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Environmental Ethics Essay

2272 words - 10 pages

In this class, Environmental Ethics, we have looked at a number of issues affecting the environment which are caused by humanity in its relations with the planet and other life on it. We have conducted discussions and utilized readings which were assigned to us on various topics regarding the environment. Our main focus has revolved around the topic of climate change; the causes and possible solutions. However, we have discussed fewer solutions and more the problem of determining the ethics of our current situation. What has brought us here and what we are doing to affect the planet for future generations? It is a given that the planet IS getting warmer. According to data collected at the ...view middle of the document...

The report lays out a range of temperature rise estimates of between 1.8°C and 4°C taking place by the end of the 21st century. Well that's sort of a wide range. How accurate can it be? The truth is, there's no sure way to predict exactly how much increasing greenhouse emmisions will affect the surface temperature for the planet. It is clear, however, that continuing our rate of increase in emmisions as a global industrial market WILL lead to an increase in temperature, as we have seen in the past. There are those who argue against climate change and who refuse to put much weight on predictions and assumptions, even if they are backed by data. These sceptics hold steadfast to whatever observations they can grasp at, for instance the fact that global warming seemed to have hit a buffer leading up to the begining of the 21st century. One possible explanation of this phenomenon could be the effects of sulfate aerosols which have been introduced to our atmosphere in recent years. This affect was not anticipated and has led to the theory that perhaps sulfate aerosols could be utilized as a tool to help reduce global warming.
Here is where our ideas of morality come into play. Is it moral to use one pollutant to mitigate the effects of another, of which we are solely responsible for recklessly producing? When it boils down to it, humanity is just out of other options. Unfortunately, we refuse to see it that way. Many industrialized nations which are responsible for the majority of GHEs refuse to take responsibility for their role in climate change. In his book, The Perfect Moral Storm, Gardiner warns against choosing from the lesser of two evils stating that is still immoral, since you are choosing what is effectively a band-aid solution to a self-inflicted dillema instead of making the difficult, but moral decision to cease the destructive behavior that led you to this dillema.Gardiner argues that the problem of climate change is not simply a physical problem that can be solved temporarily by continuous technical and scientific band-aid solutions such as injected aerosols or artificial trees; which would attempt to correct the damage of excess Carbon dioxide in the air. This moral dillema has been the center of most of our in-class discussions and it is clear that many of the other students side with Gardiner in his view of these so-called 'marring evils' and their existence as a failure of moral action. It's just as bad, if not worse than continuing a destructive pattern of behaviour to take on one of equal destruction. So what option do we have if we desire to keep our morality intact? Clearly, it is up to us to modify our behaviours towards the environment before the effects are felt on our own species. It is evident that we are adaptable creatures and, in fact, it is a character of all living things to adapt to their environments. But are we heading towards a threshold that we will not be able to overcome? According to Fact sheet N°266...

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