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Environmental Worldviews, Ethics and Sustainability

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  1. Environmental Worldviews, Ethics and Sustainability Asim Zia Introduction to Environmental Issues EnvS 001, Spring 2007 Department of Environmental Studies San Jose State University

  2. Chapter 26 Overview Questions • What philosophies and religions can help us decide how to value life and distinguish between right and wrong environmental behavior? • What human-centered environmental worldviews guide most industrial societies? • What are some life-centered and earth-centered environmental worldviews? • How can we live more sustainably?

  3. Core Case Study: Biosphere 2 - A Lesson in Humility • Biosphere 2, was designed to be self sustaining life-supporting system for eight people sealed in the facility in 1991. The experiment failed because of a breakdown in its nutrient cycling systems. Figure 26-1

  4. ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS AND VALUES • Your environmental worldview encompasses: • How you think the world works. • What you believe your environmental role in the world should be. • What you believe is right and wrong environmental behavior.

  5. ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS AND VALUES • Environmental worldviews lie on a continuum. Figure 26-2

  6. HUMAN-CENTERED AND LIFE-CENTERED ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS • The major difference among environmental worldviews is the emphasis they put on the role of humans dealing with environmental problems. • Some view that humans are the planet’s most important species and should become managers or stewards of the earth.

  7. Environmental Worldviews Planetary Management • We are apart from the rest of nature and can manage nature to meet our increasing needs and wants. • Because of our ingenuity and technology we will not run out of resources. • The potential for economic growth is essentially unlimited. • Our success depends on how well we manage the earth's life support systems mostly for our benefit. Stewardship • We have an ethical responsibility to be caring managers, or stewards, of the earth. • We will probably not run out of resources, but they should not be wasted. • We should encourage environmentally beneficial forms of economic growth & discourage environmentally harmful forms. • Our success depends on how well we manage the earth's life support systems for our benefit and for the rest of nature. Environmental Wisdom • We are a part of and totally dependent on nature and nature exists for all species. • Resources are limited, should not be wasted, and are not all for us. • We should encourage earth sustaining forms of economic growth & discourage earth degrading forms. • Our success depends on learning how nature sustains itself and integrating such lessons from nature into the ways we think and act. Fig. 26-3, p. 617

  8. Environmental Worldviews: An Overview • Some analysts doubt that we can effectively manage the earth because we do not have enough knowledge to do so. • Life-centered and earth-centeredenvironmental worldviews believe that we have an ethical responsibility to prevent degradation of the earth’s ecosystems, biodiversity, and biosphere.

  9. Environmental Worldviews • Deep ecology calls for us to think more deeply about our obligations toward both human and nonhuman life. • Ecofeminist environmental worldview believes that women should be given the same rights that men have in our joint quest to develop more environmentally sustainable and socially just societies.

  10. Shifts in Environmental Values and Worldviews: Some Encouraging Trends • Global and national polls reveal a shift towards the stewardship, environmental wisdom, and deep ecology worldviews.

  11. How Would You Vote? • Which one of the following comes closest to your environmental worldview: • a. Planetary management • b. Stewartship • c. Environmental wisdom • d. Deep ecology • e. Ecofeminist • f. Other

  12. LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY • Environmental literate citizens and leaders are needed to build more environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. • In addition to formal learning, we need to learn by experiencing nature directly.

  13. LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY • Some affluent people are voluntarily adopting lifestyles in which they enjoy life more by consuming less. Figure 26-7

  14. Living More Lightly on the Earth: The Sustainable Dozen • Agriculture • Reduce you meat consumption. • Buy locally grown and produced food. • Buy more organic food and grow your own. • Don’t use pesticides. • Transportation • Drive an energy-efficient vehicle. • Walk, bike, carpool, or take mass transit. • Work at home or live near work.

  15. Living More Lightly on the Earth: The Sustainable Dozen • Home Energy Use • Caulk leaks, add insulation, use energy efficient appliances. • Try to use solar, wind, flowing water, biomass for home energy. • Water • Use water-saving showers and toilets, use drip irrigation, landscape yard with natural plants that do not require excess water.

  16. Living More Lightly on the Earth: The Sustainable Dozen • Resource Consumption • Reduce your consumption and waste of stuff by at least 10%: Refuse and Reuse. Figure 26-5

  17. LIVING MORE SUSTAINABLY • The Earth Charter calls for us to respect and care for life and biodiversity and to build more sustainable, just, democratic, and peaceful societies for present and future generations. • We need hope, a positive vision of the future, and commitment to making the world a better place to live.