Environmental Ethics

Environmental Ethics

Homework 4: Environmental Ethics

Question 1

Anthropocentrism is a term referring to a human-centered perspective that all environmental responsibility emanates solely from the pursuit or in consideration of human interests alone. Anthropocentrism is inclined to the view that humans are moral persons who harbor a direct moral standing based on their inherent moral rights. As a result, they do not have any responsibility towards environmental conservation for the sake of the environment. Instead, any preservation efforts should be construed to further human interests due to their special status or human-centered notion of Anthropocentrism.

Sentence: Anthropocentrism resonates with the traditional view of morality that claims that humans form moral considerations as opposed to animals and non-living things.

Biocentrism espouses the view that humans have a direct moral obligation to living and non-living things in the environment for their own sake independent of their effect on the pursuit and fulfillment of human interests. As opposed to Anthropocentrism, biocentrism does not consider human interests as the sole aspect that defines environmental conservation efforts.

Sentence: Biocentrism recognizes the inherent importance of other components in the environment and strikes a balance between any conflicting issues in the realization of human interests.

Question 2

The book Silent Spring, published more than 50 years ago, played a critical role in igniting the environmental movement. It is one of the celebrated texts that espoused a redefining moment in the revitalization of the environmental movement. It empowered environmentalists and brought in a sense of responsibility among researchers and environmental enthusiasts, a move that propelled the environmental movement into prominence. The book “Silent Spring” is a candid presentation of the manner in which nature and the environment are compromised by synthetic pesticides, particularly Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT. Carson argued that these pesticides kill bugs but enter the food chain from which they threaten the existence of bird and fish populations. Although the arguments made by Carson in the book were not relatively new, the text became the first to draw them together and make extensive inferences and conclusions. The net effect was that it spawned a positive revolution in the environmental movement.

The book vehemently presents its issues through research, case study, and literary writing. One of the key case studies brought about in the book is the one featuring two small boys in Wisconsin who died after direct contact with the pesticide parathion. Through effective use of literary writing, the book evokes the emotions of the reader in a thrilling manner. It sends a strong message about the human poisoned nature that also poisons humans. Such an idea became a paramount pickup line characterizing the environmental movement. Therefore, the book popularized the concept of modern ecology, which is instrumental in the environmental conservation movement. Besides, the book espoused ideas that shaped the view of global warming, which helped galvanize support for the adoption of strong measures in addressing environmental problems.

Question 3

Religion and environmental ethics are closely related to various aspects. Religion influences the scope of environmental ethics and decision making in relation to nature. Animism, a religious belief that objects the premise postulates that creatures possess a distinct spiritual essence, which is one of the key religious underpinnings that influence environmental ethics. All major religions ascribe to the notion of animism, which has great environmental significance. Such a scenario draws a striking correlation between environmental conservation and spirituality of human nature. For instance, the Baha’i faith emphasizes the representation of the purposeful reflections of God through the magnificence and diversity of the natural environment. On the other hand, Buddhism epitomizes the essence of life in the natural world, largely drawing into the interconnectedness between spirituality and the environment. Similarly, Christianity opines that all creation is a manifest of the loving act of God and humanity should be inclined towards environmental conservation to preserve biological diversity since the destruction of God’s creation is sinful.

On the other hand, Islam harbors a relatively different but relevant view of the nexus between environmental ethics and spirituality. It holds that the role of people on earth is that of Khalifa, which means that people on earth should act as trustees of God because they are literally entrusted with the conservation of Earth and all elements of life. A critical evaluation of all faiths across the world leads to the conclusion that they all share a common ethic premised on the desire to harmoniously live and conserve nature. The old Muslim graveyards in Pakistan have specimens of original tree species owing to a taboo against cutting such trees. Besides, the Maronite Church of Lebanon has spearheaded the protection of Harisa forest for over a century. Therefore, it is evident that environmental ethics are closely intertwined with religion.

Question 4

The earth has been described as a super-organism in different spheres and forums. Arguments have been advanced in different measures to expand the view that the earth can be considered as an organism. The term organism refers to any individual entity that demonstrates or harbors the properties of life. As such, the argument that the earth is a superorganism gives the earth the attributes of life. The Gaia hypothesis, which has largely brought about the idea, has been instrumental in advancing the perception. Ideally, the human body is made up of numerous cells but some are none human. However, the various microbes and cells in the body play an instrumental role in ensuring a complete human being. The idea that the body is made up of numerous components that work together and support each other to form a complete human being forms the basis of the Gaia hypothesis and the inherent underpinning upon which the earth is considered as an organism.

Planet Earth perfectly fits as a single living organism, considering that it comprises of numerous objects and components such as humans, animals, and plants among other living and non-living species. Critical insight into the global biosphere of the earth reveals that it has different salient features that translate to the properties of a life form. Moreover, the perfect display of homeostasis or a state of self-regulation upon which things occur or operate is similar to processes that take place in the human body. The life-sustaining attributes of the earth demonstrate some remarkable stability, which is evident in all organisms. For example, the climate ranges, atmospheric composition, as well as water salinity appear to be biologically mediated.

Question 5

Population growth poses a serious threat to the environment in modern times. The view that massive population growth is an environmental challenge emanates from the over-exploitation, depletion, and destruction of resources to pave way for settlement (Cochrane, 2008). Other challenges resulting from population growth include pollution and the dwindling plant and animal life among others. Addressing the challenge calls for the use of safe family planning measures to control population growth. Environmental planning is also necessary to boost conservation efforts by balancing them with increased exploitation needs. As such, the environment can be maintained at equilibrium in line with the spiraling population to prevent negative implications. However, achieving the objective may be a challenge considering the rate of population growth.

Question 6

The proposal by Stone that trees and other natural objects should have the same standing in law as corporations is a valid argument that should be implemented to enhance environmental conservation. Despite the fact that companies and corporations are not human beings, they are capped with the ‘veil of incorporation’ that gives them natural rights similar to human beings, such as the ability to sue and be sued and owning property among others. Such rights aid in the success and operation of companies as they operate independently of the people who established them or own them as shareholders. Accordingly, environmental components should be granted such a legal standing to aid in their survival. The natural environment has been reduced to an object, lacking the capacity to advance or assert any rights, leaving it at the mercy of the people, who over-exploit it in asserting control. The ensuing environmental degradation will have serious consequences in the future if such actions are disregarded. Granting them legal rights would significantly enhance environmental conservation efforts.


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