Реферат: Environmental Ethics Essay Research Paper Establishing an

Environmental Ethics Essay, Research Paper

Establishing an environmental ethic is of utmost concern to the human species to

better comprehend our place in the world and our potentials for the future. In

doing so, we must extend our thinking of rights and responsibilities. I believe

we must incorporate not only a temporal component, but also a spatial

understanding of the world as an organic biotic community and how consumption is

a part of the natural order. Aldo Leopold believes that conservation ethics must

be rooted in a determination: «A thing is right when it tends to preserve

the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when

it tends otherwise.» I would like to start with Leopold’s statement, and

further explore how the definitions of integrity, stability and beauty can be

better understood given three corollary’s: 1. All organic entities must consume

to survive? it is not only a right, but a responsibility 2. There are limited

resources to be consumed by organic entities on the planet 3. The human species

has the ability, through rational thought, to conserve ever-depleting resources

Leopold’s ethic attempts to extend what is of human, moral concern to include

animals, ecosystems, and endangered species. How can this concern be expressed

in today’s society? I see one problem with this argument in that there is little

discussion about power and influence that is inherent in current definitions of

rights. Therefore, I will introduce the notion that organic entities, those that

depend on the consumption of energy for survival, must retain the right to

consume resources to survive. Notions of right and wrong now have no standing

? it is a fact that organic entities must consume to maintain life. I will

turn to Callicott for some discussion of limits and to the Second Law of

Thermodynamics as a moral decree to conservation. The resources for survival are

diverse and limited, and we must explore more fully the components of a biotic

community as a whole to explore our moral limits. Community components Organic

entities exist (i.e. live) in an interdependent organic community. This

viewpoint will examine components of the world which are necessary to maintain

organic life. Biological entities are not the only things that require

consumption in these organic communities: Fire consumes oxygen as well as

organic entities, the atmosphere consumes radiation from the sun, water consumes

through the removal of essential oxygen to those that require it, and the earth

consumes through convection. The earth, itself, does nothing more than recycle

energy. Inorganic earth, water and air are also methods of transportation within

the consumption community. Temporally, to better understand the

interconnectedness with other entities we must look at humanities history

through the ancestry of the land. Leopold described the rings on a fallen tree

to show where, at different points in time, it may have been affected by other

forces of consumption. We can see this in a ring that is charred black due to a

fire over one hundred years ago, or where romantic lovers etched their names in

its sturdy frame. However, when we examine things at the microscopic level, a

rich picture emerges that relates our biological history with nature. Leopold

writes of this through the Odyssey of «Particle X»: In the flash of a

century the rock decayed, and X was pulled out and up into a world of living

things. He helped build a flower, which became an acorn, which fattened a deer

which fed an Indian, all in a single year. The human sensory methods of

discovery tend to miss many relationships between organic entities. We tend to

miss a lot of things when we are not actually living in nature as well. The

modern market-driven consumer society is very different from the consumer

community of the totality of organic entities on the earth? and quite

possible less complex. We tend not only to consume resources, but technology

allows us to build things that consume resources just in the production process

itself. These, in turn, produce forms of energy that can then be consumed by

human beings as a species. Finite energy resources Up until now, I have

neglected the inorganic life that abounds on the planet. I will now turn to the

Second Law of Thermodynamics which states that in any closed system, entropy is

always increasing. Organic entities require energy for survival, and entropy,

which is a measure of the amount of energy unavailable for work during a natural

process, is constantly increasing. That is, the more we consume, the more waste

is produced that is not available to organic entities to survive. Organic

entities and communities do nothing more than recycle energy throughout the

planet? from the flower, to the wolf, to the ocean. It is our consumption, in

relation to the community as a whole, that we must keep in mind. Community

stability The stability of the land is crucial to maintain the recycling of

energy for living communities. We run into problems with the realization that

energy can take on different forms, and those types available may not be able to

be consumed by the individual entities that inhabit it. Reductions in the number

of species, and their interdependent relationships, over time will result in

unstable systems which can no longer recycle usable energy due to the lack of

entities that can consume it. The human relevance here is that our actions,

which are currently removing entire organic communities, will have dramatic

effects on the stability of the organic community. Here, it is important to see

that individuals contribute to and affect the stability of the community as a

whole. Community integrity The integrity of the organic community is a difficult

concept to address in an ever-changing natural world. I would like to relate it

to the spatial component of interconnectedness between organic entities within

and between the organic community. Here, organic entities are but a process

within the recycling process of the earth as a whole. The individual components,

aside from extremely damaging human events, will normally not put a dent in the

community as a whole. The recycling processes of the community here include

weather phenomena, natural land movements, and ocean sinks and these have little

concern for the individual entities of the organic community. It is the

integrity and interconnectedness of the whole that can be compromised most

easily by human hands. Community beauty «The trend of evolution is to

elaborate and diversify the land [sea and air] biota.» Dr. Leopold

emphasizes the diversity of the landscape and its contribution to the beauty

that exists there. It is this component that combines the abstract and rational

thought in the human species. I believe the saying is beauty is in the eyes of

the beholder. This is probably the most difficult points to discuss because of

that. I don’t believe beauty can be subjected to the objective sciences of

today, where it would just be thrown within the current institutional power

structure. We must come to grips with our consumption patters, in relation to

the amount of energy that is required for ourselves, and other entities, to

exist. Callicott believed that the scope and rate of extinction could be used as

well, by examining the rate of species extinction, and compare it with previous

sources of information on the subject. This diversification that Leopold

discusses can allow us to frame beauty in an energy-consumption view. The human

species, and its endless creation of energy consuming and transforming machines,

has found ways to take away the rights of other organic entities to consume. We

have removed not only energy sources for other organic entities, but have

removed the entities altogether. Ecological Education Beyond the ethical

prowess, and more importantly, we need to change how people think about the

environment through education. The citizen-conservationist needs an

understanding of wildlife ecology not only to enable him (her) to function as a

critic of sound policy, but to enable him (her) to derive maximum enjoyment from

his (her) contacts with the land. The jig-saw puzzle of competitions and

cooperations which constitute the wildlife community are inherently more

interesting than mere acquaintance with its constituent species, for the same

reason that a newspaper is inherently more interesting than a telephone

directory. It is only through this democratic education process that we can

truly, as a consumer species, come together in moral environmental thought. The

virtual realities available to us today only provide virtual experiences.

Leopold believed experiential learning was the only way to overcome and to do

this was to get out into nature and get first-hand experiences. «Schools

and Universities need nearby pieces of land on which conservation problems and

techniques can be shown, and researches performed.» The Moral call This

process of consumption and waste production is repeated over and over until

there is no energy, usable by organic entities, left. The human species is the

only organic entity that can realize, through rational thought, this global

process which will result in the end of organic life on this planet. Really,

that is why this paper is being written! In essence, the amount of energy that

can be consumed is finite, naturally decreasing, and only realized by the human

species. It seems a fatalistic point of view, but in terms of human lifetimes,

the end of usable resources may still be thousands of generations away. A

re-examination of the primary consumption entities of today are not even

organic. They are mechanical devices, driven by a materialistic ethic, meant to

transform energy into types that our species can then consume. Cars consume oil,

power plants consume coal, and our packaging consumes trees. Not to mention all

of the conversions directly to unusable energy, such as plastics or even the

processes of material production itself. Of course, by removing the potential

energy base for other organic entities, this can lead to instability in the

organic community as a whole. Therefore, we must not ask too much of nature and

conserve the limited resources of the life giving Earth.


Leopold, Aldo. 1937. Teaching wildlife conservation in public schools.

Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Vol. 30,

pp. 77-86.

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