An entirely different perspective is brought into focus as we consider some of the environmental hazards that accompany industrial growth and intensive agriculture. Some of the most dangerous hazards in this world are the outcome of purely voluntary behavior --- in particular, smoking tobacco and engaging in risky sexual activity. We will look at four classes of environmental hazards: Cultural, Biological, Physical and Chemical (Wright & Boorse, 2011).
Cultural Hazards. Many of the factors that contribute to morality and disability are a matter of choice or can at least be influenced by choice. People engage in risky behavior and subject themselves to hazards. Thus, they may smoke cigarettes, eat too much, drive too fast, use addictive and harmful drugs, consume alcoholic beverages, sunbathe, or choose hazardous occupations. People generally subject themselves to these hazards because they derive some pleasure or other benefit from them. Factors such as living in inner cities, engaging in criminal activities, and so on are cultural sources of morality too. 40% of all deaths in the United States can be traced to cultural hazards, and in most cases, deaths from cultural hazards are preventable (if people refrain from their risky behaviors). (Wright & Boorse, 2011).
Biological Hazards. Human history can be told from the battle with pathogenic bacteria and viruses. It is a story of epidemics such as the black plague and typhus, which ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages, killing millions in every city, and of smallpox, which swept through the New World. The battle is not over, however, and never will be. Pathogenic bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozans, and worms continue to plague every society and indeed every person. They are inevitable components of our environment. Many are there regardless of our human presence, and others are uniquely human pathogens whose access to new susceptible hosts is... [continues]
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