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Introduction: The Challenge of Environmental Ethics
Suppose that putting out natural fires, culling feral animals or destroying some individual
members of overpopulated indigenous species is necessary for the protection of the integrity of a
certain ecosystem. Will these actions be morally permissible or even required? Is it morally
acceptable for farmers in non-industrial countries to practise slash and burn techniques to clear
areas for agriculture? Consider a mining company which has performed open pit mining in some
previously unspoiled area. Does the company have a moral obligation to restore the landform
and surface ecology? And what is the value of a humanly restored environment compared with
the originally natural environment? It is often said to be morally wrong for human beings to
pollute and destroy parts of the natural environment and to consume a huge proportion of the
planet's natural resources. If that is wrong, is it simply because a sustainable environment is
essential to (present and future) human well-being? Or is such behaviour also wrong because the
natural environment and/or its various contents have certain values in their own right so that
these values ought to be respected and protected in any case? These are among the questions
investigated by environmental ethics. Some of them are specific questions faced by individuals
in particular circumstances, while others are more global questions faced by groups and
communities. Yet others are more abstract questions concerning the value and moral standing of
the natural environment and its nonhuman components.

In the literature on environmental ethics the distinction between instrumental value and intrinsic
value (meaning “non-instrumental value”) has been of considerable importance. The former is
the value of things as means to further some other ends, whereas the latter is the value of things
as ends in themselves regardless of whether they are also useful as means to other ends. For
instance, certain fruits have instrumental value for bats who feed on them, since feeding on the
fruits is a means to survival for the bats. However, it is not widely agreed that fruits have value
as ends in themselves. We can likewise think of a person who teaches others as having
instrumental value for those who want to acquire knowledge. Yet, in addition to any such value,
it is normally said that a person, as a person, has intrinsic value, i.e., value in his or her own right
independently of his or her prospects for serving the ends of others. For another example, a
certain wild plant may have instrumental value because it provides the ingredients for some
medicine or as an aesthetic object for human observers. But if the plant also has some value in
itself independently of its prospects for furthering some other ends such as human health, or the
pleasure from aesthetic experience, then the plant also has intrinsic value. Because the
intrinsically valuable is that which is good as an end in itself, it is commonly agreed that
something's possession of intrinsic value generates a prima facie direct moral duty on the part of
moral agents to protect it or at least refrain from damaging it (see O'Neil 1992 and Jameson 2002
for detailed accounts of intrinsic value).

Many traditional western ethical perspectives, however, are anthropocentric or human-centered
in that either they assign intrinsic value to human beings alone (i.e., what we might call
anthropocentric in a strong sense) or they assign a significantly greater amount of intrinsic value
to human beings than to any nonhuman things such that the protection or promotion of human
interests or well-being at the expense of nonhuman things turns out to be nearly always justified
(i.e., what we might call anthropocentric in a weak sense). For example, Aristotle (Politics, Bk.
1, Ch. 8) maintains that “nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man” and that the

value of nonhuman things in nature is merely instrumental. Generally, anthropocentric positions
find it problematic to articulate what is wrong with the cruel treatment of nonhuman animals,
except to the extent that such treatment may lead to bad consequences for human beings.
Immanuel Kant (“Duties to Animals and Spirits”, in Lectures on Ethics), for instance, suggests
that cruelty towards a dog might encourage a person to develop a character which would be
desensitized to cruelty towards humans. From this standpoint, cruelty towards nonhuman
animals would be instrumentally, rather than intrinsically, wrong. Likewise, anthropocentrism
often recognizes some non-intrinsic wrongness of anthropogenic (i.e. human-caused)
environmental devastation. Such destruction might damage the well-being of human beings now
and in the future, since our well-being is essentially dependent on a sustainable environment (see
Passmore 1974, Bookchin 1990, Norton, Hutchins, Stevens, and Maple (eds.) 1995).

When environmental ethics emerged as a new sub-discipline of philosophy in the early 1970s, it
did so by posing a challenge to traditional anthropocentrism. In the first place, it questioned the
assumed moral superiority of human beings to members of other species on earth. In the second
place, it investigated the possibility of rational arguments for assigning intrinsic value to the
natural environment and its nonhuman contents.

It should be noted, however, that some theorists working in the field see no need to develop new,
non-anthropocentric theories. Instead, they advocate what may be called enlightened
anthropocentrism (or, perhaps more appropriately called, prudential anthropocentrism). Briefly,
this is the view that all the moral duties we have towards the environment are derived from our
direct duties to its human inhabitants. The practical purpose of environmental ethics, they
maintain, is to provide moral grounds for social policies aimed at protecting the earth's
environment and remedying environmental degradation. Enlightened anthropocentrism, they
argue, is sufficient for that practical purpose, and perhaps even more effective in delivering
pragmatic outcomes, in terms of policy-making, than non-anthropocentric theories given the
theoretical burden on the latter to provide sound arguments for its more radical view that the
nonhuman environment has intrinsic value (cf. Norton 1991, de Shalit 1994, Light and Katz
1996). Furthermore, some prudential anthropocentrists may hold what might be called cynical
anthropocentrism, which says that we have a higher-level anthropocentric reason to be non-
anthropocentric in our day-to-day thinking. Suppose that a day-to-day non-anthropocentrist tends
to act more benignly towards the nonhuman environment on which human well-being depends.
This would provide reason for encouraging non-anthropocentric thinking, even to those who find
the idea of non-anthropocentric intrinsic value hard to swallow. In order for such a strategy to be
effective one may need to hide one's cynical anthropocentrism from others and even from

2. The Early Development of Environmental Ethics
Although nature was the focus of much nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy,
contemporary environmental ethics only emerged as an academic discipline in the 1970s. The
questioning and rethinking of the relationship of human beings with the natural environment
over the last thirty years reflected an already widespread perception in the 1960s that the late
twentieth century faced a “population time bomb” and a serious environmental crisis. Among the
accessible work that drew attention to a sense of crisis was Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1963),

Genesis 1:27-8 states: “God created man in his own image. a work that summed up in many ways the emerging concerns of the previous decade and the sense of vulnerability triggered by the view of the earth from space. supporting the anthropocentric perspective that humans are the only things that matter on Earth. Attfield 2001). Francis) might provide an antidote to the “arrogance” of a mainstream tradition steeped in anthropocentrism. plain to see. male and female created he them. argues that the main strands of Judeo- Christian thinking had encouraged the overexploitation of nature by maintaining the superiority of humans over all other forms of life on earth. Ch 112) argued that nonhuman animals are “ordered to man's use”. the Stanford ecologist. Modern Western science itself. and God said unto them. White's thesis is widely discussed in theology. White's thesis. the Judeo-Christian idea that humans are created in the image of the transcendent supernatural God. was “cast in the matrix of Christian theology” so that it too inherited the “orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature” (White jr. and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Here. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Contra Gentiles. the views of St. Be fruitful. 1207). they may utilize and consume everything else to their advantage without any injustice. This ideology further opened the way for untrammelled exploitation of nature. and has been subject to some sociological testing as well as being regularly discussed by philosophers (see Whitney 1993. in a much-cited essay published in 1967 (White 1967) on the historical roots of the environmental crisis. Commercial farming practices aimed at maximizing crop yields and profits.” Likewise. and by depicting all of nature as created for the use of humans.g. Carson speculates. 1967. According to White. in the image of God created he him.which consisted of a number of essays earlier published in the New Yorker magazine detailing how pesticides such as DDT. Paul Ehrlich. the environmental extremes to which we are now exposed would probably not be realized. In §10 of the commentary to the study. The sense of environmental crisis stimulated by those and other popular works was intensified by NASA's production and wide dissemination of a particularly potent image of earth from space taken at Christmas 1968 and featured in the Scientific American in September 1970. without technology and science. And God blessed them.. On the other hand. White argued that some minority traditions within Christianity (e. history. historian Lynn White jr. 3. and replenish the earth. Central to the rationale for his thesis were the works of the Church Fathers and The Bible itself. Clearly. Nevertheless. and over fowl of the air. was a living. are capable of impacting simultaneously on environmental and public health. shining planet voyaging through space and shared by all of humanity. and multiply. Around the same time. a precious vessel vulnerable to pollution and to the overuse of its limited capacities. however. Pt 2. White argues. is that given the modern form of science and technology. Bk. aldrin and deildrin concentrated through the food web. In 1972 a team of researchers at MIT led by Dennis Meadows published the Limits to Growth study. warning that the growth of human population threatened the viability of planetary life- support systems.. and subdue it: and have dominion over fish of the sea. the researchers wrote: . For example. Judeo-Christianity itself provides the original deep-seated drive to unlimited exploitation of nature. published The Population Bomb (1968). also by extension radically separates humans themselves from nature. Consequently. who is radically separate from nature.

Furthermore. His views therefore presented a challenge and opportunity for moral theorists: could some ethical theory be devised to justify the injunction to preserve the integrity. in particular. Leopold himself provided no systematic ethical theory or framework to support these ethical ideas concerning the environment. the anthropocentrism imbedded in what he called the “dominant western view”. Routley and Routley 1980)). Their concerns were motivated by a combination of ethical and aesthetic responses to nature as well as a rejection of crudely economic approaches to the value of natural objects (a historical survey of the confrontation between Muir's reverentialism and the human-centred conservationism of Gifford Pinchot (one of the major influences on the development of the US Forest Service) is provided in Norton 1991. advocated the adoption of a “land ethic”: That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology. but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. is just another form of class chauvinism. Routley asked us to imagine the hypothetical situation in which the last person. stability. and Norway. Australia. is in effect “human chauvinism”. national and world levels. since his or her destructive act in question would not cause any damage to the interest and well-being of humans. This view. and beauty of the biotic community. For instance. attempting to extend our moral concern to cover the natural environment and its nonhuman contents. who would by then have disappeared. (vii-ix) A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity. or “the western superethic”.We affirm finally that any deliberate attempt to reach a rational and enduring state of equilibrium by planned measures.the United States. which is simply based on blind class “loyalty” or prejudice. the Scottish emigrant John Muir (founder of the Sierra Club and “father of American conservation”) and subsequently the forester Aldo Leopold had advocated an appreciation and conservation of things “natural. (224-5) However. Routley points out that there is a moral intuition that the imagined last act would be morally wrong. The new field emerged almost simultaneously in three countries -. acted to ensure the elimination of all other living things and the destruction of all the landscapes after his demise. he argued. stability and beauty of the biosphere? The land ethic sketched by Leopold. in his “last man” (and “last people”) arguments. Nevertheless. direction and inspiration largely came from the earlier twentieth century American literature of the environment. In the first two of these countries. The call for a “basic change of values” in connection to the environment (a call that could be interpreted in terms of either instrumental or intrinsic values) reflected a need for the development of environmental ethics as a new sub-discipline of philosophy. An explanation for this . rather than by chance or catastrophe. must ultimately be founded on a basic change of values and goals at individual. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. Leopold's A Sand County Almanac (1949). the last person would do nothing morally wrong. also see Cohen 1984 and Nash (ed) 1990). surviving a world catastrophe. wild and free”. From the human-chauvinistic (or absolutely anthropocentric) perspective. was drawn on explicitly by the Australian philosopher Richard Routley (later Sylvan). According to Routley (1973 (cf. and unjustifiably discriminates against those outside the privileged class.

forests and mountains could be given standing in law then they could be represented in their own right in the courts by groups such as the Sierra Club. it was determined by a narrow majority that the Sierra Club did not meet the condition for bringing a case to court. whose destruction is ensured by the last person. Species. Ch 10). Meanwhile. debated and settled in court.S. Blackmun and Brennan mentioned Stone's argument: his proposal to give legal standing to natural things. From his critique. Rolston's example is meant to draw attention to a kind of action that seems morally dubious and yet is not clearly ruled out or condemned by traditional anthropocentric ethical views. is that those nonhuman objects in the environment. community needs and business interests to be represented. . as a body with a general concern for wilderness conservation. In a dissenting minority judgment. Routley concluded that the main approaches in traditional western moral thinking were unable to allow the recognition that natural things have intrinsic value. justices Douglas. and ecosystems. because they constitute a nature (or God) which is itself intrinsically valuable (or sacred). these natural things could become beneficiaries of compensation if it could be shown that they had suffered compensatable injury through human activity. This suggestion was inspired by a particular case in which the Sierra Club had mounted a challenge against the permit granted by the U.judgment. however. The Sierra Club. would allow conservation interests. Leopold's idea that the “land” as a whole is an object of our moral concern also stimulated writers to argue for certain moral obligations toward ecological wholes. which was at the time a relatively remote game refuge. according to Rolston's quasi- religious perspective. are intrinsically valuable and are usually more valuable than individual specimens. for instance. Natural processes deserve respect. Stone reasoned that if trees. and that the tradition required overhaul of a significant kind. since the loss of a species is a loss of genetic possibilities and the deliberate destruction of a species would show disrespect for the very biological processes which make possible the emergence of individual living things (also see Rolston 1989. Like Routley's “last man” arguments. such as species.S. challenged the development on the grounds that the valley should be kept in its original state for its own sake.-based theologian and environmental philosopher Holmes Rolston III. have intrinsic value. to eliminate a rare butterfly species simply to increase the monetary value of specimens already held by collectors. a kind of value independent of their usefulness for humans. communities. but not designated as a national park or protected wilderness area. the work of Christopher Stone (a professor of law at the University of Southern California) had become widely discussed. Stone (1972) proposed that trees and other natural objects should have at least the same standing in law as corporations. he maintained. they said. It would be wrong. Moreover. Forest Service to Walt Disney Enterprises for surveys preparatory to the development of the Mineral King Valley. for the Club was unable and unwilling to prove the likelihood of injury to the interest of the Club or its members. When the case went to the U. he argued. The Disney proposal was to develop a major resort complex serving 14000 visitors daily to be accessed by a purpose-built highway through Sequoia National Park. like any other legal person. argued that species protection was a moral duty (Rolston 1975). Supreme Court. The U. Rolston went on to argue.S. not just their individual constituents.

barnacles. Environmental ethics is the part of environmental philosophy which considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world. the historical analyses of White and Passmore. political and legal debates about the environment. the discussion of his position is given in a separate section below. . Any change in attitudes to our natural surroundings which stood the chance of widespread acceptance. can be regarded as having legal standing and. despite being predominantly “despotic”. likewise. the movement for “animal liberation”. the setting of stringent new priorities. had by the late 1970s focused the attention of philosophers and political theorists firmly on the environment.) Underlying these political disagreements was the distinction between “shallow” and “deep” environmental movements. Only items that have interests. he argued. the Norwegian philosopher and climber Arne Næss. Passmore cautioned that traditions of thought could not be abruptly overhauled. (Not that collectivist or communist countries do better in terms of their environmental record (see Dominick 1998). In sum. Granted that some animals have interests that can be represented in this way. The “realists” stood for reform environmentalism. Clark 1977. the pioneering work of Routley. Since the work of Næss has been significant in environmental politics. would it also make sense to speak of trees. Leopold's land ethic. and even the overthrow of capitalism and liberal individualism. rivers. John Passmore (1974) argued. or termites as having interests of a morally relevant kind? This issue was hotly contested in the years that followed. moral standing. Joel Feinberg (1974) raised a serious problem. For it is interests which are capable of being represented in legal proceedings and moral debates. The confluence of ethical. contained resources for regarding humans as “stewards” or “perfectors” of God's creation. the emergence of philosophies to underpin animal rights activism and the puzzles over whether an environmental ethic would be something new rather than a modification or extension of existing ethical theories were reflected in wider social and political movements. which were taken as the major ideological causes of anthropogenic environmental devastation. which also emerged strongly in the 1970s. Skeptical of the prospects for any radically new ethic. For instance. Feinberg argued. working with business and government to soften the impact of pollution and resource depletion especially on fragile ecosystems or endangered species. Meanwhile. and also the entry on the moral status of animals). like White. would have to resonate and have some continuities with the very tradition which had legitimized our destructive practices. that the Judeo-Christian tradition of thought about nature. forests. This same point would also seem to apply to political debates. Stone and Rolston. can be thought of as a political movement aimed at representing the previously neglected interests of some animals (see Regan and Singer (eds. and the warnings of scientists.Reacting to Stone's proposal. then. The “fundies” argued for radical change. a distinction introduced in the early 1970s by another major influence on contemporary environmental ethics.) 1976. The rise of environmental or “green” parties in Europe in the 1980s was accompanied by almost immediate schisms between groups known as “realists” versus “fundamentalists” (see Dobson 1992).

sociology. a philosophical article has explored recently the . as well as an essay by Aldo Leopold in his A Sand County Almanac. There are many ethical decisions that human beings make with respect to the environment.[4] Also influential was Garett Hardin's later essay called "Exploring New Ethics for Survival". was launched in 1992. based on this very assumption. Environmental Values. called "The Land Ethic. [8] In fact. The first British based journal of this kind. It has become customary in the Western tradition to consider only our species when considering the environmental ethics of a situation. Two papers published in Science had a crucial impact: Lynn White's "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis" (March 1967)[3] and Garrett Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" (December 1968). when environmentalists started urging philosophers to consider the philosophical aspects of environmental problems. Anthropocentrism Main article: Anthropocentrism Anthropocentrism simply places humans at the centre of the universe. All environmental studies should include an assessment of the intrinsic value of non-human beings. thus committing speciesism.It exerts influence on a large range of disciplines including law. For example: • Should we continue to clear cut forests for the sake of human consumption? • Should we continue to propagate? • Should we continue to make gasoline powered vehicles? • What environmental obligations do we need to keep for future generations?[1][2] • Is it right for humans to knowingly cause the extinction of a species for the convenience of humanity? The academic field of environmental ethics grew up in response to the work of scientists such as Rachel Carson and events such as the first Earth Day in 1970." in which Leopold explicitly claimed that the roots of the ecological crisis were philosophical (1949). theology. economics. everything else in existence should be evaluated in terms of its utility for us. the human race must always be its own primary concern.[5] The first international academic journals in this field emerged from North America in the late 1970s and early 1980s – the US-based journal Environmental Ethics in 1979 and the Canadian based journal The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy in 1983. ecology and geography. Therefore.

that “A few hundred years ago. Critics of ecocentrism have argued that it opens the doors to an anti-humanist morality that risks sacrificing human well-being for the sake of an ill-defined ‘greater good’. Instead. thus humans have to be at the centre of reality as they see it. Western people admitted that the planets. human overpopulation. In short. Norton prefers to distinguish between strong anthropocentrism and weak-or extended-anthropocentrism and develops the idea that only the latter is capable of not under-estimating the diversity of instrumental values that humans may derive from the natural world[11]. The philosopher Baruch Spinoza argued that we tend to assess things wrongly in terms of their usefulness to us. Anthropocentrism Main article: Anthropocentrism Ecocentrism is taken by its proponents to constitute a radical challenge to long-standing and deeply rooted anthropocentric attitudes in Western culture. Peter Vardy distinguished between two types of anthropocentrism. however. our thoughts and concepts though irreducibly anthropomorphic need not be anthropocentric. Anthropocentrism is alleged to leave the case for the protection of non-human nature subject to the demands of human utility. science. Likewise.[10] A strong thesis anthropocentric ethic argues that humans are at the center of reality and it is right for them to be so. and the extinctions of many non-human species. Sun and stars did not circle around their abode. and politics. by contrast. it is possible that a human-centred or anthropocentric/androcentric ethic is not an accurate depiction of reality.possibility of humans' willing extinction as a gesture toward other beings. [9] The authors refer to the idea as a thought experiment that should not be understood as a call for action.[citation needed] Spinoza reasoned that if we were to look at things objectively we would discover that everything in the universe has a unique value. with some reluctance.[12] Others point to the gradual historical realization that humans are not the centre of all things. and thus never more than contingent on the demands of human welfare.[11] Deep ecologist Arne Naess has identified anthropocentrism as a root cause of the ecological crisis.”[13] . Weak anthropocentrism. who has become one of the essential actors of environmental ethics through his launching of what has become one of its dominant trends: environmental pragmatism. What Anthropocentric theories do not allow for is the fact that a system of ethics formulated from a human perspective may not be entirely accurate. humans are not necessarily the centre of reality. is believed to be necessary in order to develop a non- contingent basis for protecting the natural world. argues that reality can only be interpreted from a human point of view. An ecocentric ethic. Environmental pragmatism refuses to take a stance in the dispute between the defenders of anthropocentrist ethics and the supporters of nonanthropocentrist ethics. and there is a bigger picture that we may or may not be able to understand from a human perspective. Another point of view has been developed by Bryan Norton.

see themselves as being subject to nature. and that low impact technology and self- reliance is more desirable than technological control of nature. Ecocentrics will argue that the natural world should be respected for its processes and products. why we cannot do without them . Rather. the need to find solutions becomes more urgent every day. Ecocentrics. they do not see them as problems to be solved by a reduction in industry. rather than in control of it. Indeed. control and even protect the environment. Although technocentrics may accept that environmental problems do exist. environmental problems are seen as problems to be solved using science.[edit] Technocentrism Main article: Technocentrism Ecocentrism is also contrasted with technocentrism (meaning values centred on technology) as two opposing perspectives on attitudes towards human technology and its ability to affect. including imperialists. Deforestation. Wildlife trade. The aspirations of more than one billion people. These are some of the critical issues that India grapples with every day.[14] Technocentrics. environmental failures Pollution. But as the country’s population and economy continue to grow. but the rest of the world too. Across India. Find out more • Forest problems globally • Forests: how they work. concern is mounting over an ever growing list of environmental problems. have absolute faith in technology and industry and firmly believe that humans have control over nature. technocentrics see that the way forward for developed and developing countries and the solutions to our environmental problems today lie in scientific and technological advancement Economic magic. while an economy in high- gear is leaving a trail of pollution that’s affecting not only India. More people means increased pressure on natural resources (from water to forests). including "deep green" ecologists. They lack faith in modern technology and the bureaucracy attached to it.

oil palm plantations and their impacts • What is WWF doing about the environmental impacts of oil palm globally? A thirst for palm oil India is a big edible oil consumer. Of these imports. there is fear that this could result in loss of high conservation value forests and biodiversity elsewhere. largely because of the clearance for oil palm and pulp wood plantations. 95% come from Indonesia and Malaysia. Increasing pollution is also leading to the destruction of the habitat of wildlife that lives in waterways. Conversion of natural forests for cultivating oil palm is a major threat to biodiversity and livelihoods in the tropics. along with EU and China. there are very serious concerns that this will happen at the expense of biologically and 2 economically important forests. domestic. In fact.3 1 As the nation will have to depend heavily on imports to meet this growing demand. Most of the lowland rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has already been lost. It is estimated that total industrial roundwood consumption in India could exceed 70 million m per year by the 3 end of the decade (350.Deforestation India is witnessing a rising demand for forest-based products. is causing this precious natural resource to dry up. while domestic supply would fall short of this figure by an estimated 14 million m . This is causing deforestation and encroachment into forest protected areas. With the global demand for palm oil expected to increase from 28 million tonnes at present to about 50 million tonnes in 2030 . including agriculture. drinking. energy generation and others.000 large shipping containers). which leads to a severe loss of natural resources. Pollution Increasing competition for water among various sectors. Find out more • Palm oil. . industry. causing negative social and environmental consequences in these exporting countries. it is one of the three largest importers of palm oil in the world.

Why is wildlife trade a problem? Wildlife trade is by no means always a problem and most wildlife trade is legal. elephants and others. For a more detailed list of the various uses of wildlife. What is the scale of wildlife trade? The trade involves hundreds of millions of wild plants and animals from tens of thousands of species. whether for food. but because it is conducted covertly no-one can judge with any accuracy what this may be worth. In addition to this. there are records of over 100 million tonnes of fish. utensils in exchange for wild animal skins. TRAFFIC has calculated that wildlife products worth about 160 US billion dollars were imported around the globe each year in the early 1990s. at Customs checkpoints.What is wildlife trade? Whenever people sell or exchange wild animal and plant resources. this is wildlife trade. To provide a glimpse of the scale of wildlife trafficking. . Why do people trade wildlife? People trade wildlife for cash or exchange it for other useful objects . Wildlife trade is easiest to track when it is from one country to another because it must be checked.5 million live birds and 440. What is wildlife trade worth financially? This is a difficult estimate to make. is wildlife trade.000 tonnes of medicinal plants in trade in just one year. This has been well-publicized in the cases of tigers.and the second-biggest direct threat to species survival. such overexploitation has caused extinctions or severely threatened species and. It can involve live animals and plants or all kinds of wild animal and plant products. but many other species are affected. demand for wildlife has only increased. However. Historically. visit the TRAFFIC website. and often recorded. As a guideline. Populations of species on earth declined by an average 40% between 1970 and 2000 . there is a large and profitable illegal wildlife trade. Perhaps the most obvious problem associated with wildlife trade is that it can cause overexploitation to the point where the survival of a species hangs in the balance. after habitat destruction. as human populations have expanded. construction or clothing. Driving the trade is the end-consumer who has a need or desire for wildlife products. 1. rhinoceroses. Recent overexploitation of wildlife for trade has affected countless species.for example. it has the potential to be very damaging.

The number of species of plants. but causes imbalances in the whole marine system...because it harms human livelihoods. many people in the developing world depend entirely on the continued availability of local wildlife resources. • . almost all cultures have recognized the . often the poorest.This overexploitation should concern us all. the different ecosystems on the planet.. Appropriate conservation and sustainable development strategies attempt to recognize this as being integral to any approach. and both wild animals and plants provide components of traditional medicines used by the majority of people in the world. but serious disturbances to the complex web of life. and microorganisms.. Wildlife is vital to the lives of a high proportion of the world's population. its biological diversity. • . For example. Biodiversity Last updated Sunday. the enormous diversity of genes in these species. In addition to the impact on human livelihoods caused by the over-harvesting of animals and plants is the harm caused by overexploitation of species to the living planet in a wider way. overfishing does not only affect individual fishing communities and threaten certain fish species. As human life depends on the existence of a functioning planet Earth. is commonly referred to as biodiversity. rainforests and coral reefs are all part of a biologically diverse Earth.. careful and thoughtful use of wildlife species and their habitats is required to avoid not only extinctions.. June 06. such as deserts. While many people in developed countries are cushioned from any effects caused by a reduced supply of a particular household item. The variety of life on Earth.because it harms the balance of nature. Some rural households depend on local wild animals for their meat protein and on local trees for fuel. In some way or form. 2010. animals.

Loss of Biodiversity and Extinctions Last updated Sunday. sustainable development and consumption would help avert ecological problems. For example. greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms. Despite increased efforts at conservation. it has not been enough and biodiversity losses continue. Read “Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares?” to learn more. power. and healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters. And so. . June 06. we still need to preserve the diversity in wildlife. Read “Biodiversity” to learn more. However.importance of nature and its biological diversity for their societies and have therefore understood the need to maintain it. The costs associated with deteriorating or vanishing ecosystems will be high. Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares? Last updated Wednesday. all have an important role to play. November 18. while we dominate this planet. Why is Biodiversity important? Does it really matter if there aren’t so many species? Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species. 2009. Yet. 2010. no matter how small. a larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops. greed and politics have affected the precarious balance. It has long been feared that human activity is causing massive extinctions.

Nature and Animal Conservation Last updated Saturday. Coral Reefs Last updated Saturday. . June 06. February 13.Read “Loss of Biodiversity and Extinctions” to learn more. Ocean biodiversity is already being affected as are other parts of the ecosystem. Rapid global warming can affect an ecosystems chances to adapt naturally. and other challenges are making conservation a struggle. Read “Climate Change Affects Biodiversity” to learn more. Climate Change Affects Biodiversity Last updated Sunday. The Arctic is very sensitive to climate change and already seeing lots of changes. illegal hunting. 2010. 2010. Preserving species and their habitats is important for ecosystems to self-sustain themselves. February 13. Yet. Read “Nature and Animal Conservation” to learn more. the pressures to destroy habitat for logging. 2010.

2001. are now Parties to that convention. much of the world’s marine biodiversity face threats from human and activities as well as natural. Addressing Biodiversity Loss Posted Sunday. Coral reefs are useful to the environment and to people in a number of ways. Perhaps predictably. Despite numerous successful conservations measures supporting biodiversity. Read “Addressing Biodiversity Loss” to learn more. many reefs could die off. March 19. all around the world. However. Read “Coral Reefs” to learn more. One type of ecosystem that perhaps is neglected more than any other is perhaps also the richest in biodiversity—the coral reefs. the Parties to the Convention committed to significantly reduce the loss of biodiversity loss by 2010. This page provides an overview on how the attempts to prevent biodiversity loss is progressing. . 192 countries. It is feared that very soon. the 2010 biodiversity target has not been met at the global level. plus the EU. that did not happen. the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was born. At the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). In April 2002. June 06. 2010. Biosafety Protocol 1999 Last updated Monday.

and there is now overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening. 1999 was not a successful year in that respect. The climate is changing. Some technological advances. Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. this time. and human-induced. However. Read “Biodiversity Links for more Information” to learn more. and five other countries of the "Miami Group" felt that their business interests were threatened. Compared to the fiasco of the previous year. All over the world. to which the protocol is meant to be part of. chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing. Recent years show increasing temperatures in various regions. Climate Change and Global Warming Last updated Sunday. concerned citizens and governments have been trying to take precautionary measures. Biodiversity Links for more Information Last updated Wednesday. not even a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity. July 01. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease. Biosafety Protocol 2000 Last updated Sunday. have been very fast paced and products are being pushed into the market place without having been proven safe. The safety concerns were unfortunately overridden by trade concerns. 2010. The earth is warming up. June 06. there had been a somewhat successful treaty to regulate the international transport and release of genetically modified organisms to protect natural biological diversity. Canada January 24 to January 28. However.The February 1999 Biodiversity Protocol meeting in Colombia broke down because USA. there were a number of important and serious weaknesses too. 2009. 2001. especially in genetically engineered food. and/or increasing extremities in weather patterns. Read “Biosafety Protocol 1999” to learn more. . Read “Biosafety Protocol 2000” to learn more. A Biosafety Protocol meeting was hosted in Montreal. November 18.

. It also attempts to provide insights into what governments. because the northern hemisphere oceans were not warm enough to allow rain formation. and/or increasing extremities in weather patterns. The climate is changing. Read “Global Dimming” to learn more. By cleaning up global dimming-causing pollutants without tackling greenhouse gas emissions. Global Dimming Posted Saturday. what the impacts are and where scientific consensus currently is. However. At first. as well as the challenges they face. Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. The earth is warming up. and various human health and ecological disasters have resulted. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease. and there is now overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening. Read “Climate Change and Global Warming” to learn more. it sounds like an ironic savior to climate change problems. 2010. chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing. rapid warming has been observed. which saw thousands of people die. Research has shown that air pollutants from fossil fuel use make clouds reflect more of the sun’s rays back into space. as witnessed during the European heat wave in 2003.This section explores some of the effects of climate change. international institutions. it is believed that global dimming caused the droughts in Ethiopia in the 1970s and 80s where millions died. 2005. Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction Last updated Sunday. This leads to an effect known as global dimming whereby less heat and energy reaches the earth. companies. June 06. January 15. Some of the major conferences in recent years are also discussed. This section looks at what causes climate change. and other organizations are attempting to do about this issue. Global dimming is also hiding the true power of global warming. and human-induced. Read “Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction” to learn more. Recent years show increasing temperatures in various regions.

For many years. influential businesses and governments have been against the idea of global warming. the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meterological Organization (WMO) to assess the scientific knowledge on global warming. October 04. The first stumbling block. However. has been trying to get an agreement on a framework. December 25.UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Last updated Saturday. 2004. This section explores some of those fears to see if they are justified or not. large. however. and many large corporations. Many have poured a lot of resources into discrediting what has generally been accepted for a long time as real. Read “Reactions to Climate Change Negotiations and Action” to learn more. However. Will all this mean a different type of spin and propaganda with attempts at green washing and misleading information becoming the norm. The United States plus a few other countries. Now. Spin and Media Last updated Sunday. the mainstream is generally worried about climate change impacts and the discourse seems to have shifted accordingly. 2009. or will there now be major shift in attitudes to see concrete solutions being proposed and implemented? . 2009. The IPCC concluded in 1990 that there was broad international Reactions to Climate Change Negotiations and Action Last updated Sunday. some even requesting governments for regulation and direction on this issue. have been against climate change treaties due to the fear of the threat to their economy and profits if they have to make substantial changes. as more climate change science has emerged over the years. The world mostly agrees that something needs to be done about global warming and climate change. a few influential companies and organizations are still attempting to undermine climate change action and concerns. many businesses are accepting this and even asking their governments for more action so that there is quick clarification on the new rules of the game so they can get on with their businesses. Even some businesses that once engaged in disinformation campaigns have changed their opinions. In 1988. Global Warming. October 04.

Read “Global Warming. Development expert. Spin and Media” to learn more. This recognizes that historically: • Industrialized nations have emitted far more greenhouse gas emissions (even if some developing nations are only now increasing theirs). the rich countries owe a carbon debt because they have already used more than their fair quota of emissions. Martin Khor. Climate Justice and Equity Last updated Wednesday. • Rich countries therefore face the biggest responsibility and burden for action to address climate change. This notion of climate justice is typically ignored by many rich nations and their mainstream media. their reduced emissions will still add up to be go over their fair share: . making it easy to blame China. 2009. there have been concerns that climate change negotiations will essentially ignore a key principle of climate change negotiation frameworks: the common but differentiated responsibilities. Yet. December 30. and • Rich countries therefore must support developing nations adapt—through financing and technology transfer. by 2050 when certain emission reductions are needed by. India and other developing countries for failures in climate change mitigation negotiations. calculated that taking historical emissions into account. For a number of years. for example.

In effect. the rich and powerful will find a way to rewrite history to claim they were the ones that saved the planet). So far however. rather than continue down the path of unequal development. while they are all for negotiating a follow on treaty that brings more pressure to developing countries to agree to emissions targets. and capacity building. the more there will be delay the more the poor nations will have to save the Earth with their sacrifices (and if it works. Climate Change Flexibility Mechanisms . Read “Climate Justice and Equity” to learn more. such as through the promised-but-barely-delivered technology transfer. industrialized nations can help pay off their carbon debt by truly helping emerging countries develop along a cleaner path. These issues are explored in more depth here. rich nations have done very little within the Kyoto protocol to reduce emissions by any meaningful amount. as history shows. finance.However.

these have been highly controversial as they were mainly included on strong US insistence and to keep the US in the treaty (even though the US eventually pulled out). news publishers are taking a hard look at efficiencies that can be implemented across their value chains. IT organizations' increased attention to green IT has resulted from a number of factors. SFN's Going Green reported. such as more aggressive recycling schemes. . Some of the mechanisms face criticism for not actually leading to a reduction in emissions. reducing carbon dioxide emissions. lowering electricity usage and better ways of handling e-waste. and increased legislation. newspapers are recognizing the value and promise for the future that is created by implementing a green strategy.-based market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry. including: Rising energy costs.Last updated Sunday. Summary: "Green IT" refers to the idea that IT organizations can and should implement practices that are environmentally friendly. consumers and governments. Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanism. 2009. October 04. For their part. increased publicity regarding global warming. partnered with the North American Publishing Company in January 2008 to create a new quarterly tracking programme called "Emerging Strategies in Production Print. Flexibility mechanisms were defined in the Kyoto Protocol as different ways to achieve emissions reduction as part of the effort to address climate change issues. Around the world. However. The move to be more environmentally friendly is happening across businesses. This brief examines the drivers of green IT initiatives and provides case examples of how companies have made IT more environmentally friendly. a U.S." The project is aimed at polling print service providers on the hottest industry topics. for example. These fall into the following categories: Emissions Trading. InfoTrends.

according to the report. although there are costs associated with adopting more eco-friendly policies. Going Green. with expected legislation being rated as less of a factor.For their inaugural survey. with customer demand driving green policy adoption in commercial printing more than in-plant companies. and how much was just talk. the groups chose the topic of green printing and sustainability to find out how the print industry was adapting to the rapid trends involving green and sustainable initiatives. The survey explored print-for-pay (commercial) businesses and in-plant trends. because it is already part of daily policy. released . according to the InfoTrends and NAPCO study. while almost a third of those with a green policy in place had also completed one or more certification programmes. making expected legislation less of a factor. This is because many providers routinely must be in line with local and national regulations in their businesses. Meanwhile. "Emerging Strategies: Green Printing and Sustainability. Meanwhile." The two primary reasons for adopting green policies are social responsibility and customer demand. larger companies (those with 500 or more employees) had a higher adoption rate of green policy implementation. and found that more than half of the 768 (283 from in-plants and 485 from commercial print) providers surveyed had implemented a green policy. most companies were supportive of these initiatives. Marketing and public relations also have an impact on implementing green policies.