Essay: Environmental Ethics Ethical Responsibility

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Environmental Ethics

Ethical responsibility to the environment must be approached from two perspectives: first, the responsibility a man has to himself, his generation, and future generations to preserve a rich and life-sustaining biosphere; second, the responsibility a man has to the heritage of natural life and beauty passed on to him by his forbearers. Today, both the human and natural worlds are in danger due to the unethical practices of generations past which, sadly, continue today. The single most pressing issue in environmental ethics is the destruction of our biosphere by global warming, a process which is steadily deforming man's common natural heritage, while simultaneously degrading the planet's ability to support the human race in the first place. Recent studies show the gradual way in which global warming works -- gradual yet inexorable -- a process that allows humans to sit, like the proverbial frog, comfortably in the pot while around them the water rolls to a boil. To behave ethically, humanity will have to radically alter its industrial, corporate, political, and personal practices in order to insure that future generations will be able to live comfortably amid the rich natural heritage of our planet; but the question goes beyond an ethical concern to the danger imposed to millions, billons -- countless -- lives, by changing natural conditions.

The fact is that, in large part, it is impossible to look to the institutions of humanity -- governments and corporations -- to lead away from the danger. In the past these institutions have been primary movers of the damage; fueled by humanity's insatiable greed they cut forests, dredged up oil, burned coal, built cars, and burned down ecosystems. Though today a global-scale effort is being made on the institutional level to reverse the paradigm and practices which have led humanity to this crux, it seems elementary that one does not trust the chickens to the fox's care.

Where institutional regime has failed, it falls to the individual to save himself and his people by behaving ethically and responsibly with regard to the planet. This type of behavior begins with an apprehension of the natural heritage passed down, by which appreciation and concern are fostered. Since the industrial revolution it has been harder and harder for each successive generation to come face-to-face with nature and it is always easier to turn a blind eye to what one does not see, taste, feel, or know.

As an avid hiker, I have made a point of pursuing first hand experience of man's natural heritage, and can feel the loss more viscerally when it is reported that a wilderness has been desecrated, that an ancient oak has been torn down, that a sea has been slicked. Some time ago, I had the opportunity to take a seven day trip down the eastern seaboard's Appalachian Trail; before and after that I remained an aficionado of natural spaces, even in my own natural habit -- an urban setting -- wherein places where the wilderness encroaches are still to be found. Some time thereafter, I exercised another opportunity to have a short, three day ramble through the southern Amazon in the Amazonas state of Brazil. Both of these trips brought me face-to-face, head to dirt, skin to leech with the natural world and it is my strong opinion that no one could have been there and be un-moved by the power, beauty, and fecundity of raw Earth. Kinship is the ultimate feeling which arrests the contemplator. Fear, too, is the feeling which he finds when he returns home and studies the state of human affairs in relation to the environment.

It is my belief that the lack of this up-close, visceral experience is the primary factor which prevents humanity from feeling a greater empathy for their environment. 3G networked lives amid concrete jungles leave little room for contemplation of the biosphere; nature seems remote and unconnected. Without that feeling of Kinship it will prove impossible for humanity to save its planet, and ultimately itself, from -- well, from itself.

The effects of global warming are widespread, if… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Environmental Ethics Ethical Responsibility.  (2010, April 6).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/environmental-ethics-ethical-responsibility/473

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