End-of-term social for Geography tomorrow at 3:30 in lounge next door (followed by pub crawl); also scholarship applications available for students completing 2nd and 3rd years of their Geography programs GEOG 101: Days 21 and 22 The Big Issues: Ethics, Economics, and Policy Special guest on Tuesday, so please attend!
Housekeeping Items • About half of the class went on the field trip. Any shared reactions for those who couldn’t make it? • The final exam will be on Wednesday, April 23rd downstairs in Room 111 at 9 a.m. We will review for the exam next week. • We are running out of time, so we will have to skip Chapters 18 and 19, but you are liable for their contents, so please read them. Today I will start in on Chapters 21 & 22, though please read the chapters and the notes on your own. • The media analyses are due today; will get your assignments back at the exam. • The film on Guatemala on Tuesday night was quite good. Tonight at 7 in 356, Room 109, “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives” is showing on GMOs. • Any first year students with really high GPAs?
Environmental Ethics • Ethics is about how we relate to and treat other people or things. A major environmental thinker, Aldo Leopold, said humans have gradually enlarged the circle of the beings we feel we have an obligation to treat well. • Some hunting and gathering and some civilized cultures did not consider others not of their race or ethnicity to be worthy of decent treatment. Until 1863, slavery was legal on the North American continent and it still exists in some parts of the world. • During the Nazi years, millions of Jews, Roma, gays, Slavs, and the disabled were put to death for being “inferior.” • As the video on Tuesday showed, throughout Latin America even today, the Ladino elite looks down on the indigenous majority as not worthy of the same consideration and human rights as they expect for themselves, and there is a whole history of genocide and other atrocities against First Nations.
Environmental Ethics • Dehumanization is a part of what makes it easier for soldiers and their officers, to fight in wars. • During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers referred to the Vietnamese as “gooks,” “dinks” and “slopeheads” because it made it easier to kill them. • In World Wars I and II, Germans were referred to as “Huns,” “Krauts”, and “Gerries,” and the Japanese as “Japs.” • Soviet propaganda, in the closing months of the war, encouraged soldiers to brutalize German civilians and condoned the rape of at least half a million German women.
Environmental Ethics • For the longest time, women were considered inferior to men – and still are in many cultures, not even allowed to go outside on their own without a male escort. Until 1920 (and even later in Quebec), they were not allowed to vote (too ‘irrational’) and were discouraged from going to college (except maybe to meet a husband). • They were not allowed to own property or to get a bank loan, and most occupations were closed to them. Though we now have woman premiers and CEOs, women as a group earn far less than men and are greatly over-represented in service professions. They are also exploited sexually in a way that men rarely are. • There are many other forms of discrimination in our and other societies – based on ethnicity, class, religion, sexual orientation, political views, and much more. These all reflect a view that it’s OK to treat certain people a certain way.
Environmental Ethics • So what about the ‘environment,’ or what some cultures call ‘all my relations’? I want to break you into small groups to talk about the following questions and then report back your answers to the whole group: • What it the predominant Canadian ethic towards the environment? (and do different groups have different ethics?) • How does this manifest itself? • Do other cultures view things differently? • Will there be any changes in our environmental ethic as we move towards sustainability? YOUR IDEAS….
Environmental Policy • Policy, regardless of what it’s applied to, is comprised of a)what we’re trying to change and b)how we’re trying to change (and ‘best practices’ from elsewhere). As we discussed before, when we talked about social change, policy development is one of the strategies for influencing behaviour change in institutions and individuals/ households. • A concrete example is something I’ve been working on with my Work Opportunity student – campus sustainability. We did a study of three universities – VIU, UNBC, and Royal Roads – to see how they compared in making progress towards being more sustainable.
Environmental Policy • We also wanted to see what lessons could be learned about overcoming the obstacles and barriers that inevitably accompany trying to make change and what factors seem to facilitate progress. • Of the three, VIU has made the least progress. The others are definitely out in front. • We looked at a number of areas: energy, water, food, waste, curriculum, governance, and others. • Our basic assumption was that universities should model sustainability for their students and for the wider community.
Environmental Policy • Questions For Discussion: • What would likely be the greatest obstacles to change? • What would be some opportunities that the campus environment would provide (as well as possible external pressures)? • What would be the most important foci for making change? What would you like to see?
The Same Could Be Applied to Municipal Environmental Policy • Questions For Discussion: • What would likely be the greatest obstacles to change? • What would be some opportunities that the municipal environment would provide (as well as possible external pressures)? • What would be the most important foci for making change? What would you like to see?
Upon successfully completing this chapter, you will be able to • Characterize the influences of culture and world view on the choices people make • Outline the nature, evolution, and expansion of environmental ethics in Western cultures • Describe some basic precepts of economic theory and summarize their implications for the environment • Compare the concepts of economic growth, economic health, and sustainability • Explain the fundamentals of environmental economics, ecological economics, and natural accounting
Culture, world view, and the environment • Environmental issues often highlight trade-offs between conflicting economic benefits and social or ethical concerns • Both disciplines deal with what we value • Our values affect our environmental decisions and actions • In our culture, economic objectives usually trump ecological or social objectives. Any examples?
Culture and world view influence our perception of the environment • Our relationship with the environment depends on assessments of costs and benefits, some of which in turn can be influenced by denial, resistance, discounting, fear, and cognitive dissonance. • Culture and worldview also affects this relationship • Culture = knowledge, beliefs, values, and learned ways of life shared by a group of people • World view = a person’s or group’s beliefs about the meaning, purpose, operation, and essence of the world Culture and worldview affect our perception of the environment and environmental problems. Examples?
Many factors shape our world views and perception of the environment (examples?) • Religion • Communities • Political ideology • Economics • Individual interests • Vested interest = an individual with strong interests in the outcome of a decision that results in gain or loss for that individual
weighingtheissues Mining in Mecca…? Suppose a mining company discovered uranium near the Sacred Mosque at Mecca—or the site in Bethlehem believed to be the birthplace of Jesus or the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. • What do you think would happen if the company announced plans to develop a mine close to one of these sacred locations, assuring the public that environmental impacts would be minimal and that the mine would create jobs and stimulate economic growth? • Also: why, in contrast with Europe and other parts of the world, is beauty valued so little in relation to commercial values? Why are ecosystems valued so little? 21-17
There are many ways to understand the environment • Traditional or indigenous ecological knowledge = the intimate knowledge of a particular environment possessed and passed along by those who have inhabited an area for many generations • Medicinal properties of local plants • Migration habits of local animals • Geographic and microclimatic variations For more information, see The Earth’s Blanket by Nancy Turner.
Environmental Ethics 21-19
Environmental ethics • Ethics = the study of good and bad, right and wrong • Relativists = ethics varies with social context • Universalists = right and wrong remains the same across cultures and situations • What would be an example of each perspective? • Ethical standards = criteria that help differentiate right from wrong • The golden rule • Utilitarian principle = something right produces the most benefits for the most people
weighingtheissues The Atlantic seal hunt No environmental issue identified with Canada is more emotionally charged than the Atlantic seal hunt. Each year environmentalists and animal activists mobilize to try to stop the hunt, arguing that too many seals are killed and that the methods used are inhumane. The hunters and supporters counter that they are continuing a way of life that has been practiced by Aboriginal people for at least 4000 years (and also Newfoundlanders and others), that it is their right to practice their traditional ways, and that the hunt is vital for the economic well-being and survival of their communities. • What do you think? • Who should decide which of these sets of values—animal rights or Aboriginal self-determination—should take precedence in this case? 21-21
Environmental ethics pertains to humans and the environment • Environmental ethics = application of ethical standards to relationships between human and non-human entities Is is OK to destroy a forest to create jobs for people? Should we conserve resources for future generations? Is it OK for some communities to be exposed to excess pollution? Are humans justified in driving other species to extinction?
Environmental ethics pertains to humans and the environment (cont’d) • Sustainable development = we must meet our current needs without compromising the availability of natural resources or the quality of life for future generations. What’s missing? • In 2007 and 2008, a pipeline extension through Jasper National Park was started; it was approved in 1952 • Would it have been approved today?
We extend ethical consideration to non-human entities • Why have we expanded our ethical concerns? • Economic prosperity: more leisure time, less anxieties • Science: interconnection of all organisms • Non-western cultures often have broader ethical domains (e.g. First Nations, Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists, etc.) • Three perspectives in Western ethics • Anthropocentrism = only humans have rights • Biocentrism = certain living things also have value • Ecocentrism = whole ecological systems have value In the case of Linley Valley, one could argue that only humans count, and then only some humans.
Environmental ethics has ancient roots • People have questioned our relationship with the environment for centuries • Environment as sacred: • Aboriginal oral traditions • Jain Dharma (Compassion for all life) • Anthropocentric view or stewardship over nature? • Christianity, Judaism, and Islam • The Industrial Revolution intensified debate about our relationship with the environment, with the Romantic Revolution seeking to re-establish the value of nature. It was felt that contact with nature refreshed and ennobled people.
The Industrial Revolution inspired environmental philosophers • Transcendentalism = viewed nature as a direct manifestation of the divine • Ralph Waldo Emerson • Henry Thoreau • Walt Whitman • John Muir, and others • Transcendentalism = viewed nature as a direct manifestation of the divine • More recently, two countries in the Western hemisphere have extended legal rights to ecosystems and their components: Bolivia and Ecuador.
Conservation and preservation arose at the start of the twentieth century • John Muir (right, with President Roosevelt at Yosemite National Park) had an eco-centric viewpoint
Conservation and preservation arose at the start of the twentieth century (cont’d) • Preservation ethic = holds that we should protect the natural environment in a pristine, unaltered state • James Bernard Harkin was the first commissioner of Dominion Parks (eventually Parks Canada) • Conservation ethic = holds that humans should put natural resources to use but also that we have a responsibility to manage them wisely • Clifford Sifton was the first chairman of the Commission for the Conservation of Natural Resources
The land ethic and deep ecology enlarged the boundaries of the ethical community • Aldo Leopold – “The Land Ethic” in 1949 • humans should view themselves and “the land” as members of the same community • People are obligated to treat the land in an ethical manner based on mutual respect • Deep ecology = humans are inseparable from nature • Since all living things have equal value, they should be protected
Ecofeminism recognizes connections between the oppression of nature and women • Ecofeminism = the patriarchal structure of society is the root cause of both social and environmental problems • A world view traditionally associated with women (interrelationships and cooperation) is more compatible with nature than that associated with men (hierarchies and competition) • Ecofeminists note that women have also been traditionally associated with nature (e.g. Mother Nature, and the naming of hurricanes until relatively recently). God has, in the Abrahamic tradition, has always been seen as male.
Environmental justice seeks equitable access to resources and protection from environmental degradation • Environmental justice = based on the principle that all people have the right: • To live and work in a clean, healthy environment • To receive protection from the risks and impacts of environmental degradation • To be compensated for having suffered such impacts • To have equitable access to environmental resources • A good example is the campaign, led by Majora Carter, to create a “Sustainable South Bronx.”
Economics: Approaches and environmental implications • Conflict between ethical and economic motivations is a recurrent theme in environmental issues • Environmental protection works in opposition to economic progress • Arguments are made that environmental protection costs too much money, interferes with progress, and leads to job loss (short-term view) • Environmental protection can be good for the economy both in terms of creating jobs, preserving needed resources (long-term view). As the organization Earth First! used to say, “there are no jobs on a dead planet!”
Economics studies the allocation of scarce resources • Economics = the study of how people decide to use scarce resources to provide goods and services in the face of demand for them • Most environmental and economic problems are linked, including through the process you have studied with the LCAs – throughput: the transformation of raw materials into products, waste, and pollution. • Root “oikos” (household) gave rise to both ecology and economics
Several types of economies exist today • Economy = a social system that converts resources into • Goods: manufactured materials that are bought, and • Services: work done for others as a form of business • Subsistence economy = people get their daily needs directly from nature; they do not purchase or trade • Capitalist market economy = buyers and sellers interact to determine prices and production of goods and services • Centrally planned economy = the government determines how to allocate resources • Mixed economy = governments intervene to some extent
Environment and economy are intricately linked • Economies receive inputs from the environment, process them in complex ways • Open system = economies are open systems integrated with the larger environmental system of which they are part of • Closed system = earth is a closed system, the material inputs Earth can provide are finite and so is the waste- absorbing capacity biosphere biosphere economy “Over-full world” 21-36
Environment and economy are intricately linked (cont’d) • Ecosystem services = essential services support the life that makes economic activities possible • Soil formation • Pollination • Water purification • Nutrient cycling • Climate regulation • Waste treatment • These services have only recently become widely recognized, and still don’t have dollar values put on them.
Classical economics promoted the free market • Competition between people free to pursue their own economic self-interest will benefit society as a whole (Adam Smith, 1723-1790) • The market is guided by an “invisible hand” • This idea is a pillar of free-market thought today • It is also blamed for economic inequality • Critics think that market capitalism should be regulated by government where it conflicts with the public interest
Neoclassical economics considers price, supply, and demand(cont’d)
Cost-benefit analysis is a useful tool Marginal benefit and cost curves determine an “optimal” level of resource use or pollution mitigation • Cost-benefit analysis = the costs of a proposed action are compared to the benefits that result from the action • If benefits > costs: pursue the action • Not all costs and benefits can be identified or quantified
Aspects of neoclassical economics have profound implications for the environment • Assumptions of neoclassical economics: • Resources are infinite or substitutable • Costs and benefits are internal to the production and consumption process (not!) • Long-term effects are discounted – i.e. “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” • Growth is good and necessary!
Aspects of neoclassical economics have profound implications for the environment (cont’d) • Assumption: Resources are infinite • Economic models treat resources as substitutable and interchangeable • A replacement resource will be found • But, Earth’s resources are limited • Nonrenewable resources can be depleted • Renewable resources can also be depleted • Moreover, some ‘resources,’ such as biodiversity, clean air and water, and a stable climate cannot be substituted for.
Aspects of neoclassical economics have profound implications for the environment (cont’d) • Assumptions: Long-term effects should be discounted • A future event counts less than a present one • Discounting = short-term costs and benefits are more important than long-term costs and benefits • Policymakers ignore long term consequences of our actions • Economic growth is necessary to maintain employment and social order • Promoting economic growth creates opportunities for poor to become wealthier • Progress is measured by economic growth
Aspects of neoclassical economics have profound implications for the environment (cont’d) • Assumption: Costs and benefits are internal • Costs and benefits are experienced by the buyer and seller alone • Do not affect other members of the society or other species or ecosystems • Pricing ignores social, environmental or economic costs • Externalities = costs or benefits involving people other than the buyer or seller • External costs = cost borne by someone not involved in a transaction • Human health problems • Resource depletion • Hard to account for and eliminate
Is the growth paradigm good for us? ECOSPHERE ECONOMY More and bigger is better The dramatic rise in per-person consumption has severe environmental consequences Critics fear that economic growth will destroy the ecological system on which we all depend
Economists disagree on whether economic growth is sustainable • Are endless improvements in technology possible? • Ecological economists argue that civilizations do not overcome their environmental limitations in the long run • Could we continue this activity forever and be happy with the outcome? • Environmental economists argue that economies are unsustainable if population growth is not reduced and resource use is not made more efficient
Economists disagree on whether economic growth is sustainable (cont’d) • Steady-state economy = economies that do not grow and do not shrink but rather are stable and mirror natural ecological systems • Will not evolve on its own from a capitalist market system • Critics assume that an end to growth means an end to a rising quality of life; is this necessarily true? • Requires reforms