ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS: ISSUES AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS “Humans are part of the environment and notconquerors of it.” -Aldo Leopold RESOURCECONSUMPTION PATTERN AND THE NEED FOR EQUITABLE UTILISATION Environmental ethics deals with issues that are related how we utilize anddistribute resources.
The unequal distribution of wealth and access to land andits resources is a serious concern .An equitable sharing of resources forms thebasis of sustainable development for urban, rural and wilderness dwellingcommunities.In 1985, Anil Agarwal publishedthe first report on the Statusof India’s Environment.He brought forth a set of 8 propositions which areof great relevance to the ethical issues that are related to environmentalconcerns. These include:1.
Environmental destruction is largely caused by theconsumption of the rich.2. The worst sufferers of environmental destruction are thepoor.3.
Even where nature is being ‘recreated’, as in afforestation,it is being transformed away from the needs of the poor and towards those ofthe rich.4. Even among the poor, the worst sufferers are the marginalizedcultures and occupations, and most of all, women.5. There cannot be proper economic and social developmentwithout a holistic understanding of society and nature.6. If we care for the poor, we cannot allow gross nature productto be destroyed any further. Conserving and recreating nature has become ourhighest priority.
7. Gross Nature Product will be enhanced only if we can arrestand reverse the growing alienation between the people and common propertyresources. In this we will have to learn a lot from our traditional cultures.8. It is totally inadequate to talk only of sustainable ruraldevelopment, as the World Conservation Strategy does. We cannot save the ruralenvironment or rural people dependent on it, unless we can bring aboutsustainable urban development. EQUITY-DISPARITYIN THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN COUNTRIES Environmental ethics areconcerned with, who owns resources and how they are distributed.
Say forexample the northern belt which includes countries like North-America, Europeetc. are developed and hence use or better waste the resources and energyderived from natural resources, hence overexploiting them. Whereas thecountries towards the south mostly comprise of developing countries, e.g.:regions of southern Asia ; these countries though have abundant resources butare financially weak and are exploited be the western developed countries whobuy their natural resources at cheap prices. This disparity should be dealtwith for equitable distribution of limited resources and prevention ofoverexploitation.
URBAN-RURALEQUITY ISSUESDue to expansion andurbanization for the so called development of the nation poses the requirementof land, and this demand is met by procuring the land at cheap rates from therural regions. Overlooking the fact that rural areas are the source of food,energy and other resources for the urban areas as well. As a result the gapbetween the rich urban community and the landless poor illiterate ruralcommunity widens, again resulting in unequitable distribution of resources. THENEED FOR GENDER EQUITYWomen fetch water, collect fruits, fuelwood,medicinal products etc. day in and day out, while the men work onlyintermittently in the fields .Unfortunately it is the men who play a decisive role in managing the villagecommons and its resources whereas it should be the local women who should bethe decision makers at the local level.
Moreover it has been observed that itis the women who are more intimately attached to the environment and appreciateits worth, and hence are instrumental in its conservation than men. E.g.
TheChipko Movement, women played a key role. PRESERVINGRESOURCES FOR FUTURE GENERATIONSThecurrent development trends and strategies have resulted in the overexploitationand misuse of resources. Our thoughtless actions and insatiable greedcan render our environment and planet ailing. We must realize thatwe cannot take our resources for granted, it is our duty to conserve andpreserve these resources for our future generations as well.
THERIGHTS OF ANIMALSExtinctionof a single species of plant or animal results ina dramatic imbalance in the ecosystem, as a number of other species dependenton it are also affected?directly or indirectly. Humans derive countless economicbenefits from nature. The ethical argument for conserving the environmentrelates to what we owe to millions of plant, animal and microbe species withwhom we share this planet. We need to realize that every species has anintrinsic value. THE ETHICAL BASIS OF ENVIRONMENTALEDUCATION AND AWARENESSTo encourage pro-environmental action and thought among ouryoung generation it becomes imperative that they are aware of theirenvironment, its current status, the various environmental issues and theirrole in curbing this menace. Moreover apart from spreading awareness it isessential to make them realize the value and importance of the piousness ofnature so that they appreciate the beauty which lies in its wilderness andimpalpable aesthetic delight which it offers. The Honorary Supreme Court of ourcountry has thus ordered that every young individual at school and collegelevel be exposed to a course on environment. THECONSERVATION OF ETHIC AND TRADITIONAL VALUE SYSTEMS OF INDIANaturehas always been very vibrant, philanthropic and resilient to a very largeextent.
We, as Indians, take pride in our strong cultural heritage. Religion protectsand nurtures nature. In Hinduism, worship of sun, wind, land, trees, plants,and water is prevalent, which is the very base of human survival. Likewise,respect and conservation of wildlife—garuda, lion, peacock, and snake—are partof our cultural ethos from time immemorial. Further, ancient texts written inSanskrit, Pali or other languages can provide significant details.
Forinstance, the scripture Vishnu Samhita in Sanskrit language contains somedirect instructions dealing with biodiversity conservation. *******************