Environmental Issues

  • Created by: becca_102
  • Created on: 20-05-19 12:20

Common Definitions

- Sentient Being: Being able to feel pleasure and pain.

- Intrinsic Value: Value in themselves.

-Instrumental Value: Value for a particular purpose.

- Stewardship: God has given us the earth so he expects us to look after it.

- Conservation: How humans should interact with and understand the nature of the environment.

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- Sustainability can defined as th earth's capability to continue supporting life.

- 21st centurty heavily relies on fossil fules, trasportation energy and mass manufacture of consumer goods, and often will destory natural habitats.

- Wind and solar power, and the development of green spaces in urban environments.

- James Locke and Arne Naess would argue that not nearly enough has been done and that radical action needs to be taken to advert lasting daage to the earth

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Animal Welfare

- Acient Greece and the Christian church have little consideration to the welfare or protection of animals. Animals have often been judged to be the subordinates of human beings due to their inferior rational capaities.

- Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism have more consideration towards animals.

- The common principle of 'ahimsa' which roughly means "Do not harm" is extended to all living beings, vegan is a result of this.

- In the 21st century, animal welfare and protectiob is no longer considered a purely religious issue.

1) 1822: Legal protection for animals (UK) 

2) 1960: Legal penalties on pet owners who neglect their animals.

3) 1982: Zoo licensing act established stricter regulations. 

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Climate Change

- Climate Change is defined by the UK Met office as the 'large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns or average temperatures.

- In 2015, just under 200 countries signed the Paris Agreement about climate change, which was about keeping global temperature increases below 2.0 celcius.

- Wealthier countries will provide $100 billion for developing countries.

- Effects: Shrinking ice caps, rising sea levels, increases and decreses in amount of rain, and an increase in freak weather. 

- Example: Bangladesh, tens of thousands have died, from cyclones and flooding.

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Waste Management

- Each household in the UK produces around 592kg of waste. Around 330 million tonnes of waste are produced by the country as a whole. Recycling is avaliable to turn 39% of household waste into reuseable goods. 

- Incineration, involves burning waste materials, produces a whole host of harmful chemical by-products which can cause air polliution. More advanced incineration can make materials into heat and electricity and capable of flitering out pollutants and tightly regulated by the government.

- Landfills dispose waste which is unsustainable, there is a limit on the amount of space which can be used. They have the potential to contaminate the soil.

- The only sustainable solution for many environmental activists is a zero waste policy. Waste disposalmethods, such as incineration or the use of landfills should be employed as little as possible, or preferably not at all. 

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Christian Views

- The Christian approach is often characterised as giving instrumental rather than instinsic value world is only important because it impacts humans. 

- Dominion, humans were instated by God to rule over the Earth and use it's resources for their own purpose. Genesis 1:26 "So that they may rule over the fish" Genesis 1:28-29 "Fill the earth and subdue it"

- Many more inclined to emphasise the biblical concepty of stewardship that humans have a duty from God to protect and preserve the earth. Genesis 2:15 "Put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it"

- Bible outlines the value and beauty of creation; the world is a gift from God and a symbol of his divine love. Isaiah 55:12 "The mountains and hills will burst into song before you"

- The Fall recorded in Genesis 3 corrupted humankind through the creation of original sin , "cursed in the ground because of you" Restorting the world can help restore humankinds relationship with God.

- Some Christians think it is irrelevant because the end of time will arise before any changes occur.

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Shallow Ecology

- Instumental and anthropocentric view, it claims that conservation and protection of the environment should take place because it is in our best interest to do so. It costs us our health, money, safety, well being and aesthetic enjoyment.

- Highly pragmatic and a popular result. Does not rely on the purpose of God existing. The Thames Barrier was very expensive but saved millions of pounds, also it aims to appeal to countries self-interest.

- Utilitairian approach, more people will be happy.

- Does not aim to include any intrinsic value to the earth, humans would not act upon the issue if it does not affect them or it is impacts animals because they do not have moral value.

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Deep Ecology

- Against anthropocentrism. Deep ecology views the natural world as having intrinsic rather than instrumental value. 

- What has intrinsic value? Humans, all sentient beings (Peter Singer), minority include all natural beings including rocks and rivers (Paul Taylor).

- Aarne Naess came up with the term deep ecology which he contrasted with shallow ecology. Argued that the envronment has intrinsic value. Humans should in no way damage the environment, even if it meets their 'vital needs'. Humans should live a simpler life, they do not have any superiority over natural beings.

- Also Leopold, argued that land ethics, soil water, plants and animals which he considered to have moral value. "That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics".

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Gaia Hypothesis

- Developed by James Lovelocke, he argues that the Earth is a self-regulating system and, by itself, regulated the environment so that it is perfectly suited to life on earth. All organisms unconsciously help to regulate consitions of earth so they remain constant and stable.

Strengths:                                                                                                                                             1) Sees the environment as valuable in itself.                                                                                     2) Shows humans are dependent on the world, not the world dependent on us.                                3) Secular theory. Opposed evolution because it creates a role for Gaia in the development of organisms.                                                                                                                                           4) Rejects anthrpocentric because it suggests humans are not the most important species.

Weaknesses:                                                                                                                                     1) Lovelock was pessimistic about the ability of the planet to repond to climate change and self-regulate in the face of the damges being done.                                                                                  2) Singer argues it is wrong to attribute the idea of intrinsic value to a non-sentient being and meaningless to talk about such things having desires or consciousness.

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