Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Environment, Ethics, Life, Nature, Human, Species, Ecology, Actions

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/09/30


Environmental ethics defines the fundamental principles that should govern the relationship between man and the natural environment. Sandler describes environmental ethics as the attempt to understand the human relationship with the environment’ (Sandler, 2010, p.252).The realization, that technology, industrialization, economic growth and population boom affected the environment, prompted the emergence of this field. The effects included pollution, extinction and speciation of plant and animals, degradation and climate change (Milman 2015).

Forms of ecological ethics

Libertarian extension
Marshall’s Libertarian extension is a principle rooted in civil liberties of members of a community. The advocates want to accord equal rights to all members of society. The fundamental part of this policy is that all humans and non-humans are members of the corporation and are thus deemed to have equal rights to the ecosystem. The proponents of this principle argue that humans, animals, and plants should be given ethical consideration by virtue of their existence (eco-humanism). It is further argued that the underlying worth of the environment should be looked at from the value the environment has by itself (Deep Ecology). These two schools of thought tend to advance the view that man should observe the rights of other species.

Ecologic extension

This principle attempts to underscore the underlying interdependence of all members of the ecosystem and the importance of such biodiversity. This principle draws a lot from science rather than philosophical and political reflections. The principle emphasizes that human existence is dependent on the presence of other species in a rather complicated web. The proponents argue that nature adjusts itself to ensure the continuation of an equilibrium that ensures evolution and survival of the species.


This principle places man at the center of the environment. It makes the environment there for humans at the expense of other species. This ethic makes man at the center and downplays the contribution other species to the environment. It makes human able to manipulate the environment to suit his interests. It allows use of science to propagate and secure life as opposed to natural existence (Woodford, 2014).

Conservation ethics

This principle looks at the environment from the perspective of its importance to man. The argument here is that the environment should be conserved because it is essential for survival of humans. It will, therefore, be seen that conservation will be essentially for human good. Conservational ethics will involve resource and wilderness conservation. Resource conservation is a school of thought advocating restraint in the careless exploitation of natural resources. The proponents are seeking for the legal framework that will ensure that a man uses the natural resources wisely. The thought aims at preventing exploitation of resources for profit for few at the expense of the collective benefit of humanity another biodiversity (Rodman, 242). The current generation ought to ensure that the existing species are available for this generation and the overlapping generations on the way.
Wilderness preservation is a principle that has been advanced to ensure proper use of the wilderness. The argument stems from both mysticism and superstition. It emanates from the religious belief that the areas are sacred. The movement behind this principle fights against reclamation of such areas through means such as irrigation. The preservationists allude the presence of a deity in nature. It draws from the responsibility placed on man by deity to preserve and conserve the environment.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2013 that there is 95% certainty that climate change is caused by human activity. Human activity should be regulated by ecological principles to avoid such occurrences. Roughly over 10 million species are alive today. Approximately 2 million have been named, and about 10% of them studied in detail (Seitz and Hite, 2012, p. 194). There is a high possibility that a number of species have been extinguished (by human activity) before they are known or studied. The other implication is that man has not fully exploited nature. Although evolution and extinction can occur naturally, man is affecting the pace and process. Man-initiated extinction is taking place at about 1000 times faster than before. We are said to exist in the 6th extinction event (Woodford 2014).
The implication here is that man is destroying the environment he lives in by polluting water, land, and the air. Emission of greenhouse gasses is at an all time high while use of fertilizers is 5-8 times greater. This practice put human life at risk of possible extinction too.
The study, “Coral Reefs on the Edge? Carbon Chemistry on Inshore Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef” ( http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0109092) shows the effects of man activity on eco-life after the experiment went wrong. The dissolving carbon dioxide in the ocean caused massive acidification and the formation of carbonates. Animals with shells were thus unable to form their carbonate shells. The acidification destroyed coral reefs and made fish unable to detect predators. Toppling of that order resulted in reactionary effects on other species as well. It, therefore, calls than man embrace conservation ethics to stop this trend (Spacey 2014).


The word ethics is derived from a Greek word “ethos” which means custom, how something is done. The meaning has evolved to mean “to what we ought to do as opposed to what we are doing”. The basis of ethics will emanate from Socrates’ fundamental question, how should one best live, or what should one best do? (Miliman, 2015)
Ethics, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as the moral standards governing or influencing conduct of a person or society. It also refers to the body of knowledge concerned with moral principles. Patrick Curry defines ethics as the question of how best one should live and act (Spacey, 2014, p. 1).

The value of ethics

Ethics is paramount for human life. It is the basis on which we make daily decisions. It provides a guide to what we ought to do helping us make right judgments and decisions. It helps us judge what is right and wrong.
Ethics creates order and define processes and procedures. It makes us avoid making random, irrational and aimless decisions and actions.
Ethics governs our resolve to set and achieve goals. It helps us to correctly and morally organize our objectives and plans of action in order to achieve our targets.
Presence of ethics contributes to promotion and development of a civilized society. They make those civilizations stable since they guide actions and thought of their members.


Drengson A. and Inoue Y. The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology. Retrieved from
Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Environmental Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/envi-eth/
Milman O. (2015). Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/15/rate-of-environmental-degradation-puts-life-on-earth-at-risk-say-scientists
Sandler, Ronald 2010. “Ethical Theory and the Problem of Inconsequentialism: Why Environmental Ethicists Should be Virtue Oriented Ethicists,” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vol. 23, nos. 1–2, pp. 167–83.
Spacey K. (2014) Julia Roberts plays Mother Earth and Harrison Ford stars as the Ocean as Hollywood A-list 'speaks out for nature'. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2014/oct/06/julia-roberts-plays-mother-earth-and-harrison-ford-stars-as-the-ocean-as-hollywood-a-list-speaks-out-for-nature
Woodford J. (2014) Great Barrier Reef: 'a massive chemistry experiment gone wrong' Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/10/great-barrier-reef-a-massive-chemistry-experiment-gone-wrong

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