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Sustainability: My Ecological Footprint Essay

After taking my Ecological Footprint quiz, it seems that to support the lifestyle I’m living, it takes 3.4 hectares of the Earth’s productive area and it requires the regenerative capacity of 1.9 planets each year. If everyone lived the same lifestyle as I do, it would take about 1.9 planets each year to sustain the human population – shocking, isn’t it? I try to make a effort to help the environment by purchasing organic food where possible, I don’t eat a lot of red meat products, I try to eat foods that are in season, I drive in a carpool to work every week to save on fuel consumption, I service my car regularly, keep my tyres properly inflated and drive the speed limit to reduce CO? emissions, I use energy saving appliances at my home and make minimal use of power equipment, and still my footprint calculates that I need 1.9 earths to sustain the human population. I expected this number to be much lower. This test reinforced my view on environmental protection.

I do not think that this quiz may be effective for immediate widespread change, but it can contribute to creating awareness that could lead to people being more considerate of their use of the available environmental resources. The quiz challenged my mode of thinking and what it means to be more environmental friendly. Recognition of our ecological footprint could change the world, and therefore I see it necessary to raise awareness to the crisis we find ourselves in. It will take collective action from every citizen from each country, all over the world. The assessment of my ecological footprint has opened my mind, and I therefore believe it is possible to open everyone else’s minds by raising awareness.

“It’s all in the outcome – Consequentialism”

Human demand already exceeds the long-term carrying capacity of the planet. The world is in a global ecological overshoot, because we turn resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources. To achieve an ecologically sustainable society will require a virtual revolution in the values and beliefs, assumptions, and behaviours that govern our relationships with each other and with nature. The world must acknowledge the full range of human behavioural possibilities and emphasize those
qualities most appropriate for mutual survival. It was discussed in the learning unit that one possible solution is that a wipe out is needed to bring the available footprint up to the current consumption, reducing the number of people on planet Earth, to sustain various consumption levels. By killing, or as discussed in assignment 3, “by the act of letting 20 000 children die every day is justified on the basis of the good of the whole species” would be wrong from my perspective. From a utilitarian perspective, there is no morally relevant distinction between killing and letting die, at least not when that death could be easily prevented by our actions. Utilitarianism is after all described as a tradition in which actions are judged as good or bad based on the aggregate good or bad which that act would lead to.

Rather we can try to achieve zero population growth – “a condition in which the human population, on average, neither increases nor decreases”. We can try to achieve this zero population growth by taking several possible approaches: •Delaying the age of first childbearing – this will slow the population growth. The marriage age could be raised to drop the percentage fertility required to achieve zero population growth. •Birth control – another way to lower the birth rate is breast feeding, which can delay the resuming of ovulation after child birth (breast feeding provides more protection against conception in developing countries than family-planning programs did). Family planning is still emphasized, however. Methods can include the birth-control pill. In Africa, only 18% of woman use them. •National programs to reduce birth rates – These programs can explain the problems arising from rapid population growth and to describe the ways that individuals will benefit from reduced population growth and can also provide information about birth-control methods and provide access to these methods. Another way to increase our available footprint can be to increase production technology to increase yield of food, thus not increase total land used or finding another planet.

“Fair’s Fair – Distributive Justice”

Many of us would think it will be wrong or unfair to delay the age of first childbearing, as mentioned above. But what exactly will the nature of the wrong be? We must be able to identify someone who has been harmed, in order to say that delaying the age of first childbearing is wrong or unfair. To delay conception might produce a better world, or produce a world with higher levels of overall well-being. By producing a small number of children which could have a higher quality of life rather than producing a large number of children whose lives are barely worth living. It might be utilitarian to think that morality requires acting for the impersonal aggregate good, but the world could be better where people decide to delay conception, rather to have a world where people reproduce a large number of children.

What would be fair, is for the current generation to preserve the opportunity to develop and sustain social institutions. What we owe to future generations is a level of each of the primary goods on a person’s list, sufficient to sustain the most basic of human needs and to secure enough beyond that minimum. We need to save a sufficient amount of our precious resources to guarantee enough economic and other resources for future generations. If I were to pull on the veil of ignorance, not knowing whether my children would have a high quality life, or a life that is barely worth living, would I accept the fact that we must preserve our resources and the economic value they have, to reap the benefits for my children? My personal answer is yes. If not, then there will be no resources left for future generations to live a high quality life.

“Greenies – Environmental Ethics”

”Granting a tree, a mountain and a bird intrinsic value is the first step towards an ecocentric world and a better planet.” Humans are the carriers of intrinsic value and, therefore, all other living things are there to sustain humanity’s existence. The ecological footprint resulted from human’s greediness and has lead to massive alterations in nature’s balance. We as humans have a responsibility to all biological life on Earth, because we are capable of thinking and perceiving Earth as a whole. We have a responsibility to the innate worth to all living things, regardless of their usefulness to humans. Our anthropocentric perception of the world is the reason for the environmental crisis we find ourselves in, ranging from global warming, water scarcity and the loss of biological diversity.

For example, people cut down trees to build houses or for making furniture – trees inborn value in this situation is ignored, therefore, devastating overall outcomes emerge. Deforestation contributes to global warming, less trees means less absorption of carbon dioxide, leading to more greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere. To make environmental decisions to satisfy both anthropocentrism and ecocentrism is difficult. Humans can still make decisions that would benefit themselves, but they must weigh up the consequences of their decisions and give first priority to nature. For example, choosing oil as an energy resource is not environmental friendly – recycling oil, on the other hand, can produce biodiesel to power automobiles. We can have the best of both, but we need to apply the recycling process to reduce our natural resource consumption.

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