Environmental problems stemming from the human population, pollution, conservation of resources, and preservation of species are complex and difficult to resolve. Increasingly, it is understood that one difficulty of resolving them is due to the fact that they are fundamentally problems of ethics that possess broad descriptions and characteristics (Alexander and Fairbridge 1999 294).
Thus, one sometimes hears the accusation that some self-proclaimed environmental ethicists are not really environmental ethicist at all since their speculations on the rights of future generations to a healthy environment represent more than extensions of inter-human ethics (Cooper & James 2005 3). Environmental ethics has more often focused on public benefits and public harms.
In such scenario, individual’s autonomy is quite often seen as a source of harms, and there has been a steadily increasing emphasis on the consequent need to limit individual’s autonomy (O’Neill 2002 4). Environmental ethics is a relatively new field of philosophical ethics concerned with describing the values carried by the non-human natural world or basically the natura flora and fauna itself, and prescribing an appropriate ethical response to ensure preservation or restoration of those ethical values (Light and Rolston, 2002 1).
In a strict sense, environmental ethics is concerned with three areas of inquiry concerning our relationship with the environment: (a) meta-ethics involves clarification method for answering morality queries; (b) normative ethics concerns the determination of what moral principles are valid and how we ought to act; and lastly, (c) empirical ethics focuses on what facts are necessary and relevant to inform our moral questions (Alexander and Fairbridge 1999 294).
This often urgent concern arises especially in view of threats to nature posed largely by humans. These threats are both to other humans and to non-humans/nature, placing in jeopardy the communities of life on Earth (Light and Rolston, 2002 1). More broadly speaking, environmental ethics seek a reunification of humans with nature. Consequently, they draw upon more fields of inquiry than merely philosophy (Alexander and Fairbridge 1999 294; Light and Rolston, 2002 1).
Environmental Ethics: Climatic Changes Remarkably, the current definition of environmental ethics excludes problems of environmental justice within the very nature itself, the generations both present and future, and problems of intergenerational fairness from the discipline of environmental ethics (Light and Katz 1996 119). Climatic changes are vastly increasing its phase, particularly global warming and the changes that it brings. Environmental policies to correct such scenario are very much unorganized and lesser attention is placed into.
Especially for those communities that do experience little part of the afflicting climatic change, the tendency is to act-out or save-face for play-safe mechanisms. The concept of environmental scope lies more on human-centered instead of climatic problems themselves; hence, the ethical scope produces lesser effect to correct the problems that occur in the environment. Climatic changes are vastly covering the conditions of our society but invisible to little acts are being made.
Some think that environmental ethical policies should be evaluated solely on the basis of how they affect humans. This entails a human-centered environmental ethics; although, for example, the classical utilitarians include animal suffering in their ethical calculation, a variant utilitarianism, which enjoins us to maximize the surplus of human happiness over human unhappiness depicting an actual human-centered approach (Singer 1991 285).
The primary problems of environmental ethics nowadays are the macroethical character that causes differentiation of definitions and broad statement, and the human-centered link that deviates from the deontological concepts (Warren 2000 74; Singer 1991 285; Alexander and Fairbridge 1999 294). In one example the ethical policy for preservation of endangered species, and protection of those animals near extinction are very much known already since the problems have been widely recognized ever since.
On the irony, the controversies about global warming and the climatic changes have been occurring even before the recognition of animal endangerments; however, little attention has been given to this problem of climatic change. The only time the condition in climatic changes has been recognized is during the time of its severe progression wherein the signs and symptoms of climatic changes have been vastly evident. The rationale of human being’s recognition of the environmental problem is only due to the point wherein human civilizations are effected by the problem.
Unfortunately, the ethical approach of mankind over these problems is not even problem-oriented, which is nature-oriented, but rather, to protect themselves from the natural devastations caused by the problems they have created. Summary and Conclusion Environmental ethics in the present generation concerns the benefit of human civilization instead of the benefit of environmental aspect. The duty of mankind is to conceal the intrinsic character of the environment instead of playing-safe from the moral requirements by conducting ethical policies that only concerns human-sake.
The focus on environmental approach should be the prime center of the ethics itself, and the benefit of man should be prioritized secondly. Let us view one example, the policy of green environment, which entails tree planting to counter logging system, is one example of a play-safe act. Practically speaking, logging benefits humans; however, with lesser tree sources do not justify the approval of environmental centers to continue the logging process granted that such program has been initiated.
Trees take time to grow; hence, it would be much better to stop the logging process and utilize other areas instead of nearly depleting the resource area. The ethical considerations involved in this practice needs to change to a more deontological concept. The present policies involved are no longer beneficial to the environment and humans attempt to address climatic problems, since the entire focus is not the problem itself but those that are afflicted. Environmental ethics should change towards the benefit of the environment itself and more on humanities duties over it.