Environmental Issues and Ethics
November 29, 2010
Since the beginning of time environmental changes have affected people, places, and things causing people to migrate or change their ways of living. Unfortunately, these effects can take decades or even centuries to become reality making actions and change difficult to be realized. Reviewing several of the case in point readings it became apparent that they all had unintended consequences of humankind’s activities that have led to specific environmental problems. This paper will review scientific or technological activities that are exacerbating or improving the existing situation, proper applications of the scientific methods that could have helped the problem, and address alternative solutions beyond the scientific method.
Today many concerned people are taking action to protect the values of those who may be affected by environmental changes in the future. Due to the uncertainty regarding these changes and how they will affect people living in different circumstances from people today it is difficult to know how present day actions will affect them. Projecting or forecasting the human consequences of global change in the future would require knowing the future state of the natural environment, social and economic organization, the values held by the members of future social groups, the proximate effects of global change on those values, and the responses that humans will have made in anticipation of global change or in response to ongoing global change.
Changes in society can incidentally affect human responses to global change directly and by becoming tomorrow's deliberate responses. For example, gasoline taxes, which were not initiated with the global environment as a consideration, could be increased to cut CO2 emissions. Studies of the incidental effects of such actions might inform decision makers about what could happen without deliberate intervention and about which present...