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SMD Introduction to Environmental Ethics

Part of a workshop on ecology, conducted in Gaden Jangtse, Mundgod and Sera Mey, Bylakuppe for Tibetan monks in the "Science meets Dharma" program. The text for the presentation is available and I am happy to share it on request.
by

Thomas Winzeler

on 29 August 2015

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Transcript of SMD Introduction to Environmental Ethics

SUMMARY
"we can't sit this one out!"
WHY ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS NOW?
Not to decide is to decide...
...for business as usual!
Our cleverness has overshot our wisdom.
photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
AN INTRODUCTION
ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
INFLUENCE THE PLANET
HUMAN ACTIVITIES
HOW DID IT COME SO FAR?
BACKGROUND
SOME THOUGHTS...
ENVIRONMENAL ETHICS
A GLOBAL PROBLEM
CLIMATE ETHICS
The relationship between meat consumption and per capita income in 2002, FAO 2006
ETHICS OF EATING
AGRICULTURAL ETHICS
A HOLISTIC APPROACH
THE ROLE OF ECOLOGY
content and inspiration credit:
Keith Warner OFM, with David DeCosse, Santa Clara University (http://www.scu.edu)
Ernest Partridge, University of California, Riverside (http://gadfly.igc.org)
Mind and Life Institute, particularly Clare Palmer, A&M University Texas, conference 2011 http://www.mindandlife.org/dialogues/past-conferences/ml23/
AGRICULTURE
MANUFACTURED
PRODUCTS
MINING
ENERGY INDUSTRY
TRANSPORT
WAR
AGE OF REASON
WHO?
WHAT HAS VALUE?
HOW?
empirical ethical
CLEANING PRODUCTS
PAPER
PESTICIDES
PHARMACEUTICALS
automobiles
fossil fuels
nuclear technology
nuclear energy
wealth
and poverty
gathering empirical (observable and measurable) data and determining
facts about nature
before...
NOW!
science does NOT indicate what humans SHOULD do
TECHNOLOGY:
NOT ONLY BENEFITS
neutral science
ETHICAL GAP!!
WHERE?
are the others?
I must care about them
All with moral status!
I may not do with them as I please
I have a moral obligation towards them
future generations
people in the distance
Absolute Value
Instrumental Value
Intrinsic Value
protected
how we DO live (facts)
how we SHOULD live
CO2 is disrupting our climate.
This has terrible consequences for people and the Earth.
People and the Earth have moral worth
Actions should be taken to reduce CO2
uncertainty
THE MORE EVIDENCE WE HAVE FOR A PREDICTION
THE MORE POWERFUL THE ETHICAL REASONING
Interdependence
LOCAL
GLOBAL
EXAMPLE
We need to...
understand how we are disrupting climate
make sacrifices
revolutionize energy-system
create a shared moral vision - it is OUR need to protect the environment!
BUT WE DON'T!
challenge to see the problems
human action??
CO2 as a pollutant??
we all emit it
it is invisible
'pollution' is not observable
what climate??
climate will change unevenly across the globe
First concerns: 20-30 years ago
MONEY RULES
not yet sufficient data
we want no change!
opposite point of view!
existence of data?
CRITICS!
DOUBT!!!
IPCC
GLOBAL SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY
INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE
THOUSANDS OF SCIENTIST AND REVIEWERS
130 COUNTRIES
2007: 4TH REPORT
6 YEARS OF WORK
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
5TH REPORT 2013/14
consensus 2007
humans ARE changing the climate
the consequences WILL be serious
extremes in temperature
extrems in water-cycles
(floods and droughts)
health issues
refugees
moving populations
malaria
diarrhea
malnutrition
Impacts don't harm the ones that benefited
it affects ALL OF US
particularly the POOR!
they

also

want

economic

development
Exodus to cities
"separateness" from farm and environment
how we eat
we are NOT separate
has an effect
about ½ Earth's land is used for agriculture
tremendous impact on nature...
poorest 2 bio are farming
...and the poor!
bad land = no food
artificial fertilizers
monocultures (only one crop is grown)
pesticides
genetically modified organisms
land is usually destroyed over time and new land is needed…
INDUSTRIAL
OR
ORGANIC
ANIMALS
"Livestock"
99% industrial
high-tech
feeding many peope
profitable
environment
health
18% of global warming is caused by the raising of animals for human consumption
Methane (CH4)
Transportation
Land degradation
10kg of vegetable protein for 1 kg of meat
1 acre: food for
120 billion land animals (120’000’000’000)
animals killed per year:
1.5 trillion sea animals (1’500’000’000’000)
50 x more greenhouse gas than potatoes/wheat
50 x more water than wheat
health issue:
60% of antibiotics in the USA to keep animals alive until they are killed
Reducing meat improves human health:
of 11% men and 16% women is death avoidable
cow dies with 6 months instead of 15 years
chicken lives on space of A4 size paper
Again: the poorest suffer!
grain for people instead animals: 1.4 billions people could be fed (simply by stoping to eat meat!)
Humans and Animals
why??
VALUE...
“The breeding sow (female pig) should be treated as a valuable piece of machinery whose function is to pump out baby pigs like a sausage machine.”
things
commodities
products
harvesting
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends"
BIOLOGY
ECOLOGY
19TH CENTURY: LIVING ORGANISMS SHARE CHARACTERISTICS
EVOLUTION = GOOD EXPLANATION FOR 2-100 MIO SPECIES
SPECIES = BASIC UNIT
STUDY IN LABORATORY
PRECISE RESEARCH
CAUSE AND EFFECT
IGNORING THE BROADER AND COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT
LOOKS AT BIG PICTURE
ORGANISMS AND THEIR INTERACTIONS
NOT SO PRECISE BUT LOOKING AT THE WHOLE
INTERDEPENDENCE OF ALL LIVE
CONSERVATION BIOLOGY: ETHICAL ORIENTATION
REDUCTIONISM
THE ECOSYSTEM
HOLISM
DEEP ECOLOGY AND RELIGION
Humans are a PART of the earth, should live in RELATIONSHIP to the Earth and have NO MORE RIGHTS than other forms of life…
Buddhism:
Interdependence
and
non-violence
towards all beings and the environment
Traditionally most religions: concern for life and environment
Moral significance of other creatures
but often responsibility to other humans is bigger
Earth has religious value
and humans are obliged to care for its creatures
Greed and destructiveness are condemned
Found in historical teachings
Why care about nature "for itself" when only people matter?
Should trees have rights?
Will future generations "miss" what we have "taken from them"?
Can we „own land“ and does this make moral sense?
Are human beings psychologically capable of caring for nature and for future generations?
If they have this capacity, are we morally obligated to nurture it?
QUESTIONS!
Does an individual of an endangered species have more rights then another? or maybe less?
1 meat-eater
or 20 vegans!
renounciation and protection are agreed with
but not necessarily in actual religious practices.
The greening of religion
recovering the traditional views
HH the Dalai Lama
Mind and Life 2011: Ecology
Religion has a great potential to start changes in society!
The fate of our natural environment, our brother species and future generations lies in our hands
THANK YOU!
Full transcript