American Military University - EVSP508: Environmental Ethics
Week 6 Forum Topic:
Who Owns the Air?
This week we consider the topics of pollution of the water, soil, and air and also the contemporary topic of climate change and energy policy. There are so many excellent essays to cover this week ranging fromdiscussion on the dirtiest city on the planet to ethics surrounding global climate change. What were yourthoughts as you read through these essays? Is there any guidance provided as you synthesize these essays onwho owns the common pool resources, and is ownership even necessary for management and preservation of these resources?After reading these two chapters on pollution and climate, I find I have more questions than answers. Whatwere some of the major questions you had after reading? Keep in mind that we are in a course onenvironmental ethics and not the science of pollution or global climate. If you decide to argue these concepts,be sure your posts are well researched and properly cited. Focus on academic research on the topics and notcommon media sources. Identifying the nature of the source of the information you have researched isactually a critical focus for all of your graduate level research.
My forum posting
After reading the two chapters on pollution and climate, I think the biggest question I have (and had,actually, before the
reading) are, “Why do some American corporate and political leaders insist on denying
the existence of, and contributors to anthropogenic climate change, or
for many of those that don’t engage
in such denial
why don’t they comprehend or why do they re
fuse to acknowledge how seriously
detrimental climate change is to the future of life on earth?”
For cynical me, it seems that underlying the answer to those questions is an almost incomprehensible andabhorrent attitude of gross entitlement, selfishness, and greed possessed by many of those people. It is thatassessment of leadership persons
even though they are probably a numerical minority
that serves aprimary driver of my advocacy for environmental pragmatism. No amount of moralizing or pointing out theirobviously unethical behavior is going to convince executives at Massey Energy to stop mountaintop removalmining; or executives at Perdue to switch from caged to free ranging poultry; or executives at Halliburton toabide by strict regulation of methodology in, and limits on amount of, hydrofracturing for natural gas. Inother words, people of such moral paucity (who I contend do
all inclusively or in the great majority
actually understand that anthropogenic climate change is real and that their industrial practices aresignificantly contributing to it) also fail to understand or refuse to concede the legitimacy of
(2002)premise for duty to act responsibly:Given that it is highly likely that climate change will cause serious distress to large portions of thefuture human population, all those who can do something about it are under an obligation to dealwith this threat to future humanity. Our obligation comes from two sorts of universal moral duties: aduty of non-maleficence [sic]--not doing wrongful harm to others--and a duty to assist those whoneed help in order to avoid harm and suffering. (internet site pg 1)The essay by Monbiot (2006) gives a fairly understandable explanation as to why people of wealth and
power, i.e. the “professional classes,” willfully ignore climate change or minimize its effects: they “have themost freedom to lose and the least to gain from an attempt to restrain it.” (p. 459).
However, I have neverbeen able to wrap my brain around this: if the leadership in business and government agree to policy andregulations that properly minimize pollution and regulate resource depletion, the financial costs to thosepeople will in no way decrease their standard of living in the short term, and in the long term will improvethe standard of living for all people, and all life on earth.