Chapter 7: The Environment Saturday, December 3, 2016 6:55 PM ∙ Clean Water Act (1972): passed by Congress with the goal of eliminating all water pollution by 1985 ∙ EnvironmentDon't forget about the age old question of dendrites in a neuron send outgoing signals to other cells.
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al Protection Agency (EPA): enforce the Clean Water Act, going after companies that violate it ∙ Clean Air Act (1970): banned lead as a fuel additive of gasoline ∙ Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: require further measures be taken to fight smog, acid rain, and toxic emissions Business and Ecology ∙ Ecology: the science of the interrelationships among organisms and their environments o Interdependence exists among all entities of the environment ∙ Ecosystems: a total ecological community, both living and nonliving o A change in any one element can have ripple effects throughout the system o Ex: reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone Park effected all the other animals o Humans possess the power to upset dramatically the stability of natural ecosystems o Many commercial activities have unpredictable and often disruptive environmental consequences ∙ Example: nitrogen fertilizer o Sometimes unseen benefits result from tampering with ecosystems ∙ Oil spills forced animals to find better habitats and increased the number of fish ∙ Business's Traditional Attitudes Toward the Environment o One is the tendency to view the natural world as something free and without limit, something we can exploit without regard to the future o Both pollution and the depletion of natural resources involve using up something that is in a limited supply o Tragedy of the Commons: thee can be a difference between the private costs and the social costs of a business activity ∙ Described by Garrett Hardin ∙ Ex: animals grazing in the common & destroying it ∙ Each person's pursuit of self-interest makes everyone worse off o Externality (Spillover): the disparity between private industrial costs and public social costs and public social costs ∙ Businesses overlook this ∙ Arises in context of resource depletion ∙ In sum, externalities or spillover effects, pursuits of private interest at the expense of the commons, and a view of the environment as a free good that can be consumed without limit have combined with an ignorance of ecology and of the often fragile interconnections and interdependencies of the natural world to create the serious environmental problems facing us today The Ethics of Environmental Protection∙ Much of what we do to reduce, eliminate, or avoid pollution and the depletion of scarce natural resources is in our collective self-interest ∙ Free-Rider Problem: the temptation to shirk individual responsibility and benefit from the efforts of others ∙ Business have an implicit social contract that reflects what society hopes to achieve by allowing businesses to operate o Businesses that try to be free-riders or refuse to address the spillover or external costs of their business activities violate this contract ∙ Right to a Livable Environment: each human has a right to a livable environment which is essential for one to fulfill his/her human capacities o Argued by moral theorist William Blackstone o A result of the changing environmental conditions which affect human life o Recognition of this moral right would provide compelling grounds for establishing a legal right for a livable environment ∙ This would enhance our ability to go after polluters and other abusers of the natural environment o Still faced with the economic and moral costs ∙ The Costs of Pollution Control o We must consider the quality of the environment we want o What is necessary to bring about the kind of environment we want o What will it cost to improve the environment o Cost Benefit Analysis: a device used to determine whether the it's worthwhile to incur a particular cost ∙ To evaluate the project's direct and indirect costs and benefits, the difference being the net result for society ∙ Extremely difficult to make reliable estimates of actual costs and benefits, of putting price tags on the different effects of the policy being considered o Ecological Economics: a new discipline attempting to expand further the boundaries of environmental cost-benefit analysis by calculating the value of an ecosystem in terms of what it would cost to provide the benefits and services it now furnishes us ∙ Traditional market pricing fails to capture the economic benefits that nature provides o Cost-benefit analyses of rival environmental policies will frequently prove controversial because they inevitably involve making value judgements about nonmonetary costs and benefits ∙ Costs can include time, effort, discomfort, and lost opportunities ∙ Benefits can include health, comfort, enjoyment, scenic beauty, self-fulfillment, and so on ∙ Difficult to quantify ∙ Who Should Pay the Costs? o Restoring the environment or even just helping businesses and individuals to climate change could well up being the biggest economic enterprise of our times, a huge source of jobs, profits, and poverty alleviation o Those responsible for causing the pollution ought to pay or those who stand to benefit from protection and restoration should pick up the tab∙ Those Responsible ∙ Who, exactly, is responsible for the pollution? ∙ Many people argue that big business is the chief polluter and therefore ought to bear the costs ∙ But consumers have also benefited by not having to pay higher prices for products ∙ Consumers create the demand for the products whose production impairs the environment ∙ Population and the increasing concentration of population in urban areas are causes of environmental degradation ∙ Also the ever-increasing demand for goods and services, natural resources, energy and industrial production ∙ As people get more money to spend, they buy and consume more tangible goods, discard them more quickly, and produce more waste, all of which put pressure on the environment ∙ In conclusion, the enemy turns out to be all of us in this case ∙ Those Who Would Benefit ∙ Workers in certain industries and people living in certain neighborhoods or regions benefit more than other people from environmental controls ∙ The trouble with this argument is that every individual, rich or poor, and every institution, large and small stands to benefit in some way from environmental protection and restoration, albeit not necessarily to the same degree ∙ Pollution touches everyone ∙ This position means that individuals and groups should pay to the degree that they will benefit, but one must wonder how this could possibly be determined ∙ Although we all share some responsibility for pollution, certain companies and industries stand out as excessive polluters ∙ Electric-power plants & coal-burning plants ∙ In conclusion, the point is that a fair and just program for assigning costs begins with recognition that we all bear some responsibility for our environmental problems and that we all stand to benefit from correcting them Achieving Our Environmental Goals ∙ Without an environmentally informed citizenry making conscientious political, business, and consumer choices, it will prove impossible to reverse the degradation of our environment by halting pollution, stemming global warming, and reducing the utilization of natural resources to sustainable levels ∙ Government has a crucial role to play by initiating programs that prod business to behave in a more environmentally responsible ways ∙ Regulations o Regulatory Approach: makes use of direct public regulation and control in determining how the pollution bill is paido Although a regulatory approach is fair in the sense of setting legally enforced standards that apply to all, it has four drawbacks ∙ Pollution statutes and regulations generally require polluters to use the strongest feasible means of pollution control ∙ Although universal environmental standards are fair in the sense that they apply to all equally, this very fact raises questions about their effectiveness ∙ Regulation can also take away an industry's incentive to do more than the minimum required by law ∙ The problem of displacement costs resulting from industrial relocation or shutdown due to environmental regulations o But if regulations are tougher for new entrants to an industry than for existing forms, as they often are, then new investment may be discouraged- even if newer plants would be cleaner than older ones ∙ Incentives o Incentive Approach: minimizes government interference in business and encourages voluntary action rather than coercing compliance ∙ By allowing firms to move at their own pace, it avoids that evident unfairness to firms that cannot meet regulatory standards and must either relocate or fail ∙ Provides an economic reason for going beyond the minimum o An incentives-based approach is likely to be slow, sometimes amounts to paying polluters not to pollute, and can be distorted by special interests ∙ Pricing Mechanisms and Pollution Permits o Pricing Mechanisms: programs designed to charge firms for the amount of pollution they produce ∙ Can be divided by specific types of pollution ∙ Places the cost of pollution control squarely on the polluters ∙ Penalize rather than compensate ∙ Firms are encouraged to do more than meet the minimal requirements ∙ Pollution costs would become production costs o Pollution Permits: instead of imposing a tax or a fee on the pollutants released into the environment, the government could charge companies for pollution permits, or auction off a limited number of permits ∙ Could give companies permits to discharge a limited amount of pollution then allow them to buy and sell the right to emit pollutions ∙ Companies with low pollution levels can make money by selling their pollution rights to companies with poorer controls ∙ Each firm can estimate the relative costs of continuing to pollute as opposed to investing in cleaner procedures ∙ Fairness calls for input from all sectors of society, a deliberate commitment by all parties to work in concert, a sizable measure of good faith and perhaps above all else a heightened sense of social justice ∙ Environmental protection isn't a static or zero-sum trade-off ∙ Higher environmental standards can pressure companies to invest in new technology, thus enhancing efficiency as well as reducing pollutionDelving Deeper Into Environmental Ethics ∙ Global Environmental Fairness o We need to consider our obligations to those who live outside our society ∙ US relies too much on the natural resources of other countries and consumes more than any other nation o Many economists believe that measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may improve US productivity in the long run o Tropical rain forests are also a concern ∙ They are the earth's richest, oldest, and most complex ecosystem ∙ Are major reservoirs of biodiversity ∙ Half of the world's rain forest has disappeared o Global climate change is an issue ∙ Greenhouse gases from industrialization are destabilizing the world's climate ∙ The countries that are the least equipped to handle it are dealing with the major consequences o The inequalities of the world's environmental troubles thus raise the question of the nature and extent of the obligation, if any, of the advanced industrialized nations to assist poorer nations to deal with the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, which we -not they- have brought about o To satisfy its disproportionate consumption of nonrenewable resources, America turns to foreign lands, which raises two moral questions ∙ How will the continued availability of foreign resources be secured? ∙ Will it lead to the US trying to politically and economically control other countries? ∙ Would involve violations of rights and interests of the dominated population ∙ Does any one nation have the right to consume the world's irreplaceable resources at a rate to grossly out of proportion to the size of its population? ∙ Are we respecting the needs and interests of both our present co-inhabitants on this planet and the future generations to come? ∙ Obligations to Future Generations o Future Generations: our remote descendants are not yet alive and thus cannot claim a right to a livable environment o It would be wrong to empty the globe of resources or to irreparably contaminate the environment that we pass on to future generations o Philosopher Joel Feinberg argues that whatever future beings turn out to be like, they will have interests that we can affect, for better or worse, right now ∙ This is enough to both talk coherently about their having rights and to impose a duty on us not to leave ecological time bombs for them ∙ Contingent on future people coming into existenceo Even if we are persuaded that the future generations have rights, we still do not know exactly what those rights are or how they are to be balanced against the interests and rights of present people o The policies we adopt will affect who is born in the future ∙ Could affect the standard of living o Annette Baier argues that the important thing is to "recognize our obligations to consider the good of the continuing human community" ∙ Stance suggests adopting a utilitarian perspective o John Rawls suggests that members of each generation put themselves into the original position to decide what would be a just way of distributing resources between consecutive generations ∙ The Value of Nature o A radical approach to environmental ethics challenges the human centered assumption that preserving the environment is good only because it is good for us o Naturalistic Ethic: nature can have value in and of itself, apart from human beings o Philosophers disagree about whether nature has intrinsic value o Adopting a human-oriented point of view, some theorists contend that the environment is valuable only because human beings value it o However, those adopting a naturalistic ethic believe that the value of nature is not simply a function of human interests ∙ Would change our way of looking at nature ∙ Natural objects have no interests ∙ Our Treatment of Animals o Animals have at least a rudimentary cognitive awareness o Many contemporary philosophers argue that because animals have genuine interests, they have genuine moral rights-despite the fact that they cannot claim their rights o Animals do not have to be equal to human beings to have certain moral rights that we must respect o Utilitarians would stress that higher animals are sentient- capable of feeling pain ∙ Our actions have effects on animals, and these consequences cannot be ignored o Business affect animals through experimentation and the testing of products on animals ∙ Utilitarians are willing to permit this as long as the overall results justify their pain and suffering o Factor Farming ∙ Business's largest and most devastating impact on animals is through the production of animal-related products- mainly meat ∙ The desire of the meat and animal-products industries to economize leads to their treating animals in ways that many reject as cruel and immoral o Is It Wrong to Eat Meat? ∙ Moral Vegetarians: people who reject the eating of meat on moral grounds ∙ They are against the sacrifices of the most important and basic interests of animals simply to satisfy human tastes∙ Some philosophers contend that it is permissible to raise animals for food if their lives are, on balance, positive ∙ Other moral theorists challenge this view, saying that at least higher animals have a right to life and should not be killed ∙ In general, however, other countries are ahead of the US with respect to their treatment of animals