Free «Environmental Ethical Issues» Essay Sample

The problem of environmental ethics and environmental values are the most arguable and problematic questions in modern ecology, economics and politics, because all the people on the Earth want to live in good environment and without having the risks to become ill because of it. These problems have started since the industrial revolution occurred throughout the world in the 19th century. The other problem of industry nowadays is waste, which may cause problems for human health and ecosystem as a whole. We know many places which may be called the worst and the most hazardous places on the planet, such as La Chureca in Nicaragua, Chernobyl in Ukraine etc. So the problem of environmental degradation (is increasing every day, but it is really hard to find solution.

Till the middle of the 20th century, the question of environmental ethics had not been a topical one. Since that period of tine, the human population, its consumption of resources, and its adverse impact on the environment are all growing exponentially, in other words, at compound interest. Anything growing in this way increases in any given time period by a fixed percentage of its size at the beginning of the period. When interest is compounded in a savings account, the interest becomes part of the balance and in turn earns more interest. As time goes on, the balance gets bigger and the additions in the form of interest get bigger in proportion (Ruggerio, 2008). If the percentage growth in two successive periods is the same, the absolute growth in the second period is larger. A long history of growth does not imply a long future. Limits do exist, and exponential growth is carrying mankind toward them at an accelerating rate. It is probably no accident that certain environmental problems have seemed to materialize so suddenly in the last two decades; more likely, the abruptness with which these problems have appeared is the usual manifestation of an exponential growth process approaching a threshold. Whether the ultimate limits on human population growth or impact on the Earth's ecological systems assert themselves through crop failures, collapse of ocean fisheries, disease, rising political tensions, or whatever, the time between the appearance of unmistakable symptoms and real disaster is likely to be but an instant in human history (Ruggerio, 2008).

Environmental degradation is not the sum of independent causes, it is the multiplicative product of interconnected ones. The relation can be written as a mathematical equation: total environmental damage equals population, times the level of material affluence per person, times the environmental damage done by the technology we use to supply each bit of affluence. These factors are related to each other and to the economic and social framework in which choices are made. A high rate of population growth may depress the rate of growth of affluence per person, for income that would provide for amenities or savings in a small family must be spent entirely on necessities in a larger family (Lomborg, 2001). Also, the sorts of technologies required to support a large affluent population may be more damaging per capita than those that supported a small poor one. This occurs, for instance, when aluminum and plastic are used to supplement wood, or when large increases in fertilizers and pesticides are needed to provide small increases in agricultural production -- an example of the law of diminishing returns. environmental and social problems cannot be ignored, and new technologies aggravate them as often as not. For example, schemes specifically intended to increase food production can engender ecological liabilities that decrease it in the long term. Thus, dams for irrigation may flood good land, decrease productivity in previously fertile delta regions, and lead to salt accumulation and waterlogging of the newly irrigated land. Indiscriminate use of pesticides wipes out the natural enemies of pests and encourages the development of resistant strains of the pests (McKee, 2003).

These complexities mean there are no simple, single-faceted ways to stop the escalation of environmental problems. Halting population growth must be done, but that alone would not be enough. Stabilizing or reducing the per capita consumption of resources in the United States is necessary, but not sufficient. Such a coordinated effort may be unlikely, but nothing less will do the job. Just as the causes of environmental degradation cannot be completely disentangled and tackled separately, neither can environmental problems and their causes be considered in isolation from the other grave difficulties that plague mankind: widespread poverty and the over-concentration of wealth, rapid consumption of the world's readily available supplies of mineral resources by the affluent nations, domestic and international tensions of racial, religious, and ideological origin (Environmental Ethics, 2008). Population growth in the poor countries eats up much of the gain from economic growth, and whatever per capita growth remains is unevenly distributed; so poverty persists. Now the point is that tons of trash, even non-hazardous, is being burned every day. Moreover, the places where it is burned are situated in towns and villages where many people live and work.  Why should people live near the landfills and suffer from odors, truck traffic, noise, contaminated air and fear of exposure to toxins? So these problems are to be considered by the government and Health Officer everywhere, where such problems occur (Ruggerio, 2008).

In sum, environmental ethics involves diverse problems and issues related to human activities and social values. The rapid conversion of resources into waste in the rich countries generates some of the world's most serious environmental problems at the same time that it further compromises the aspirations of the poor countries to a decent standard of living; the rich perhaps will be able to afford to use poorer quality ores after the cream has been skimmed from the world's supplies, but the poor will not. Attempts to reduce technology's impact on the environment are essential, but ultimately will be futile if population and affluence grow unchecked. Clearly, if there is to be any chance of success, simultaneous attacks must be mounted on all the components of the problem.


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