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Ethics and the Environment

Ecology is defined as the study of the various interactions and connections that exist between the various organisms that exist in the environment. These may include physical and chemical interactions. It can also include relationships that exist between plants and animals, animals and animals, and living things and non-living things. The term ecology was first coined by the German biologist and Darwinist Ernst Haeckel, considering the Greek ‘oikos’ meant ‘house’ and the world ‘logy’ meant ‘science’. Ecology is a biological science and has several sub-divisions.

Ecology can also refer to the relationship the organism is having with its environment. The various problems and issues that are currently affecting the environment including pollution, deforestation, extinction of various species, etc, do come under the realm of ecology. Ecology is very important for human sciences as the very survival of the human species depends on a close understanding of the ecology. If several other species are becoming endangered and are going extinct, then human beings also face such a grave risk.

This is where ‘ecological ethics’ comes into the picture. Ecological ethics plays a very important role today, as the ecology is in a crisis and only ethics could save ecology. The moral principles that establish the human behavior towards the environment and the manner in which the environment should be cared for and protected is known as ‘ecological ethics’ (UWC, 2007 & OECD, 2001). The issues regarding ecological ethics are of three types, shallow, intermediate and deep. Shallow ethics refer to considering humans alone to be greatest importance in the environment.

Intermediate ethics refer to giving human’s importance but also considering other forms of life. In deep ethics, the other organisms along with humans are considered important in maintaining the ecosystem. The role of ethics is three fold:- 1. establishing certain customs and practices in human beings 2. establishing proper moral behavior 3. Helping guide the philosophical and moral principles (Curry, 1999). At the moment, ecological ethics need to be considering seriously, as an environmental crisis is existing due to the shallow ecological ethics humans have demonstrated in the past.

An environmental strategy should be developed so as to enable protection of the environment (plant and animal life). Deep ethics have been formulated by Arne Naess together with Devall and consider that presently human beings are excessively interfering with the environment, and the situation is worsening. In order to reduce this interference, policies need to be changed and regulations need to be imposed. This would bring a change in the attitude of humans, thus enabling the environment to flourish.

Studies conducted in various ecosystems have demonstrated that once the condition of the ecology was improved, there were several benefits for human being also. For example in the field of oil exploration and petroleum extraction. Some of the current methods utilized are very environmentally disastrous and consume a lot of energy. Instead of using fossil fuels to such an extent, the government and other organizations, can plan on using other alternative energy sources including solar energy, biogas, nuclear energy, etc, which may be more friendly to the environment (Dalby, 2007).

Protecting the environment through deep ethical principles has a lot of advantages such as:- ? Permit the natural interactions between various organisms such as plants, animal and humans ? Make the environment much more favorable for the organisms that need it for survival ? Help to reduce several disastrous process that are existent in the environment due to human activity such as global warming, rising sea levels, deforestation, etc (Curry, 1999).

References:

Curry, P (1999). “On Ecological Ethics: A Critical Introduction. ” Retrieved on May 4, 2008, from ECO Web site: http://eco.gn. apc. org/pubs/ethics_curry. html#Summary Dalby, S. 2007). “Ecological Intervention and Anthropocene Ethics (Online Exclusive). ” Ethics & International Affairs, 21, 3, Fall. http://www. cceia. org/resources/journal/21_3/feature_and_symposium/003. html OECD (2001). “Ecological Ethics. ” Retrieved on May 4, 2008, from OECD Web site: http://stats. oecd. org/glossary/detail. asp? ID=716 UWC (2007). “What is Ecology? ” Retrieved on May 4, 2008, from UWC Web site: http://www. botany. uwc. ac. za/sci_ed/grade10/ecology/introduction. htm

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