing nations that they cannot omit a certain amount of CO2, for we our prohibiting their development. Yet, it was ok for us to deplete resources and ruin the ozone layer in order for us to become a super power. Our entire outlook on the environment is unjust, for we think we have more authority over other nations. 

Question: Why were the United States and China allowed to not agree upon following the Kyoto Protocol?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Environmental Virtue Ethics & Pragmatism

In Bryan Norton’s Environmental Ethics and Weak Anthropocentrism, he works to come up with a distinct environmental ethic. Norton begins by asking whether or not the environment should have fundamental value, for this notion is what ultimately shapes one’s own environmental ethics. Firstly, he believes that successful environmental ethics must be nonindividualistic. One cannot view nature and how they treat nature within their own terms, for this would surely lead to exploitation of resources. Without a universal set of environmental ethics, there is still a set of human actions that all environmentally conscious individuals believe are threatening to the environment. In order to establish a code of environmental ethics, Norton makes the distinction felt preferences and considered preferences. Felt preferences are “any desire or need of a human individual that can at least temporarily be sated by some specifiable experience of that individual” (183). Considered preferences are “any desire Imageor need that a human individual would express after careful deliberation, including a judgment that the desire is consistent with a rationally adopted worldview” (183). After distinguishing two preferences, Norton categorizes them into an anthropocentric view. He believes that strong anthropocentrists hold felt preferences, for all value references to the human individual. Thus, weak anthropocentrists hold considered preferences, which bear the ideals of a broader worldview. Norton explains that he developed this distinction to show that a framework exists for developing powerful reasons for protecting the environment. Norton states that “ethical questions about the environment can be divided into one’s concerning distributional fairness within generations and others concerning longer-term cross-generational issues” (187). Norton concludes by stating that it is most important for humans to have a sense of harmony with nature. Instead of wanting to protect the environment for its intrinsic value, we should see ourselves as part of its many systems. Lastly, he believes that since these preferences are now far too exploitative and too consumptive for the good of our own species, showing concern for other species that share our long-term needs for survival might be one useful tool in a very large kit” (191).

            I agree with Norton, that we should stray away from felt preferences and instead hold considered preferences, for they take away the focus from the individual. However, I don’t necessarily believe that people will begin to make decisions based on the fact that it correlates with rational worldviews. When it comes down to it, most people make decisions on how it affects them personally. Only after analyzing how a situation will affect them do people take other people into consideration. Therefore, I agree more with Calicott’s point of view who Norton criticizes. I believe that if people are going to fully respect nature and make rational decisions for how they treat nature, they must believe that it holds some intrinsic value. People however must be taught that nature has intrinsic value from an early age. They must earn respect and concern for its well-being. Most people will disregard the notion of universal worldviews, for they will always look upon their actions towards the environment with an individualistic attitude. It is step in the right direction for humans to hold considered preferences, but considered preferences will only result from attribution of intrinsic value. 

Question: Humans are aware that they are reliant on the earth’s resources such as clean air, clean water, and other ecosystem services for survival. However, does this awareness necessarily mean that humans will recognize their excessive consumptive preferences? 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Should Citizenship, Values and Politics Be Able to Override the Free Market? The Case For Environmental Politics and Law

In section 40, entitled At the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, or Why Political Questions Are Not All Economic, Mark Sagoff discusses how we approach environmental decisions based on economic reasoning and the consumers’ influence on the policy formation. Sagoff recognizes that it is impossible to put a price label on goods and services such as open, untouched land and clean air. He states that, “the question arises, then, whether what we want is consistent with the goals we would set for ourselves collectively as citizens” (328). He concludes that it is Congress’s role to have policy balance “ideological, aesthetic, and moral goals” with our economic goals. Sagoff further argues that people cannot merely be viewed as consumers just as the environment cannot merely be seen as a resource to fulfill the needs of the market. Thus, a cost-benefit analysis cannot be used when environmental policy is being shaped. Cost-benefit analysis is strictly concerned with “maximizing efficiency or wealth” (331). Economists claim that they are best to handle policy making because they hold a neutral stance among the competition of values. I, however, do not believe that this is true. Economists are most interested in decision-making that will create the greatest economic growth. They are not interested in analyzing what might be right or wrong in terms of policy making, rather it all comes down to the maximization of wealth. As Sagoff puts it, “it is an indifference toward value—an indifference so deep, so studied, and so assured that at first one hesitates to call it by its right name” (333). In terms of policy-making, our society is broken up into those who can create such policies and those who have preference over the decisions of such policies. But the level of value placed upon both parties is unequal. Sagoff concludes that the effective party is the source of all value, which in turn affects the public self’s participation of power over policy-making.

            In Ernest Partridge’s Consumer or Citizen?, Partridge begins by questioning how the United State’s views its citizens. He believes that our freedom is no longer the priority; rather, we are valued according to our level of consumption. To put it simply, we are mindless consumers. Partridge goes on to discuss how politicians even treat us as consumers when campaigning. When Imagepoliticians are soliciting votes, they are practically selling themselves to us, even if this requires them to lie about their positions on social issues. Yet, Partridge believes that our “moral point of view” is our saving grace, as it “enables us to recognize excellence in individuals (“virtues”) and in societies (“justice”).” Furthermore, the ideal citizen is unmoved by the salesmanship of the government and politicians. Those who do not agree with the United State’s recent shift in “freedom” are seen as traitors. But doesn’t this statement contradict the first values of the United States, that being the freedom of speech. We should be allowed to question our country’s current state as it says so in the Bill of Rights. But the United States, and as Partridge describes them as, the oligarchs, view the ideal resident, “while well-trained so as to increase productivity, will not be well-educated to think critically or creatively, for original and dissenting ideas may upset the efficiency of the market place.” I believe that the best solution for people to shift from mindless consumers to informed citizens is through education. The more informed the citizen is, the less inclined they will be to move through society like cattle and accord to the lies of the oligarchs.

Question: Is it far ahead in the future before our country shifts from consumers to citizens, or will our condition only get worse before it gets better? 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Environmental Ethics Practicum

For my practicum, I decided to work in St. Rose’s garden, once a week for two hours. During my time working at St. Rose’s Garden I helped weed the beds of vegetables, plant additional seeds, water the beds, turn over soil, and spruce up the flowers, wrap twine around taller vegetables, and install a drip irrigation system. Pictured below are the radish seeds I planted. It was rewarding to see their progress week after week. I was also excited to see that something I planted successfully grew! I was very impressed with St. Rose’s compost station that I took home a sealed container and started one of my own in my kitchen. My roommates and I now compost all our fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, flowers, seeds and other food that is allowed within the compost. Instead of wasting all of these valuable scraps, they are now being used to help create rich soil for the garden. I’m truly able to see now how much of our food gets wasted by simply being thrown along with all the other garbage. With other members of St. Rose’s garden, we held a pickling party. We pickled leftover cucumbers and zucchini from the CSA. Everyone took part in cutting up the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and other vegetables and together we were able to make quite a feast. We created a fig jam and a grape jam, as well as salsa verde and pico de gallo. Everything was delicious, fresh, and organic and it was comforting to know where all the produce came from directly.

 ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Should Market Failures Be Corrected By Government Regulation? The Case For Environmental Economics & Should Ecosystem Goods and Services (Natural Capital) Be Included in Cost-Benefit Analysis and Measures of Economic Performance and Human Welfare? The Case for Ecological Economics

Image

Environmental quality standards should be set where the marginal willingness to pay just equals the marginal cost, the net benefit is zero, and the total benefits of environmental improvement are at a maximum

A. Myrick Freeman III was the William D. Shipman Professor of Economics Emeritus at Bowdoin College. Much of his work has been devoted to the development of models estimating the welfare effects of environmental changes such as the benefits of controlling pollution and the damages to natural resources due to releases of chemicals into the environment. In section 39, of Freeman’s essay The Ethical Basis of the Economic View of the Environment, he discusses many of the ongoing problems to environmental economics and various solutions to these problems. Environmental Economics applies the theories and methods of economics to problems in environmental policy and management. It builds on the normative principles of welfare economics. Environmental Economists “seek both to predict the effects of policy decisions and to design optimal policies that reflect individual and social values.” In environmental economics, utility is derived from consumption of market goods. This utility describes a good life in terms of happiness, well being, or satisfaction of preference. In an ideal world, everyone is rational with perfect information where trades are equal and no one is worse off. The existence of externalities leads to inefficient resource allocation and the need for public policy intervention. These externalities arise when one party takes action by imposing costs on another party without its consent of compensation. The solution would be for the emissions to be cut and the victims compensated. But this reality only exists in an ideal world. Freeman developed the Pigouvian Framework, which promoted corrective taxes to internalize environmental degradation. A beneficial system of pollution would be created where polluters have to pay tax in turn gives incentive to cut pollutions, as well as victim compensation. The Pareto Criterion says to accept only policies that do not result in an lose for any party, therefore each party benefits. However, very few policies do not impose some cost on some members of society. The most widely accepted criterionasks whether “the aggregate of the gains to those made better off measured in money terms is greater than the money value of the losses made by those worse off” (321). Essentially, if the gains exceed the losses, it is accepted as a compensation criterion. The winners can compensate the losers, thus resulting in no losers. As we know, the environment provides a number of valuable services and is the basic means to life, but it poses a problem to economists because it is a scarce resource. Individuals do not have property rights over the land, and firms do not have to take into account the costs imposed on others by their uses of the environment. There is no market for environmental services, and decentralized decision making of individuals and firms results in a misallocation of environmental resource. Thus, the market fails. In order to avoid market failure is to create property rights or the government can regulate firms through taxes and subsidies. Another environmental quality standard discussed by Freeman is Pareto Optimality, which “requires that each good be provided at the level for which the marginal willingness to pay for the good is just equal to the cost of providing one more unit of the good” (322). Many factors result from Pareto Optimality. An environmental quality standard set by this rule will almost never result in complete elimination of pollution. When the worst of the pollution is cleaned up the willingness to pay for additional cleanliness will go down. Those who benefit do not have to pay for the benefit and those who bear the cost of meeting a standard will not be compensated. Firms may find that creating some emissions is worth paying the taxes to the government – therefore the government can instill tax revenues to compensate those who are damaged. Pollution also results in human’s evaluating their value of life. There is a trade off between the risk of death and economic goods whose values we measure in money terms. Is it better to risk your health than face the risk of economic costs by eliminating pollution? This same goes for ecological effects – is it worth it to deplete an entire species, do we only take into account what economic value that species poses? When we evaluate environmental economics we are still placing too much emphasis on the trade-offs of pollution. We must not be willing to jeopardize our health, lands, and other species for the fear of monetary losses. We are too focused on economic gains to realize that none of this will matter if we are at serious risk. Pollution should not be seen as a means of economic growth but rather a risk to our well-being.

 Question: Will our outside sources of pollution be accurately included if a system of carbon taxing were to be implemented?  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What’s Wrong with the Idea of Endless Population and Economic/GDP Growth and Consumption in the Free Market Approach?

We continue to discuss the realization that our population is growing an exponential rate while our resources remain at a lesser state. In section 52, VanDeVeer states that as other non-human species have had predators that have helped control their population, humans have ‘few successful nonhuman predators.’ Although we have been able to supply food to those in need, with increasing demand, he points out that there are no technological advances to take away from the fact our demand for more resources. We cannot continue to ignore the consequences that will come about from overpopulation. In section 53, Thomas Robert Malthus’s essay entitled An Essay on the Principle of Population, he believes that we have fixed laws of nature. One is that food is necessary for survival. Two states that humans will continue to reproduce based on natural human behavior. Each factor goes hand in hand. Malthus explains that no matter what quantitative level we give subsistence, it will always have to be commensurate with the quantity of the population. Either we adjust ourselves to fit the aggregate of subsistence, or we somehow adjust the aggregate of subsistence to sustain our population. As our demand for food increases, Malthus states that we begin using an increasing amount of cheaper labor to produce more food at a given time. “In a fall in the price of labour, the condition of the lower order of the community must gradually grow worse and worse. But the farmers and capitalists are growing rich from the real cheapness of labour” (400). In recognition of population growth, section 54, If Earth Could Speak, we are able to read from the personified perspective of the earth and how she views the population. We have only been here for a blink of the earth’s history, yet within that time we have made considerable damage. Earth criticizes how humans regard conception so highly, as if it is something of a miracle, rather than seeing the earth’s natural makeup as something to preciously preserve. Earth’s viewpoint is blunt but realistic about the actions of humans. Following through from the direct approach to human population comes Hardin’s essay entitled Lifeboat Ethics. Hardin compares the earth to a lifeboat, whereas the rich take priority over the poor. The poor population increases at a faster rate than the rich, and therefore diminishes its resources at faster rate. Hardin discusses the use of food banks and how they have helped provide subsistence to nations with diminishing resources.  However, he takes into question the help Imageprovided by food banks, lending to the controversial idea that perhaps starvation could be used as of means of population control. Hardin also believes that food banks do not give poorer countries a chance to mend their ways and adapt to a lack of resources. They are constantly being fed from outside sources, which doe coincide with a natural process. Rather, a lack of would force poorer countries to stay within their bands of resources. In section 55, Julian Simon holds a different perspective on our quantity of resources in his essay Can the Supply of Natural Resources Really Be Infinite? Yes!. Simon suggests that we can avoid the notion of finiteness through a “discovery of a substitute process” (409). He further states that substitutes do not come from chance or luck, rather, when costs rise a substitute is necessary. Simon goes on to say that we cannot put a quantity on a resource because there is “no method of making an appropriate count of it, the possibility to create it, economic equivalent and sources from where it is drawn” (411). His final conclusion is that as long we continue to draw energy from the sun, we will ultimately have a finite source of energy.

            Regarding both Hardin and Simon’s arguments, I agree more with the beliefs of Hardin’s argument. He holds a more a realistic approach to the earth’s resources by understanding their finiteness. Although his opinion on the World Food Bank is a bit harsh and controversial, it is realistic. Does this mean that we should necessarily let people starve because in order to sustain the natural order of population control? No, but we also must see that humans lacking in proper subsistence is normal. The earth can only sustain so many humans. Simon does not see an end to resources, simply because he believes we cannot put a number or particular quantity on resources. This belief will only lead to further exploitation of resources. Simon fails to realize that other resources clearly have a finite quantity, as we have seen many species of plants and animals become instinct due to anthropocentric effects. Overall, Simon generalizes humans as consumers, by arguing that we care about resources for their utility, not for their intrinsic value, and seeing that there is no end to our utilities. 

Question: If Simon expects society to use substitutes for the resources that are diminishing, does he believe that every resource can be substituted? Or will we face permanent losses in some areas? 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let the Market Decide? Anthropocentric, Libertarian Free Market Environmental Ethics & The Tragedy of the Commons: Does the Free Market Inevitably Generate Market Failures, Pareto Inefficiencies & Externalities?

Image

So cute and cuddly!! But should we really care?

William Baxter was a law professor at Stanford University. He identified himself as a speciesist, believing that “any moral consideration of animals is in relation to humans” (wikipedia). In terms of environmental ethics, he stated that humans have obligations to how we treat non-human animals, but our interest in preserving animals is for the sake of human satisfaction. In Baxter’s article, People or Penguins, he establishes four criteria when attempting to solve problems of human organization, each point being fairly broad. The first criteria states spheres of freedom, meaning that every person is allowed to do whatever as long as it does not interfere with the interests of others. The second criteria states that no one should waste their labor or skills, for they can provide more for human satisfaction. The third criteria states that all humans have intrinsic value, and that they are not to be regarded as a means. The fourth and final criteria states that every human should have opportunities to improve his life and increase satisfaction. However, Baxter does not his criteria as pertaining to, for example, the well being of penguins. He states further that only humans have the right to make decisions about the well being of other non-human animals, for they should solely be regarded by what they do to benefit humans. Baxter tries to justify his point by stating that the land and species that alter the environment, “earth’s crust made mountains and seas,” was not regarded as right or wrong. Moreover, we cannot give one being moral superiority over another. Baxter recognizes that there is a “trade-off relationship between humans and the environment. There are costs to cleaning up the environment but he believes this costs outweigh the cost of losing natural beauty, for natural beauty gives us more satisfaction over material goods.

            In contrast to Baxter is Garrett Hardin, an American ecologist who showed great concern over humans’ lack of concern over population growth. In Hardin’s controversial yet highly informing essay, The Tragedy of the Commons, he begins by discussing how we cannot solve every problem through means of technology. More importantly, population cannot be solved in a technical way. Most humans do not want to admit that the earth and all its resources are finite.

Image

 Each person is constantly seeking to maximize his gain, thus every rational being will act in a way that leads to a tragedy of the commons. Pollution is a major tragedy of the commons, for air and water are not entities that can be formally enforced. Laws and taxes can be implemented but we have already seen the difficult in passing such legislation. Hardin states that we as humans can use morality to control our use of the commons, but morality can only function in a system at the time it is performed. We will not see the damage we do, but that does not make our actions now morally just. Hardin fears mostly for freedom to breed,for there is nothing to lawfully stop us from having children. Our society is designed to make everyone believe that there are equal rights to life and commons. Therefore, how do we as humans take responsibility? Hardin states that, “we must admit that our legal system of private property plus inheritance is unjust—we put up with it because we are not convinced at the moment that anyone has a better system” (VanDeVeer 371).

            I thoroughly disagree with Baxter’s points that environmental rights are only appropriate for the sake of human satisfaction. Humans have responsibility to preserve the environment because of intrinsic value not because of utility. He cannot make an equal comparison between the earth’s crust altering the land and human’s polluting the air. We have the capacity to recognize that we are doing is wrong. That is what makes us human; our rationality to decipher what is morally right and wrong. If every human were to hold the same rights as Baxter, we would surely deplete our resources and exploit the earth for our benefit. I do thoroughly agree with Hardin. We must recognize that our system of life is severely flawed. We as humans cannot continue to go on as we do now, for the population will one day reach a maximum level, which will result in a severe lack of resources. This does not mean that parts of the human population should be deliberately killed off, but humans should be concerned at their growing rate. Environmental resources do not grow at the exponential rate that humans do. Unfortunately, a majority of humans do not want to face this fact and believe that we will never reach a day when our population has grown to big to sustain human life. 

Question: Can Baxter be considered a true speciesist, when he believes that the protection of animals should not be based on their intrinsic value but rather the satisfaction they give humans? 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Non-Anthropocentric Contrast: Leopold’s Land Ethic

Aldo Leopold was an American author, scientist, ecologist, forester and environmentalist and furthermore a professor at the University of Wisconsin. As a job, Leopold had been assigned to kill natural predators of the particular livestock. After having done so, Leopold developed an ecological ethic, for he began to understand the importance of predators and the balance they maintain. Leopold “saw a progress of ethical sensitivity from interpersonal relationships, to relationships to society as a whole, to relationships with the land, leading to a steady diminution of actions based on expediency, conquest, and self interest” (wikipedia).

In section 25, entitled The Land Ethic, Leopold discusses how there is still no set of ethics in relation to human use ofthe land. Under Leopold’s premise of the land ethic, we must adapt our way of living from conquerors to fellow-members. Leopold states that the conquering way living is “eventually self-depleting” (Leopold). People assume that scientists know what’s best for the community and know what resources will flourish even after the use of these resources have been exhausted. Yet the scientist knows that the biotic system is too complex to be completely understood. That is why humans’ part of a community must not exceed what they have with uncertain knowledge. Leopold further explains that historical events are the results from the interaction between humans and the land. “The characteristics of the land determined the facts quite as potently as the characteristics of the men who lived on it” (Leopold). This demonstrates how we are not a separate entity of the environment of which we live in but rather there is a communal relationship between humans and the

Imageland of which they inhabit. He believes that there is no clear emphasis as to why humans care for the land. He believes that humans lack initial teachings of ethics towards the land, and thus feel a sense to dominant and control it. Leopold states that we hold some form of land ethics, but our ethics are still “governed wholly by economic-interest” (VanDeVeer 218). Every sense for preserving a species of plant or animal is based on its economic value. He believes that this perception of the environment is detrimental. “It assumes falsely, I think, that economic parts of the biotic clock will function without the uneconomic parts” (219). Both economic and uneconomic aspects of the environmental all contribute to the natural system. If one aspect were to become depleted, gradually the entire system would fail. This follows into Leopold’s concept of the Land Pyramid or otherwise known as the biotic pyramid. The pyramid shows the system of distributions between soil, plants, insects, animals and so on. Thus, each level of the pyramid provides a circulation of energy. In order for us to understand the land pyramid and develop a land ethic, we must have greater regard for the environment other than economic means. We as humans must have some emotional connection to the land if we are to feel some sense of concern for its well-being. Children must be taught from a young age, a sense of love and respect for land, as this will shape their philosophical standpoint towards the environment later on in life. I thoroughly believe that they way you are taught to treat nature will set your outlook on nature for the rest of your life. At a young age I was exposed to Animal Planet, National Geographic nature documentaries every sunday on PBS, hiking trips, as well as never having lived without animals in my house. Therefore, I was always taught to respect and love animals and the environment and therefore gained a personal connection for wanting to protect it.

Question: Is our concern and regard for the environment based on nurture, or is it in human nature to have some form of natural connection to the land?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Judeo- Christian History: The Two Traditions of Dominion (Anthropocentrism) and Stewardship (Non-Athropocentrism) & U.S. Environmental History: The Two Traditions of Conservationism (Anthropocentrism) and Preservationism (Non-Anthropocentrism)

In section 3, entitled Western Religious and Cultural Perspectives, VanDeVeer discusses how secular and religious beliefs shaped our attitude toward the environment, specifically focusing on Judeo-Christian tradition, and it’s detrimental influence. He believes that religion encouraged “human arrogance toward nature” (43). Humans treat the environment in accordance of how they have interpreted biblical texts. Animism, “or the belief that biodiversity has a spirit” (44), was destroyed by Christianity. A spirit was seen as only belonging to humans. However, the saving grace of religion is the stewardship view, which believes that there is a God who expects us to exercise responsibility toward the earth. Furthermore, the earth belongs to God but humans are expected to care for it. The problem with religion is that it is taken too literal. Those who closely follow religion believe that everything stated in the bible is right. For example, written in the bible, God commands humans to subdue the earth and have dominion over its creatures. This is specifically why religion is hazardous for environmentalImage ethics. The teachings of the bible fully contradict many beliefs held by environmentalists. Christians believe are against contraception, while environmentalists grow more and more concern over the increasing population. Religion instilled in humans that they should govern the earth. Humans feel as if the earth needs us, when, in reality, we truly need it. We have only been around for an inconsiderable amount of time during earth’s existence, yet we see ourselves as stewards. Humans must realize that we are the current greatest threat to the earth, and that our increasing environmental issues would cease if we stopped treating the earth dictatorially.

In Stoll’s reading, U.S. Environmentalism since 1945, he begins by discussing the early stages of environmentalism. American environmentalism first came forth as a major movement due to the catastrophic consequences caused by the discovery and utilization of the atomic bomb. As a result, Environmentalists strived for society to recognize, appreciate, and respect the beauty of nature and the species that inhabited it and to not just view and value the environment as an economic asset. Environmentalism now held a comprehensive meaning and goal and this was strongly because of industrialism. Before industrialism came about, individuals produced and used their own goods. Yet with industrialism, goods were being mass-produced with the help of environmentally destructive technology. Those opposing industrialism were aware of the environmental destruction such as pollution and over-consumption of natural resources that it was causing. Consequently, a sudden appreciation for the aesthetic aspect of the environment came about known as romanticism. Romantics viewed the environment as a tranquil escape from the industrialized cities and began to fight for the protection of the land they so valued. A second movement came from the controversies of the Romantics called conservationism. Unlike the Romantics, conservationists valued the environment for its economic function of resources that they believed was naturally part of society’s wealth. As time continued, environmentalists criticized the rate of consumption based on the overwhelming growth of population. With the aid of ecology, environmentalists’ claims could be scientifically supported. Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, utilized ecology to demonstrate how the consequences of our consumption would lead to our own demise. As environmentalism progressed, it played a major role in the platforms for the upcoming presidential candidates. Throughout Ronald Reagan’s term, he set environmentalism on the back burner. He believed, along with other political conservatives, that our consumption our resources would increase economic growth and that is was our right to exercise this. Environmentalists soon became alienated. But soon enough the public began to realize that environmentalism was not just an issue that affected one particular race or gender, but that the protection of the environment was a universal right for all humans. Today, urgency for environmental problems continues to grow.

Question: Did Christianity or technologically play a greater role in human’s role as a conqueror of the earth?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment