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Climate Change and Global Warming

From famous international celebrities and political figures to the laymen on the streets, there appears to be an overwhelming concern brewing among people with respect to various environmental issues, such as global warming. Global warming, which is primarily due to increases in so-called “greenhouse gases,” is causing alarm all over the world because it leads to the rise in global temperatures (Shah, 2007). The issue of global warming is ripe for ethical discussion because it is widely believed that it is caused by both natural and human activities (Shah, 2007; Union of Concerned Scientists, 2006).

Thus, the latter contributory cause, gives rise to ethical issues pertaining to a person’s duty and liability over damages done to the environment. Humans are the sources of a large bulk of the greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which is released or emitted through various human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2006). Thus, there arises the ethical issue of the proper attitude and action of man in order to prevent further damage to the environment.

Moreover, one would ask whether there really is a duty on the part of humans to care for the environment. As an individual, I am confronted by these general ethical issues, together with some which apply to me on a more personal level. Thus, as a member of the human population, I wonder whether I am responsible for the slow disintegration of our planet. In the affirmative, what could be my imperative duties in order to reverse, or at least minimize such problem?

On a more personal note, I wonder whether I have become a bad or irresponsible person when I have consciously or unconsciously pursued actions that may have been detrimental to the environment. John Stuart Mill’s ethical philosophy provides valuable advice on these conundrums. Mill was, together with philosopher Jeremy Bentham, one of the first philosophers to develop and pursue utilitarianism as an ethical theory (West). Utilitarianism judges the morality of human actions based on consequences.

It rests on what Mill called the “Greatest Happiness Principle (West),” which refers to utility as the foundations of morals. The application of the principle means that an action would be considered morally upright if it tends to promote the happiness of a greater number of people (West). Utilitarianism would thus answer my queries in such a way that would ensure the protection of the environment and of the planet, since this is the only solution that could offer the greatest happiness, not only to the greatest number of people, but to all people.

It is obvious that the destruction of the planet is literally the destruction of the human race; therefore, it behooves upon every member thereof to consciously do acts in the direction of the preservation of their home. From the foregoing discussion, it is obvious that Mill’s ancient theories are still very much applicable to the modern world, since it usefully provides a standard for determining the morality of one’s conduct.

References

Shah, A. (2007). Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction. Retrieved July 19, 2007, from http://www. globalissues. org/EnvIssues/GlobalWarming/Intro. asp Union of Concerned Scientists. (2006). Human Fingerprints. Retrieved July 19, 2007, from http://www. ucsusa. org/global_warming/science/Fingerprints. html West, H. R. Utilitarianism. Encyclop? dia Britannica. Retrieved December 1, 2006, from http://www. utilitarianism. com/utilitarianism. html

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