climate change

Sustainable Development, the Wave of the Future

blog 22: blog 22.2

Sustainable business and sustainable development are recent terms and systems which  grew out of a green 21st century motto. So what does business and economic development look like when they are guided by the kinds of higher economic and ethical criteria like: environmental justice, duty to future generations, as well as aesthetic and ecological criteria. Therefore, we need to use people for profit but also for our planet; using each to help develop sustainability. This means providing socially environmentally sustainable/beneficial goods and services, while still being able to make money.

There are some great green initiatives out there, and some modern practices include using recycled materials, using less controversial (harmful substances), and using more alternative resources. One Californian company goes in and takes apart buildings and reuses the parts by selling them to poorer areas of the state. Others use recycled materials, building LEED certified buildings, encouraging conservation, reducing the amount of packaging a product uses.

Unfortuantely, today’s stigma of being environmentally friendly portrays an ignorance instilled in the modern, global citizen. Many of these people seem to equate being environmentally, and socially conscionable with being unprofitable. However, using renewable engergies and manufacturing processes, bio-mimcry for example, allows the localization of  markets to continuously improve products and services. These products and services have already been shown to be profitable. People do not realize how profitable these solutions are for us, and our world. Developing sustainably for the future should be logical conclusion of all sustainable business practices. This idea has been around since the start of the environmentalism movement, circa 1960s.

Sustainable development, including green engineering and architecture, uses local knowledge such as indigenous practices and services. Using these practices, architects and engineers alike have developed new techniques for the built environment; buildings blog 22.3are now taking cues from nature, and mimicing their structures and patterns to help strengthen the structures, lowering their impact on the environment. However, there are some downsides to be considered, one being an ignorant mindset embraced by millions subsiding in developed nations.

Developed nations have enveloped this idea of sustainable design and business, whereas developing, and under-developed nations, have not been quick to embrace this trend. Most of these “other” nations have dealt with famines, droughts, and other environmental problems instead. These problems have caused great stress amongst the high leaders of these unfortunate nations, great stifes, like the ones mentioned earlier, were once viewed as environmental but now are recognized to be exacerbated by socio-political strife and climate change. Climate change and resource allocation has directly affected these strifes, impeding further development; this creates a self perpetuating cycle.

This all leads one to question, what are the ethical considerations we should be providing the world? If we live comfortably does that mean we should care about how others are living, or help them develop sustainably? Do we really need to have any moral obligations towards nations which we have directly harmed through climate change? The world’s sustainable development relies on all of us to help each other out, and by helping the world’s companies become greener and developing new technologies together we can create a global economy without further destroying, and perhaps fixing most environmental issues. We need moral leadership. We need to be united, as one.

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Categories: climate change, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Policy, New York City, Organic Farming, policy issues, Poorer nations, Priorities, Retail, Sustainability, Urban agriculture | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How many Humans Does it Take to Exploit the Earth?

blog 17:

blog 17.1

The Earth is filling up with people, their things, and their consumption related byproducts. Around 10,000 years the human population was made up of about five million individuals. It would not be until 1850 for the world’s population to reach over one billion individuals. Adjusting to this population explosion, mother Earth’s resources have been utilized to the extreme, taking a hit in its overall reserves. This begs the question: how much resources does the Earth have in store for us? Will its reserves be able to sustain an overall population north of seven billion individuals?

In 1798, Thomas Malthus published an essay on the Principles of Population. Malthus predicted that human population would start to grow exponentially and the production of food would not be able to keep up with demand. His prediction came true. Natural resources, such as: oil, timber, metals, minerals, and water, have been depleted. Worse, they are continuing to disappear, a time blog 17.3when our population really needs it — I mean it does not help that our population keeps growing, especially in developing nations. Perhaps the worst part was the number of people in poverty has reached over a billion individuals. These individuals are starving, or becoming extremely malnourished, just because not enough food is being produced where it is needed most. What can we do?

Differing philosophers have suggested alternative theories to combat this situation, one being Garrett Hardin. He suggests this concept of the “lifeboat.” It is a theory that states each nation has a carrying capacity based on its endowed resource and ingenuity. When a nation uses up all its resources it is not up to the other nations to help them out. Whereas utilitarian theorists often are criticized because they would help only those in need, but not necessarily closest to them first. Instead, they would help the people who are the most beneficial to the population as a whole. Our world has a carrying capacity, our resources are running out… maybe it is time we limit resource use and limit our population.

Population is an uncontrollable force, ever since technology has advanced population have been growing at an unfathomable rate. Humans need food, that is a thing, but the amount of food necessary to feed the entire planet is incredible. Just thinking about how much chemicals are needed or how much carbon dioxide is produced just sustain this world population, it is crazy. However, is it fair for us to misuse this planet, to over populate it while other species continue to dwindle in numbers?

Our world was designed from the beginning to withstand a certain number of each creature, but when that number exceeds its limit things will go haywire. Resources will disappear, and land will disappear for all, including species which have maintained their populations and their use of resources. Then, if I am to be bold, humans do not deserve ownership of the Earth and her resources. Maybe, just maybe, animals deserve a larger chunk of the world’s global resource change.

We need population control, take, for instance a law put into place similar to China’s one child policy, or simple family planning. I do not know if most will take this sitting down, but they will have to… I mean who is gonna sit there and let the government tell him or her how many children they can have. It will not be easy, at all. However, if we do not do anything about this exponential growth we will meet our demise. Yes, we do not know the official carrying capacity of the planet, let alone the United States, but what I do know is the amount of people living on this planet is not natural.

blog 17.2

Categories: climate change, Corporate, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Policy, human beings and the environment, New York City, policy issues, Poorer nations | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baxter the Destroyer

Blog 16:

William Baxter was an Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust division of the United States Department of Justice, getting recognition after settling a seven year old AT&T case. He was a trust breaker. Baxter was also a lawyer, writer and environmentalist. The latter gave Baxter background to write a “widely read and influential book on the law of economics of pollution control entitle People or Penguins: The Case for Optimal Pollution.” Intending this book for a law audience, Baxter’s book also contained a philosophically intricate stance on the topic of animal rights, and conservation

Baxter is what you call a speciesist, a person who believes in “the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership.” Using this term like all other environmentalists, Baxter believes we should re-prioritize and save our resources for future generations. However, during Baxter’s time there was a lot of backlash towards environmentalism, especially from President Ronald Reagan.

Reagan believed we needed to deregulate. Deregulating offices like the EPA and other policies that prevented companies from expanding and new citizens from being hired, similar today. By getting rid of said programs the country would cut its deficit while also killing the environment and its people, go good ol’ U.S. However, all of this will come back and bit everyone and their big white bottom because the world will turn to crude thanks to deregulation.

Yet, Baxter believes we should let the market decide in terms of what we should do with fixing the environment, and its problems. Letting the market tell us what to do and when to do it is perfect, because it allows us to put the pressure on when the time calls for it. This is a free market, capitalistic approach to environmental degradation. Bluntly, Baxter states that since nature cannot state its wants and needs to us, since it is amoral, we can use this to our advantage. We are all selfish and if animals cannot say anything then to hell with them. Baxter wants to create an efficient economic market as possible. That means his environmental policy is based solely on economics. Yes, our economical system can slightly support the environment mainly the ideas of externalities and ecosystem services; but the idea of creating environmental protect based solely on economics is crazy, I do not see it working/happening.

Us humans understand the world, and how it works, and economic long term effects. Thus, any non-humans will not be able to have any rights unless only to be protected if it serves the best interests of human beings. Usually, the best interests for humans are the best interests for nature, as well. For example Baxter mentions the penguins, DDT is harmful to penguins but humans rarely interact with penguins, thus penguins do not harm humans. However, it would be a greater economic social benefit for banning DDT to give us penguins, the money received is astronomical. We should never banish DDT just for the penguins on their own sake, however.

I guess focusing on the economic side of things would interesting but I feel there should be more to the equation than just economics. I mean I think people would like to save penguins because they could not stand to kill innocent creatures. However, we are selfish so keeping them around as they are affected by DDT means we put our own needs above the penguins, which is not that good. Another thing that bothers mean about Baxter is how he puts other non-important needs before important needs, like that seems logical, ok.

Then you have Hardin, ooh Hardin. Well, Hardin talk about overpopulation. His concept is called tragedy at the commons, that we use property as a right to use it as we want with certain guidelines. This is where the idea of private property versus public property comes about, thanks old chap. Hence, the commons were not privately owned but rather public forums. These public places are greatly affected by human activity and soon our world and its public places will not be able to withstand our population growth. So how do we lessen population growth? Well, simple, we limit reproduction rates or face the consequences.

This is nonsense to me because I do not see anyway anybody will let the government regulate the amount of children he or she can have. It is his/her body not the governments so he or she can do whatever he or she please, in this case most likely a she. But whatever the case, people are not owned, they are free and I do not see them willing to give up that freedom to help save the Earth. Maybe if we spruced up or education system they will understand more.

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Leopold the Helper

Blog: 15

Aldo Leopold  “was an American author, scientists, ecologist, forester and environmentalist. A professor at the University of Wisconsin, Leopold was best known
for his book A Sand County Almanac (1949). Leopold was the leader in the creation of the modern environmental ethics, as well as the movement for wilderness conservation. Speaking of conservation, Leopold critiques the economic approach of the conservationist traditions, he was a radical. Radically altering the way we perceived land was Leopold’s belief.

We are all a part of society, we are interdependent of each other; therefore, we need to stop and smell the roses, or the dying ones that is. Us Americans have a misconception of how our land works because we think if we earn it we keep it. We have destroyed our lands. Our world must follow in the balance of its natural system/cycle.

We must treat land correctly and ethically, but the question remains what are we in community with? Maybe we are all one, people, all orientations of people, plants and animals. We all must work together, ethically, to keep the land strong and chugging along. However, Leopold believes we should think Earth first and people second. Who knows I am in different on the subject. I personally believe that humans do not deserve the Earth. The Earth just gives and gives but we destroy in return, not something I would want.

Look at us humans, we are destroying the natural cycles, and the land pyramid. We make fish and other animals for our food. What happened to animals growing by themselves, naturally? Our world has gone down in the tubes Leopold would say because we no longer rely on natural systems of the land but on our own inclinations and wants.

This way of thought, destroying the land for its resources has been done for centuries but it could change if we incorporate conservation into our economic system. How, well that beats me but if it becomes instilled into our system the likelihood of people following will increase tenfold.

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Corporation Selfishness

Blog 14

I feel like all I talk about is human’s innate need to be selfish, and to think only of oneself. I mean human are selfish creatures, but there are humans who are not selfish but think of others as well. Meaning they care about other species besides humans, a rare quality. In the late 1960’s the grass movement began with the “teach in” program. This program helped educate the masses of environmental issues inflicted by industrial societies. Taking place on April, 22nd every year it would later go on to become earth day. Issues came up afterwards, including Love Canal and Three Mile Island, and henceforth the term environmentalism included many different philosophies. Meaning,

“a philosophy that identifies wild landscapes with wholeness and aesthetic beauty and asserts that such landscapes, along with their plant and animal species, possess an inherent value beyond any economic value.”

Calling for the legal protection of environments and species to prevent all from being absorbed into now commonplace, industrial society. Industrial societies are incompatible with natural systems and if us humans are going to progress further we must understand who to live best as members of plant and animal communities.

Industry is taking over, take for example Nestle Corporation. This corporation is trying to buy up aquifers and water sources in the north but some counties, cities and states are fighting back. Many townships, are now declaring:

“Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist, flourish and naturally evolve within the Town of Shapleigh. It further decreed that any town resident had “standing” to seek relief for damages caused to nature – permitting, for example, a lawsuit on behalf of a stream.”

Natural systems have every right to become protected, and if they cannot protect themselves we must protect them from greedy corporations. Heinous crimes such as buying up all the water/aquifers should be punishable against law because no one has the right to own all of that, just like the colonists and the indians of the early years. John Winthrop said that because they did not cultivate their land we had a natural right to secure their land for ourselves.

WE DO NOT HAVE THAT RIGHT. LISTEN HERE NESTLE.

Like the indians, the people of Maine, Roosevelt or early sports-hunters, we all need to protect our environment. Protecting it will benefit us as well as fellow species of the Earth, and corporation greed should end with laws that prevent their greediness from destroying the good green Earth.

I just wonder where all of this comes from, this greed I mean, religion? Religion always seems to cause issues. Some religions like christianity believe that nature is not here for any other reason but to serve man, so basically slavery – a looming sense of anthropocentrism appears. However, not all religions think this way, many eastern religions believe that we should be one with nature, our spirits that is. Buddhism, Zaoism, early Greco-Roman religions (had many Gods referring to different natural phenomenons) believed life coexisted with nature. However, the question still remained whether or not we should attach any morals to natural systems and species.

Environmentalism will keep moving forward thanks to its early founders, and heres hoping naysayers follow suit.

Categories: climate change, Corporate, Environmental Policy, Environmentalism, Life, Priorities, Retail, Sustainability | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ethics of the Environment

Blog: 11 & 12

Like I said earlier, there is a lot about ethics which can be seen in the environment, namely the lack of proper diffusion of climate change and its effects amongst population of the globe. It seems to be that poorer people receive the butt-end of the effects of climate change, and no one really cares, unfortunately. Maybe we should dive deeper into environmental ethics, its method and the structure of ethical reasoning.  By applying traditional ethical theories to the environment, and its problems, its policy issues, maybe we will better understand them.

First Aristotle’s practical syllogism, which is based upon two different premises. The first premise is this idea of general normative or ethics. Which leads to this idea of particular factual premise which includes  this idea of the natural and social science. Then you have the conclusion of whatever has been specified in the premise two. There are all sorts of definitions of  ethics, like how it is the basic goods essential to the well-being and happiness of a person or the idea of its basic societal “values.” Maybe one could refer to it as our moral duties and obligation as human beings who are indeed alive.

Thus, people will do the right thing when give the chance, but when one person preaches at them, like many environmentalists do, the likelihood of them doing the right thing is much slimmer. Slimming down their chances because a person is less likely to understand the ethical issues at hand, I know I do not like to be preached what to believe. This idea of ethical egoism comes to mind, because people are selfish and do not care about the environment and its problems unless it affects themselves somehow. We could change this perception through economics and showing people that one opinion is not better than another’s opinion but who knows how well that will work.

There is the three step method for analyzing ethical reasoning: first, figure out what the author or theory is saying. Within this step there are two steps, diagram the author’s or theory’s ethical or values reason explaining the various levels of reasoning within (breaking something down into its parts like a car, down into its parts, and think of it backwards). Finally, there are characteristics or standards which the theory in question thinks beings have to meet if we are to acknowledge his or her “moral standing.” We all have duties owed to a member of the moral community with moral standing and we must fulfill them; but also, there are indirect duties.Indirect duties result from the duties we owe to moral agents which do not affect you unless it is within a moral community.

Thus, should animals have moral rights/duties? The question is hard because some would say yes, while others would obviously say no. The idea of speciesism was created by critics to extend moral rights to species/animals, but can they be expended to animals? Personally, as an animal lover, I believe animals have souls and are fully capable of maintaining their duties; thus we should extend duties to animals. Yes, humans are egoists. Fulfilling their own dreams is much more important than caring for the moral of other humans, let alone animals.

I believe that ethical reasoning can be attached to animals, just like with humans. There are plenty of examples of animals sticking it out for humans, their best friends. Considering a dog in Japan sat by an owner’s grave for weeks after the Tsunami must mean something, or when a dog from the Tsunami, a recent orphan, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder… I am not out of my mind, animals feel, and have moral and we should respect them.

Here are some bullet points to go along with this debate:

(I.E. the arguments made)

1) Egoism:

  • psychological egoism:
    • human acts are motivated by self-interest
    • obj: reject if altruistic acts occur

2) ethical egoism:

  • human acts ought to maximize self-interest
  • obj: no value can be placed on anyone’s else’s well-being unless it is for the benefit of the self.

3) Social Darwinism:

  • survival of the fittest
  • obj: fitness is context relative
  • obj: even if “fitness” determines survival, it does not follow that we ought to act in any particular way .
    • all free market competition and survival of the fittest
    • no sense that people have a right to food/health care.. like Romney with the 47%
    • we only look after ourselves: meaning they take this stance on other living things
    • we have a natural tendency to feel for one and another
    • the idea of biophilia = an attraction to other human beings

4) divine command:

  • god’s commands determine whether an act is good or not.
  • obj: can humans determine what god commands
  • obj: is an act good because god commands it or does god command it because it is good?
  • rights theory:
    • humans have moral and legal rights which can entail certain duties
    • hobbes and locke; humans have rights in “state of nature”
    • obj: rights of non-human
    • obj: giving exceptions to rights leads to utilitarianists

5) utilitarianism:

  • only state that is good for its own sake is that of happiness/pleasure
  • one ought to act in a way that maximizes total good
  • obj: summing harms can lead to harm of individuals for greater good
  • obj: motivation of acts have no bearing on moral goodness
    • ethical level: consider motivations when considering something is good or not
    • 19th century economists were utilitarianists

6) natural law:

  • what is good is a function of the way things are
  • good comes from realization of natural tendencies
  • obj: what are natural tendencies and how can they be distinguished from social constructs
  • obj: consequences are unrelated to what is right?
    • ex:) birth control

7) Kant:

  • things that are used as morals so be able to applied universally.
    • think what if everyone else did this?
Categories: climate change, Egoism, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Policy, Environmentalism, ethics, Life, Priorities | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GMOS. Gross, Mechanical, Organisms.

Blog 10:

With the environment being turned on its head, thanks to climate change, the world seems to be trying to create new substances that fit in with a particular environment, even if, genetically, they do not. Genetics, how does that factor into the recent environmental issues? Well, they are called GMOS. They are Genetically Modified Organisms. Generating a lot of fuss, GMOS are restructured organisms which are altered to better fit particular environments where normally they would not be able to live.

GMOS can be quite beneficial. For one, they can help give countries in dire need of sustenance, food; but it can also destroy the biodiversity of an area. And that seems to be the theme of GMOs, their negatives outweigh their positives. All of this is a cause of industrial agriculture where everything is made to help grow crops and plants in areas they have never grown before. Fertilizers are a huge part of the problem. Yes, fertilizers help grow plants/crops and keep away plant killing/destroying insects but it destroys biodiversity, as in good insects and plant species. Therefore, all the foods we are eating… what are they? Are the foods we eat actually food or over fertilized, lab-grown experiments?

Stemming back, the problem seems to originate from increasing power of large corporations over farmers. Evolving corporations have learned to own their designs, patents. Patenting genetic modifications, GMOS, to make sure that no farmer can take their design and sell it, creating a monopoly. Take for example Monsanto, this corporation has created what they call “terminator seeds.” These seeds have helped create extreme dependences of farmers on their corporations. Corporations crave this, they want money. Meaning, farmers are changing their tactics and falling for these corporate tricks. Reiterating the idea, WHAT ARE WE EATING?

These hybrids, these transgenic crops, are changing the environment, for the worse. Worsening the environment by helping create bacterial strands which are found in soil. These strands help deplete the biodiversity within the area by affecting surrounding species of plants and insects. Looking at Monsanto’s potato hybrid, one may see the toxin it secretes into the soil which is lethal to the Colorado Potato Beetle, and this is Monsanto’s intellectual property.

All of this reminds me of Food inc. with the mentioning of all these GMOS and food patents. We are doing the job of natural selection instead of letting nature run its course. Best fitting nature is the job of natural selection but GMOS are replacing that by creating the best fit from the beginning, meaning new species may not even get a chance. We are choosing the best trait, we are choosing where it goes and we are choosing what is best fit for the overall ecology of the earth. Organisms no longer grow with food, biodiversity is shrinking and our world is worsening.

Should these factory farms exist? Should GMOS be allowed? Should one be able to patent food/crops? All these are excellent questions, but I do not feel great answering them until the world realizes what is going on. Documentaries can help but it will not work until the world sees it, and until then our world will lose a lot in terms of biodiversity.

 

Categories: climate change, Environmental Policy, Life, Organic Farming, Priorities, Sustainability | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Ooh, Climate Change…

Blog: 7

Continuing on this idea of climate change, however, I would like to focus more on the policy side of things. Ethically speaking, climate change normally affects the people of poorer nations which remain without the means to address their issues. Unfortunately, the world’s richer nation’s putt their back to nations such as those because those issues have yet to effect us. Nations around the world are experiencing a lack of drinking water, and other everyday basics, because their government lacks the means to do anything about it, whereas our country walks into other nations and bottles up their water, taking away their natural rights.

In The New York Times article “Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security,” warning the world what would happen due to warming the planet, thus needing programs to help those unfortunate nations that lack any means necessary to protect themselves, and their populations. In fact, it mentions how governments can fall because they lack any central programs to help out their people in times of need. Countries will fail, populations will move and eventually put stress on another part of the world. Yet, there are no stand out programs altering the course of climate change and its effects on smaller nations of the world. Instilling this idea of what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours. We are all innately selfish, not good.

“a growing number of policy makers say that the world’s rising temperatures, surging seas and melting glaciers are a direct threat to the national interest.”

Their is proof in the pudding, too bad there are people who are misunderstanding that cliché statement. With all this factual date emanating from daily evidence there is still people out there unconvinced about the prospect of climate change. Climate change is not happening, apparently. I just do not get it, you have the evidence and the proof… what else do people need? I mean just looking at the clean coal power ad makes me laugh, a lot. How can some people just be so ignorant about the facts. Chances are they are not even looking at the facts, especially of clean coal. Coal produces particulates, NOX and SOX amongst them, that are degrading and destroying our ozone, our forests, and our species. Why we should continue with coal? Ok, well maybe I am being a little to harsh. Yes, coal is abundant and we do need to become less reliant upon foreign fuel, but I do not think coal is the correct answer. Maybe for the short-term it is, but not for the long-term. Long term, we need to think about alternatives, renewables and new legislation and education for the masses about this potential solutions.

Potential solutions can definitely help our economy, especially now-a-days. Spending trillions of dollars on solutions will, in turn, create jobs and help stimulate the economy. Surging, the economy will reap the benefits due to the amount jobs that will be needed to maintain wind farms, solar farms, biofuel plant and etc.

We, high emitters need to change our ways, we need to stop putting poorer people in the way of the effects of climate change. It is cruel and wrong. We need to change, to become less selfish.

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