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No Moral Obligation To The Earth

1188 words - 5 pages

A relatively young philosophy and rapidly groving movement is environmentalism. It has roots in ethical philosophy. It presents a moral duty in having an obligation to the planet. However, its approach is misguided: While it is obviously useful to study and to be familiar with the the Earth we inhabit, presenting a moral obligation of protecting it is an incorrect approach. Many have been lead to accept this falsehood, guided by shaky logic and sentimental notions of no moral concern. We have no moral obligation to the Earth.

The Conceits of Humanity

We are a proud species - we are proud of our technology, our successes, our enlightenment, and our civilization. Occasionally we are ...view middle of the document...

Humans assume that the earth is at the center of the solar system. Eventually they learn that it is not. Humans assume that the Sun is at the center of our galaxy. Eventually they learn that it is not. Humans assume that their galaxy is at the center of the universe. Humans assume that there is something special about the Milky Way Galaxy. Eventually, they discover the same thing: the Milky Way is not the center of the universe, and it is one of billions of galaxies. Humans then assume that their solar system is the only one with planets. Again, they learn it is not.

I propose a new “demotion” to Sagan's list. Humanity assumes that it plays a role of great importance in the Earth's existence. The truth to eventually be discovered: they do not.

A Pragmatic and Utilitarian View

The costs of having a moral obligation to the Earth -- the planet itself -- are enormous. Attempting to combat issues purely related to the Earth is not justified in these levels of spending. The economic costs of instituting programs like the Kyoto Protocol are enormous, to the point of negatively affecting the economies of those involved. Humanity should not drive itself to destitution purely to save the planet. There are more important matters.

We should be looking at environment effects in a way that provides an analysis of cost - economic costs, human costs, and moral costs. If we can bring a significant portion of peoples out of poverty and destitution, the Earth need not be a primary concern. We should be looking at the end results of our actions. Are we helping people live better lives as a result of our actions?

Bjørn Lomberg, a Danish environmental writer, in his 2007 book Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming outlines how such reasonining might take place in the context of enrivonment ethics. In a compilation and analysis of numerous peer-reviewed studies on the effects of climate change and its impact on forestry, fisheries, water availability, human infrastructure, natural disasters, land erosion, pollution, and human migration, Lomberg places a bottom line on efforts we should take to mitigate it. An analysis of the Kyoto Protocol in this context reveals that if it were to be completely implemented by all of its signatories, the net benefits to the world over the next century would amount to around $2 trillion. However, the cost of implementing the agreement in its most efficient manner, hovers around $5...

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