7.1. (1,2,3,6) Environmental Value Systems (environmental ethics)


Welcome again today be consider topic
7 Environmental Value Systems as we look at 7.1.1 state what this meant by an environmental value system 7.1.2 Outline the range of
environmental philosophies with reference to O’Riordan 1981 7.1.3 Discuss how these philosophies influence the decision-making process with respect to environmental issues
covered in this course and 7.1.6 with a personal touch for you to justify your personal viewpoint on environmental
issues flashback to topic one systems and models…a system is an
assemblage parts and the relationship between these
parts with all the parts working together to
constitute an entity or a whole systems however are not confined to the natural sciences in the social sciences we can also have systems and in that sense we have the environmental value system this is a particular worldview or a set of paradigms that shapes the way an individual or group of people perceive and evaluate environmental
issues its influenced by culture, religion economic and the socio-political context this value system is very much a system like this one here in that it has inputs but the inputs in this
case are from areas like education cultural
influences religious doctrine the media and the output is the decision or the perspective adopted by the particular individual…..a model of
an environmental value system with the individual in the center representing the processing and the inputs coming from various sources to name just 3 we have got education
religion and society and the individual then processes all of
that information and the output is the perspective
taken by the individual the question is do people take one perspective with consistency or do our
perspectives change depending upon the environmental
issues at hand and can everybody’s perspective be put into one of these three groups these are
some of the questions that we are about to answer what happens when we die do we just decay and go up in flames and become a part of the carbon cycle should we grieve for the passing of a loved one..should we feel sad when people die in natural disasters are humans the only species capable of asking these questions..do all people ask these questions when you see a whale,a gorilla or a dolphin do you see an animal or do you see a handsome whale a bad gorilla or a smart dolphin while scientists have devoted much time to understanding other species and their behavior it is true to say that we know much more about our own species than any other what makes us different from the rest of nature is it because we are intelligent and made in the likeness of a divine supernatural entity or God is it because we have subdued our environment and manipulated in a way that no other species can is it because we have built modern cities and established law and order in them is it because we are civilized reflect for a moment on a colony of bees or ants compare the size of an anthill to a single ant do some ants commit crimes against other ants.. do ants manipulate their environment in their best interest do they travel by air and by sea and over land in a calculated and organized way do humans have the ability to destroy all life on Earth. humankind is undoubtedly a most powerful force on this 4.5 billion year old sphere known to us as Earth eminent environmental sociologist Timothy O’Riordan identifies three broad categories in a spectrum of environmental worldviews the ecocentric the anthropocentric and the technocentric. does any of this really matter assuming it does can we place individuals in specific categories and place labels on their environmental point of view if we were to assume that all life on Earth evolved from pre-existing life then himans are part of this process and so are ants over the course of millenia both species have developed complex societies and created massive monuments both have triumphed in the struggle for existence. if humans are highly intelligent and they drill for oil and gas and mine for diamonds and create weapons of mass destruction is this not the work of nature and the forces of evolution.. despite all of our conquests we are still at mother nature’s mercy all it takes is for a tiny insignificant entity like a virus to extinguish our existence and the rid the Earth of the burdens of mans bulky ecological footprint sets James Lovelock proposed the Gaia Hypothesis in the 1970’s and recently he suggested that the planets built in regulatory mechanism is being pushed to its limits and man is approaching the brink so what if the air is foul and there are floods and hurricanes and drought and famine who put us in charge of this world and why should we bother our actions in subduing nature were regulated by nature itself through natural selection and the idea that we have subdued the very force that drove the existence of our species is indicative of man’s egocentricity I submit that any ideas of humans as custodians or stewards of the Earth is utterly species centred and tantamount to a wealth man thinking he can rule the world our species has done well in the cosmic heartbeat that we have existed here in light of this success starts to another species to extinction many have become blind to the fact that all of our actions are still part of nature and when we protect a species that too is nature when we manipulate DNA and use DDT that also is nature that also is nature some people will tie themselves to trees and go on hunger strikes to save nature others will pour toxic waste into rivers yet all of this is part of nature I question the meaning of the word artificial plastics PCB’s and Dioxins are all part of nature and the activity of the ‘living organism’ called Earth Do you believe that man’s brief moment in time gives him control of the Earth.. I do not dispute that man’s actions are having impacts on the planet but if we see our ‘Mother Earth’ as a 4.5 billion year old being with a life expectancy of 10 billion years and for simplicity we squeezed that time into a 100 year lifetime then our current environmental crisis is tantamount to a heart murmur on a hot day in the life of a 45 year old what you just heard was my personal environmental perspective
obviously it was influenced by several sources by my education books that I read at school people who
lectured to me the things that I picked up from
documentaries in the media my influences from religion and from other
people in society and over my lifetime I have been reflecting on several these issues and formulating my own personal perspective on the environment when an
environmental issue confronts me I make a decision on how to act or what position to adopt based on this perspective O’Riordan 1981 proposed a spectrum of environmental worldviews with the ecocentric on one extreme and technocentric on the other extreme the midpoint on that spectrum is the anthropocentric and because its a spectrum there certain subdivisions along the way
as well the far eccentric being referred to as the deep ecologist and the far techno
centric being referred to as the cornucopian with environmental managers and soft ecologists as they are called occupying the mid-ground in this spectrum of worldviews cornucopians see the
world as bounty full of resources there for humans to exploit at the same
time it’s not that they conform to the
destruction of the environment but they have confidence that modern
technology can bring solutions to whatever environmental issues we face and that
the Earth is there for humans to utilize to
the maximum the termb cornucopia comes from this symbol which is a goats horn full with a great bounty of fruit showing that the Earth is full of resources there for humans to
exploit the problems that go along with this
exploitation the Cornucopians believe will be solved by human ingenuity anthropocentrism seeks a balance between development and environmental protection and the definition
of sustainable development put forth by the United Nations in the runs and report of 1987 epitomizes the anthropocentric perspective sustainable development
being development to meet the needs of the
present generation without compromising the ability future
generations to meet their needs finally on the opposite end of the spectrum is the deep ecologist the tree huggers as they’re
sometimes called people who believe in the preservation of the natural
environment not necessarily for the sake of future generations or for human beings to enjoy or to support humanity but for its own sake believing that species have their own rights to planet earth whay
should we understand environmental philosophies people do
have different views on the environment why should we bother to study these
views and understand them better one good answer to that question can be found at the scoping meeting for an
environmental impact assessment let’s take a quick
flashback to lesson 2.7.3 at the scoping
meeting for environmental impact assessment you might recall that several atakeholders come together to express
concerns about proposals to make developments so our railway if it does proceed would only happen after environmental impact assessment is
complete and for this assessment to be complete it is necessary to bring together the various stakeholders and for this participatory process to work efficiently it is necessary for the environmental manager to find common ground among the various points of view and for him to find this
common ground it is necessary to have some
appreciation for what constitutes an ecocentric with constitutes a technocentric and what constitutes an anthropocentric and to realize there is one common goal which is the preservation of the environment and even if an individual subscribes to the techno
centric perspective it’s important to realize that such an individual is not
necessarily anti-environment it’s just that they believe environmental protection would arise through human ingenuity and technology and if someone takes the
ecocentric perspective it does not mean that he would be against the spirit of compromise it’s important to understand each
perspective and to realize that there is common
ground regardless how different each perspective may seem with the
environment and its protection being something that no group opposes but the way that they believe that
protection should come is different the priorities are
different but there is common ground and this is a very good reason for understanding the various environmental points of view a few more
questions that illustrate this idea if you accept that human activity or anthropogenic causes have brought about global warming and sea level rise what solution do you
favor alternative energy that all human being
should live link the indigenous tribes of Amazonia or control of human population would you be willing to pay more for
clean energy like the energy supplied by these solar
panels do you believe that mankind should have
never use fossil fuels and you have no faith in technology do
you want the cheapest energy do you believe that we should protect
endangered species what are your reasons do you believe we should preserve nature
for the benefit of future generations do you believe that nature should be preserved f for its own sake just a few days ago according to this CNN article heavily
armed poachers killed 4) endangered forest elephants for their ivory in two national parks in
the Cameroon the dead elephants were found closely
clustered suggesting the use of modern weapons what environmental philosophy justifies poaching is it techno centric is it
ecocentric is it anthropocentric or maybe it’s none of the above a philosophy
grounded in the self an ego-centric is concerned solely with personal gain the perspective put forth by O’Riordan in the diagram diagram does not consider the selfish egocentric who destroys the environment what are your views all these issues raised in this lesson justify your position to a classmate raised in today’s lesson justify your
position to a class act

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