The ethics of the global environment

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John Muir personified nature as an inviting place away from the loudness of urban centers. God can be found wherever you are, especially outside. Family worship was not just relegated to Sunday in a chapel. Placing intrinsic value upon nature through theology is a fundamental idea of Deep ecology.

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Anthropocentrism is the position that humans are the most important or critical element in any given situation; that the human race must always be its own primary concern. Detractors of anthropocentrism argue that the Western tradition biases homo sapiens when considering the environmental ethics of a situation and that humans evaluate their environment or other organisms in terms of the utility for them see speciesism. Many argue that all environmental studies should include an assessment of the intrinsic value of non-human beings.

Baruch Spinoza reasoned that if humans were to look at things objectively, they would discover that everything in the universe has a unique value. Peter Vardy distinguished between two types of anthropocentrism. Weak anthropocentrism, however, argues that reality can only be interpreted from a human point of view, thus humans have to be at the centre of reality as they see it.

The Ethics of the Global Environment

Another point of view has been developed by Bryan Norton, who has become one of the essential actors of environmental ethics by launching environmental pragmatism, now one of its leading trends. Environmental pragmatism refuses to take a stance in disputes between defenders of anthropocentrist and non-anthropocentrist ethics.

Instead, Norton distinguishes between strong anthropocentrism and weak-or-extended-anthropocentrism and argues that the former must underestimate the diversity of instrumental values humans may derive from the natural world.

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

A recent view relates anthropocentrism to the future of life. This implies a human purpose to secure and propagate life. Humans are special because they can secure the future of life on cosmological scales. In particular, humans can continue sentient life that enjoys its existence, adding further motivation to propagate life. Humans can secure the future of life, and this future can give human existence a cosmic purpose. In , the University of Munich and Deutsches Museum founded the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society , an international, interdisciplinary center for research and education in the environmental humanities.

Ethics and Global Climate Change | Learn Science at Scitable

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the academic journal, see Environmental Ethics journal. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. Play media. Main article: Anthropocentrism. Anarcho-primitivism Biocentrism Bioethics Climate ethics Conservation ethic Conservation movement Crop art Deep ecology Earth Economics policy think tank Ecocentrism Ecofeminism Ecological economics EcoQuest a series of two educational games Environmental design Environmental engineering Environmental health ethics Environmental movement Environmental organization Environmental racism Environmental resource management Environmental skepticism Environmental studies Environmental virtue ethics Environmentalism Hans Jonas Human ecology List of environmental philosophers Population control Resource depletion Self-validating reduction Solastalgia Sustainability Terraforming Trail ethics Van Rensselaer Potter.

Archived from the original on Retrieved Washington D. Bibcode : Sci Archived from the original PDF on A Sand County Almanac. New York: Harper Collins In: Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol.

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Journal of Applied Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Ecology: Religious or Secular? Heythrop Journal. Jan , Vol. From A Thousand-mile Walk to the Gulf.

Bill McKibben. New York: Vintage Books, In reality, the science of climate change, no matter how advanced, will never be sufficient to tell humanity what to do.

Science may be able to inform policy by forecasting how severe climate change will be, given different greenhouse gas levels. However, experience teaches that science alone is never enough. When confronting environmental challenges, considerations of fairness, equity, and justice must also inform any successful international agreement. This is certainly true of three major ethical dilemmas now complicating the climate change debate: how to balance the rights and responsibilities of the developed and developing world; how to evaluate geo-engineering schemes designed to reverse or slow climate change; and how to assess our responsibility to future generations who must live with a climate we are shaping today.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, together with subsequent agreements, is often hailed as a model environmental treaty. Although replacing chlorofluorocarbons CFCs clearly is much easier than weaning the world off fossil fuels, the ethical dimension of the ozone treaty holds lessons for tackling global warming. In dealing with CFCs, governments, industry, and science — realizing that CFCs and related manmade chemicals caused ozone depletion — quickly developed ozone-safe substitutes.

And recognizing that developed and developing countries had differing legitimate concerns, the international ozone agreements called for developed countries to take the lead in addressing the issue, because these nations had produced most of the substances implicated in destroying stratospheric ozone. A fund was established to help developing countries phase out ozone-destroying chemicals.

Technology transfer was addressed. Many different segments of society now recognize that an effective climate agreement must also have such an ethical dimension. Religious organizations have contributed to the dialogue, addressing such fundamental questions as the rights of poor people and developing nations.

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Nearly all the nations of the world now agree that atmospheric greenhouse gases should be kept below a level that would produce dangerous human-caused climate change. Its task was simply to assess the scientific research literature in a way that was policy-relevant but not policy-prescriptive. Science cannot say that a given atmospheric level of greenhouse gases is safe, and another slightly higher one is not.

Expecting that degree of precision from climate science is as unrealistic as expecting medical science to declare that one level of cholesterol is surely tolerable, and any higher level is certain to lead to a heart attack. Climate is complex. Einstein once remarked that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not more simple than that. However, science, speaking through the IPCC, can provide guidance by suggesting what degree of severity of climate change is likely to be associated with any specific amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

This information is found in great detail in the IPCC reports. Mainstream climate scientists like me regard these reports as the gold standard in our field. We use IPCC reports as textbooks for our graduate students, and they have been recognized as authoritative by national academies of science, by scientific professional societies, and most recently by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.


  1. The Ethics of the Global Environment;
  2. Labor Abuses?
  3. SOCIAL AND HUMAN SCIENCES.
  4. Rapid Excavation and Tunneling Conference Proceedings 2009;
  5. References and Recommended Reading;

The IPCC reports have guided the European Union in formally adopting a specific goal of holding global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius 3. In December , at a major United Nations-sponsored climate conference in Bali, I joined other climate scientists to help publicize a statement signed by more than climate scientists from more than 20 countries. Many of these scientists were also IPCC authors, but all of us signed the statement strictly as individuals. Our statement declared that by global greenhouse gas emissions should be cut by at least 50 percent below levels. This is placed in the context of ethical theory, and consideration is given to the way these values have transformed received ethical traditions.

Issues include the intrinsic value of nonhuman species, obligations to future generations, and the aesthetic needs of humanity. Both the universal responsibilities and their application are investigated. The international responsibilities to the planet are seen in the context of some of the most alarming future scenarios: limited access to water, the changing global climate, population explosion, the destruction of ecosystems, and even the extinction of humanity.

Nature and the Global Environment.


  • References and Recommended Reading.
  • Surface Water Photochemistry!
  • Ethics of the Global Environment;
  • Global Ethics and Environmental Ethics.

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