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EVSP508 Week 5 Forum Post - - Who Has Value

EVSP508 Week 5 Forum Post - - Who Has Value

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Published by mark_cave
My Week 5 forum posting for the AMU Environmental Ethics course
My Week 5 forum posting for the AMU Environmental Ethics course

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Published by: mark_cave on Jan 16, 2012
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American Military University - EVSP508: Environmental Ethics Week 5 Forum Topic: Who Has Value?

The Assignment In the first half of this course, we discussed personal values from religious beliefs to eating preferences. During this time we read a broad range of theoretical perspectives in environmental ethics. This week we consider how personal values translate into an environmental ethic. "Ethics" refers to a code or mutually agreed upon set of principles that guide actions. Our values help us to justify an approach to environmental ethics but also sometimes obscure the most useful approach, if one exists. For example, some students discuss vegetarianism in week two when we read about animal rights yet there are also suggestions that our current agricultural system cannot support the population on a vegetarian diet alone. Quite a dilemma. Thinking back on our discussions and readings, what unit of life/organization should be the focus for environmental ethics: individuals, species, populations, communities, or ecosystems? Present your argument with support from course readings or outside research. Consider this a test run for an academic essay where you situate your personal take on the issue within the larger scope of what has already been written about it. This week's discussion should be good preparation and motivation for your final project: identifying an environmental ethic for U.S. government agencies. My forum posting I was substantially delayed in starting this forum post by writer’s block – I struggled and struggled to bring forward my subconscious thoughts on the question posed (What unit of life/organization should be the focus for environmental ethics?), and then to formulate those thoughts into an articulate answer. As part of my process for that thought development and answer formulation, I read the coursework, lecture notes, and the forum postings by other students. It was the latter activity, more specifically my reading of the posts by Barry Xxxxxx and Sharon Yyyyy, that did the most pulling up front of those subconscious thoughts. You see, I wanted to give an environmental pragmatist answer similar to what I think theirs is: We need to focus all our efforts on making as many people – i.e. individuals – as possible fully aware of the all-lifedestroying trajectory that humanity is on, and on galvanizing those people to get humanity off that trajectory, also as quickly as possible. The problem I had with this answer is that I wasn’t sure that it actually answers the question posed. It instead felt like more of the same complaining over the endlessly ongoing academic debate about the root causes of a calamity while the calamity barrels along, getting worse and worse. I believe that in reference to “individuals,” the question is asking whether environmental ethics should be primarily focused on single specimens within a given species, with secondary focus being on one or more (progressively I imagine) of the classifications that follow – species, populations, communities or ecosystems. Upon reading Sharon and Barry’s interpretation of the question, I at first felt vindicated for wanting to formulate my answer in a similar way; then, as I mentally chewed on it, my subconscious and more nuanced thoughts began to gel, so that I think I can finally articulate them fairly well on paper. I still think that technically Barry and Sharon didn’t interpret the question in the way that it was meant to be interpreted. However, I do fully agree with them that for there to be an absolutely necessary and immediate sea change in how humanity treats the earth and its resources, the message calling for such change has to be broadcast to as many individual persons as possible. Besides the need to broadcast the message, is the even greater need for maximized acceptance of and action upon the message.

To achieve such maximal acceptance and desire to act, there must be multiple approaches, each tailored according to the perspectives of its targeted audience. Now, to avoid complete inertia, limited broad generalizations will have to be made on both the approaches and the targeted audience types. One real world example of such targeted approach development and application is described in a New York Times article and slide-show about a successful effort at getting central Kansans galvanized for conservation and renewable energy. In a region where people resist the notion of climate change, Nancy Jackson, the chairwoman of the Climate and Energy Project, decided to try another tack to promote conservation and renewable energy. Why not identify issues that motivated residents instead of getting stuck on something that did not? she reasoned. Reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil, being thriftier with energy use, creating jobs and acting as responsible stewards of God's creation -- these were ideas that people in the area could get behind. (Kaufman, 2010) So, I and – I believe – most of the other students in EVSP508 are alarmingly hollering that humans must intensely focus upon embarking on multiple strategies to dramatically change the way humanity is relating to and treating the environment. Hopefully, you readers have a good idea of where this essay is going in terms of more directly answering the posted question. To end the suspense: The focus of environmental ethics should be on all the units of life/organization: individuals, species, populations, communities, and ecosystems. That must happen in order to move environmental ethics out of debate in a strictly academic setting, and into serving as a foundational philosophy upon which to develop and implement a practical plan to fix the environment. On a regional or national policy making and research level, the focus will be more on communities and ecosystems – along the lines of Leopold, Callicott, Meadows, Taylor and Stone. From there, the focus will be according to the aims and motivations of the persons/entities formulating the policies, plans, regulations, or communications; and the target audiences’ characteristics, perceptions and biases.

References Kaufman, L. (2010, October 18). In Kansas, climate skeptics embrace cleaner energy. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/science/earth/19fossil.html?emc=eta1 Leopold, A. (2011). Ecocentric ethics: the land ethic. In L. P. Pojman & P. Pojman (Eds.), Environmental ethics: Readings in theory and application (6th ed., pp. 222-231). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Inc. (Original work published 1949). Callicott, J. B. The conceptual foundations of the land ethic. In L. P. Pojman & P. Pojman (Eds.), Environmental ethics: Readings in theory and application (6th ed., pp. 232-245). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Inc. (Original work published 1987). Taylor, P. (2011). Biocentric egalitarianism. In L. P. Pojman & P. Pojman (Eds.), Environmental ethics: Readings in theory and application (6th ed., pp. 205-221). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Inc. (Original work published 1981). Meadows, D. (2011). Biodiversity: the key to saving life on earth. In L. P. Pojman & P. Pojman (Eds.), Environmental ethics: Readings in theory and application (6th ed., pp. 187-189). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Inc. (Original work published 1990). Stone, C. (2011). Should trees have standing? Toward legal rights for natural objects. In L. P. Pojman & P. Pojman (Eds.), Environmental ethics: Readings in theory and application (6th ed., pp. 246-256). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Inc. (Original work published 1996).

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