Chapter 26 Environmental Worldviews, Ethics, and Sustainability
Chapter Overview Questions • What philosophies and religions can help us decide how to value life and distinguish between right and wrong environmental behavior? • What human-centered environmental worldviews guide most industrial societies? • What are some life-centered and earth-centered environmental worldviews? • How can we live more sustainably?
Updates Online The latest references for topics covered in this section can be found at the book companion website. Log in to the book’s e-resources page at www.thomsonedu.com to access InfoTrac articles. • InfoTrac: The ethical dilemma of genetically modified food. Valeria Jefferson. Journal of Environmental Health, July-August 2006 v69 i1 p33(2). • InfoTrac: Putting a Price Tag on the Planet. Lila Guterman. The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2006 v52 i31. • InfoTrac: THE GREEN MACHINE. Marc Gunther. Fortune, August 7, 2006 v154 i3 p42 . • Scientific American: Soccer Goes Green • The Earth Charter Initiative • Common Vision
Core Case Study: Biosphere 2 - A Lesson in Humility • Biosphere 2, was designed to be self sustaining life-supporting system for eight people sealed in the facility in 1991. The experiment failed because of a breakdown in its nutrient cycling systems. Figure 26-1
ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS AND VALUES • Your environmental worldview encompasses: • How you think the world works. • What you believe your environmental role in the world should be. • What you believe is right and wrong environmental behavior.
ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS AND VALUES • Environmental worldviews lie on a continuum. Figure 26-2
More holistic Biosphere- or Earth-centered More atomistic Ecosystem-centered Biocentric (life-centered) Anthropocentric (human-centered) Intrinsic values play bigger role Instrumental values play bigger role Planetary management Self-centered Stewardship Environmental wisdom Fig. 26-2, p. 616
HUMAN-CENTERED AND LIFE-CENTERED ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS • The major difference among environmental worldviews is the emphasis they put on the role of humans dealing with environmental problems. • Some view that humans are the planet’s most important species and should become managers or stewards of the earth.
Environmental Worldviews Planetary Management • We are apart from the rest of nature and can manage nature to meet our increasing needs and wants. • Because of our ingenuity and technology we will not run out of resources. • The potential for economic growth is essentially unlimited. • Our success depends on how well we manage the earth's life support systems mostly for our benefit. Stewardship • We have an ethical responsibility to be caring managers, or stewards, of the earth. • We will probably not run out of resources, but they should not be wasted. • We should encourage environmentally beneficial forms of economic growth & discourage environmentally harmful forms. • Our success depends on how well we manage the earth's life support systems for our benefit and for the rest of nature. Environmental Wisdom • We are a part of and totally dependent on nature and nature exists for all species. • Resources are limited, should not be wasted, and are not all for us. • We should encourage earth sustaining forms of economic growth & discourage earth degrading forms. • Our success depends on learning how nature sustains itself and integrating such lessons from nature into the ways we think and act. Fig. 26-3, p. 617
Environmental Worldviews: An Overview • Some analysts doubt that we can effectively manage the earth because we do not have enough knowledge to do so. • Life-centered and earth-centeredenvironmental worldviews believe that we have an ethical responsibility to prevent degradation of the earth’s ecosystems, biodiversity, and biosphere.
Environmental Worldviews • Deep ecology calls for us to think more deeply about our obligations toward both human and nonhuman life. • Ecofeminist environmental worldview believes that women should be given the same rights that men have in our joint quest to develop more environmentally sustainable and socially just societies.
Shifts in Environmental Values and Worldviews: Some Encouraging Trends • Global and national polls reveal a shift towards the stewardship, environmental wisdom, and deep ecology worldviews.
How Would You Vote? To conduct an instant in-class survey using a classroom response system, access “JoinIn Clicker Content” from the PowerLecture main menu for Living in the Environment. • Which one of the following comes closest to your environmental worldview: planetary management, stewardship, environmental wisdom, deep ecology, ecofeminist? • a. Planetary management • b. Stewartship • c. Environmental wisdom • d. Deep ecology • e. Ecofeminist • f. Other
Which Worldview Is More Likely to Prove Correct? • Using images of economic or ecological collapse can deter us from preventing or slowing environmental degradation.
How Would You Vote? To conduct an instant in-class survey using a classroom response system, access “JoinIn Clicker Content” from the PowerLecture main menu for Living in the Environment. • Do you believe there are physical and biological limits to human economic growth? • a. No. I have faith in human ingenuity and creativity. • b. Depends. Some (but not all) aspects of economic growth are limited. • c. Yes. Ecological economists are generally correct.
LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY • Environmental literate citizens and leaders are needed to build more environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. • In addition to formal learning, we need to learn by experiencing nature directly.
LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY • Some affluent people are voluntarily adopting lifestyles in which they enjoy life more by consuming less. Figure 26-7
Biosphere and Ecosystems Species and Cultures Individual Responsibility Help sustain the earth’s natural capital and biodiversity Avoid premature extinction of any species mostly by protecting and restoring its habitat Do not inflict unnecessary suffering or pain on any animal Do the least possible environmental harm when altering nature Avoid premature extinction of any human culture Use no more of the earth’s resources than you need Fig. 26-7, p. 623
Solutions Developing Environmentally Sustainable Societies Guidelines Strategies Learn from & copy nature Sustain biodiversity Eliminate poverty Do not degrade or deplete the earth's natural capital, and live off the natural income it provides Develop eco-economies Build sustainable communities Take no more than we need Do not use renewable resources faster than nature can replace them Do not reduce biodiversity Use sustainable agriculture Try not to harm life, air, water, soil Depend more on locally available renewable energy from the sun, wind, flowing water, and sustainable biomass Do not change the world's climate Emphasize pollution prevention and waste reduction Do not overshoot the earth's carrying capacity Do not waste matter and energy resources Help maintain the earth's capacity for self-repair Recycle, reuse, and compost 60–80% of matter resources Repair past ecological damage Maintain a human population size such that needs are met without threatening life support systems Leave the world in as good a shape as—or better than—we found it Emphasize ecological restoration Fig. 26-6, p. 622
LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY • We can help make the world a better place by not falling into mental traps that lead to denial and inaction and by keeping our empowering feelings of hope ahead of any immobilizing feeling of despair.
Living More Lightly on the Earth: The Sustainable Dozen • Agriculture • Reduce you meat consumption. • Buy locally grown and produced food. • Buy more organic food and grow your own. • Don’t use pesticides. • Transportation • Drive an energy-efficient vehicle. • Walk, bike, carpool, or take mass transit. • Work at home or live near work.
Living More Lightly on the Earth: The Sustainable Dozen • Home Energy Use • Caulk leaks, add insulation, use energy efficient appliances. • Try to use solar, wind, flowing water, biomass for home energy. • Water • Use water-saving showers and toilets, use drip irrigation, landscape yard with natural plants that do not require excess water.
Living More Lightly on the Earth: The Sustainable Dozen • Resource Consumption • Reduce your consumption and waste of stuff by at least 10%: Refuse and Reuse. Figure 26-5
LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY • The Earth Charter calls for us to respect and care for life and biodiversity and to build more sustainable, just, democratic, and peaceful societies for present and future generations. • We need hope, a positive vision of the future, and commitment to making the world a better place to live.