Ethics and the Environment

Topics: Environmentalism, Ethics, Environmental movement Pages: 20 (5704 words) Published: February 18, 2012

David, Ann Carmel
Dolor, Catherine Ann
Landayan, Maria Angelica
Neri, Rhea Maureen

The plight of the environment has never been as critical as it is today. Recent events such as the flooding in Australia, China, India, and the Philippines, extreme heat waves in the USA and in Europe, wild fires in California, extreme winters and blizzards, massive oil spills, has made us experience real, tangible consequences of mankind’s incessant and deliberate misuse of the Earth as a resource.

With whole countries declaring states of emergency, countless of lives lost, billions of dollars worth of property damaged, hundreds of thousands of people and animals displaced, and whole landscapes wiped out overnight, one cannot help but wonder: Did nature betray us? Or did we betray nature?

While most people will likely agree that the current environmental situation is bad, mankind still has yet to clearly define and collectively agree upon at least a basic set of standards for how humans ought to relate to their environment.

This paper studies environmental ethics. It includes a brief history on the rise of environmental ethics in the 1970s and a discussion on the two central themes that govern the study of environmental ethics. This paper also applies some ethical principles (as discussed in class) in the study of environmental ethics. A handful of case studies will be presented, where questions will be posed to the reader to (hopefully) facilitate thoughtful reflection on the realness of environmental issues. The group will be sharing our position in relation to the necessity of studying environmental ethics to us as future leaders and managers, as well as our take on the readiness of the Philippines to adapt an environmentally ethical mindset.

Attached as appendices to this paper are personal reflections from each of the group members.

Theorists of environmental ethics would consider the first ever Earth Day celebration in April 22, 1970, as the start of the modern-day environmental movement. While there have been many a great men who have written about and of this topic throughout history, environmental ethics only developed into a specific philosophical discipline in the 1970s (Cochrane, 2007, “Environmental Ethics”, Retrieved from:, on February 27, 2011 ).

A study of Environmental Ethics merits an examination of the social and political situation in the United States at the time of the birth of this idea, to hopefully lend an understanding as to why’s, how’s, and what’s that somehow lead people to feel the need to bring environmental issues such as air and water pollution, toxic sewage, extinction of wildlife, into the front and center.

A History of Environmental Ethics

The 1960s is touted by historians as the Hippie or Flower Child Culture, and the hotbed for social revolution. In the United States, this decade is marked by the assassination of JFK and the resulting presidency of Lyndon Johnson, the sharp turning away from the conservatism of the 1950s, the general observance of hippie culture, as well as the softening of the view on previous social taboos such as sexism and racism. The 1960s was also the epicenter for the growing disdain and disapproval of the Vietnam War.

The years leading up to the first Earth Day Movement was marked with the publication of thought-provoking ecologically-themed books and essays such as Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” (1962), which examined the usage of synthetic pesticides and the harm it does to the environment; Lynn White’s lecture-later-turned-essay on “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” (1967) where White suggests that the Industrial Revolution marked a key turning point in our “ecologic history,” as the general mentality during the Industrial Revolution was that of nature...
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