Term Paper: Environmental Ethics Social Economics and Political

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Environmental Ethics and Morality

Ethics and Morality in Matters of the Planet and its Peoples

It is an awe-inspiring natural world that humans have evolved into and inherited. In it, through it, and notwithstanding its fragile underpinnings, for better or for worse (more on the "worse" side than the "better") humans have carved out cities, countries, societies and standards of living. Some societies, such as Western nations like the U.S., the UK, and other European countries, have abused the planet in a mad dash to continually raise their standards of living. This mad dash is taking a terrible toll on the planet. No longer can there be any doubt that the human imprint - lately "carbon imprint" is the operative term - has caused destruction, dramatic loss of species and habitat and chaos in that natural world. Human stewardship - in particular, unrestrained capitalistic attempts at stewardship - has resulted in disastrous damage to the planet. To wit, steadily increasing atmospheric temperatures - "global warming" - are wreaking havoc; those soaring temperatures cannot be blamed on any natural causes, but rather, on the release of greenhouse gases. In short, it is clear that the survival of this Earth may be hanging in the balance.

Within this framework of wealthy human societies abusing the natural balance of the planet, it must also be noted that environmental destruction caused in the main by highly industrialized nations - China included - is taking a disastrous toll on the developing world. Add to that dilemma the fact that there is, in America and other Western nations, a fundamental lack of any meaningful ethical strategy when it comes to the plight of less fortunate people in the Third World, and one can clearly see a hazy, fragile future for millions of impoverished people.

And hence, therein lies the problem. The ongoing reckless, bullish and greedy grab - by the powerful Western societies - for more technology and wealth comes at the expense of the environment; but also it pushes Third World societies to the brink of desperation and disaster. There is a distinct lack of values in the Western world when it comes to putting the interests of the natural world and humanity first; changes are drastically needed in this perverted system of capitalistic values overriding the true needs of a sustainable planet and healthy, happy people.

I agree with much of what this course has presented in terms of the need to come up with radical, dramatic solutions to enormously important problems. Those problems include world hunger and disease, lack of democracy, overpopulation, resource depletion, and the destruction of habitat and species. Added to that list should be the seemingly lack of commitment on the part of the American political powers to address any of these issues head on. Indeed, a problem as big as any environmental or social issue mentioned is the lack of political will on the part of the American Congress. This political aspect to the overwhelming planetary problems was not reviewed as much in depth as other issues in the class, but it should be mentioned in this paper.

In particular, since September 11, 2001, the will of the Congress of the United States has been either absent due to distractions in the search for political power among individual members, and/or it has been handicapped by a heavy-handed executive branch lusting for its own authoritarian power. The Congress (since 9/11) has turned over a substantial amount of its Constitutional authority to the executive branch. The executive branch (the George W. Bush Administration) has demanded more and more of that legislative and oversight authority and threatened those members of the Senate and the House of Representatives with political retribution if they did not comply with the Bush-Cheney demands. Bush-Cheney have said they know best how to find and kill the terrorists, and any interference by Congress has been dealt with through nationalistic rhetoric and skullduggery. In other words, if you don't support the president's plan to address the terrorists problems, you're not patriotic, and advertising will attack you in your next re-election campaign.

This Bush-Cheney power grab has led to widespread wiretapping and other violations of citizen privacy, all in the name of the "War on Terrorism." The point I make in bringing this up is that the meaningful search for sensible, workable solutions to the problems of hunger, disease, abject poverty, climate change, economic instability caused by corporate globalization and harmful World Bank policies, gender inequality and other issues, are sidetracked by the Bush-Cheney domination of the media. The messages that Americans get over their television (which is where the majority of Americans go for "news") are dominated by the political powers that be, aided by Fox News (Rupert Murdoch, Disney, et al.) which presents Bush as a hero in the fight against the Osama bin Laden-type terrorist and presents a picture of liberals as weak on terrorism and as standing in the way of the Bush agenda of staying the course in Iraq and installing conservative judges to back Bush's policies. Fox reporters, for example, ridicule those who believe there is a serious climate change issue facing the planet; and now Rupert Murdoch, Fox CEO, has purchased yet another powerful media outlet, the Wall Street Journal, a rather scary thought for those who cherish an open, objective and questioning press.

The bottom line is that those voices crying out for reform - an end to Third World debt, a freeze on genetically engineered food, a strong push for ecologically-friendly technology for developing nations, fairness for all within the animal kingdom, addressing climate change with revolutionary tactics, and more - are being drowned out by the rhetoric of the right wing, led by Bush-Cheney. The executive branch, in effect, has hijacked the airwaves and has turned the attention of Americans away from the lack of stewardship of the planet, its species and its less fortunate citizens. The executive branch has (in at least three known instances) censored science in order to change facts into language more compatible with their agenda.

Along with that, the profit motive of TV networks drives TV executives and programmers to rely on ratings, rather than the dissemination of real and important news events. Hence, the TV news shows tend to focus on kidnappings, child molesters, weird killings and bizarre celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton, because those people and their issues bring in better ratings and more advertising dollars. it's about money, not the truth.

What are my views when it comes to potential solutions? For starters, I thoroughly agree with 90% of what Ame Naess and others in that genre are thinking and writing vis-a-vis deep ecology. As to all the essays available for research into this paper, the ideas and concepts put forward in deep ecology make the most sense to me. An earth consciousness on the part of the citizenry is necessary before specific changes can be attempted at the government and community level.

DEEP ECOLOGY: Simply being "nice" to nature and planting a few trees on Earth Day - while local television reporters provide video coverage so there is a "reward" for the good deeds - is no longer a realistic option. When it comes to the preservation of the natural world, there are far deeper questions to be asked, and to be answered, than just those that apply to science and conservation. The opinion of bright learned and philosophically alert people must be given consideration in matters of deeper truths regarding the planet, the conservation of the planet, and how humans should approach these above-mentioned issues.

For example, one of the approaches to take when searching for a workable strategy, for seeking that elusive truth and perspective, is the concept of "deep ecology." The phrase was coined by Arne Naess in 1973; author Naess was attempting to delve more fully into the spiritual approach to issues of the natural world and the human relationship to that natural world. An essay by Bill Devall and George Sessions points out that deep ecology should be viewed as far more than "a shallow approach" to problems of an environmental nature. Deep ecology is also involves philosophy and ethics - as those disciplines relate to human understanding. Devall and Sessions quote several learned individuals as they present their essay; among those quoted is Theodore Roszak, who sees deep ecology as "...an awakening of wholes greater than the sum of their parts" (Devall, et al., 264)

In order to begin to grasp what people like Naess, Roszak, and others of equal scholarly stature are saying, a careful, thoughtful reading of essay materials must be conducted. The essay by Devall and Sessions asserts that in order to embrace deep ecology one must first make a radical exit from the "dominant worldview" of the material world. That dominant worldview is one in which technology and the ongoing industrial revolution is part of the problem, because humans tend to see themselves as "separate and superior to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Environmental Ethics Social Economics and Political.  (2007, August 6).  Retrieved May 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/environmental-ethics-social-economics/6532

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"Environmental Ethics Social Economics and Political."  Essaytown.com.  August 6, 2007.  Accessed May 25, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/environmental-ethics-social-economics/6532.