Save Our Planet
Numerous environmental concerns impact our planet on a global level. Our mother earth is the only planet in the solar system known to sustain life forms of all kinds and we the intellectual sophisticated beings with opposing thumbs were chosen to rule over her. It is evident today that we have managed to begin to deplete the vast natural resources she has provided to us.
Gross misuse, greed, and carelessness have all contributed to this situation. Ensuring the survival of our species and our planet requires that we realize globally our moral and ethical obligations to protect our planet.
The first issue that we must look at is the fact that we are overpopulating our planet and this has serious repercussions. Repercussions such as limited resources like food and water due to overuse and overpopulation. For instance, in the days of Lewis and Clark one was able to dispose of waste in the waters and good old mother earth would filter the waste naturally. Now however, due to overpopulation the earth is no longer able to naturally filter the waste we are asking her to filter. The rational person realizes that if there are not enough resources to support the current population we must curtail and change this behavior.
We live on a planet with a limited amount of space and resources. Thus one would naturally conclude, eventually you will run out of both. We cannot ethically put restrictions on pro-creating and there are no easy answers in this arena. However, in light of today’s technology explosion some considerations that come to mind are providing global education in population management and removing the option of children born to people who are drug addicts, alcoholics, and who have psychological disorders like insanity.
Removing the right of such people to procreate and education will not be the ultimate solution but will undoubtedly produce a more responsible society. Since this is not an option currently, we are left to ponder how can this most essential matter be addressed seriously without judgment to sustain our natural order for survival? We must look at what we are doing to our planet and take responsible action as a species to at least reduce the overuse of land and pollution we are causing. A variety of pollutants are affecting our planet. We see pollutants everywhere.
To name just a few, there is garbage on the streets, in rivers and oceans. The less obvious pollutants to the human eye are burning coal and fuel. It is said that burning coal and fuel can increase the level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. We the intellectual human species have done this massive but reversible damage to our planet that threatens to endanger the possibility of survival for every species in the world. To begin with, our oceans and rivers have been polluted with toxic waste, garbage, medical waste, plastics, and even large oil spills.
Toxic waste, garbage, medical waste, and oil spills cause destruction to marine and wildlife by infecting them with PCB’s, mercury, and diseases from medical and toxic waste. Toxic waste gets into our oceans and rivers from leaking landfills, dumps, mines and farms. It is then digested by the organisms in the ocean and rivers which are then eaten by other larger animals in the food chain. This affects the human population by infecting and contaminating the food source within the waters and possibly eventually ending up on dinner tables around the world.
Consuming contaminated food can cause diseases that can spread throughout the world. Some of the diseases that can be spread by a polluted ocean and polluted sea life to humans are hepatitis, HIV, aids, and viruses such as pneumonia. If seals and dolphins are washing up dead on beaches, what then could happen to the human population? According to the website www. library. thinkquest. org Ocean Pollution, lead and other toxic waste can cause birth defects, low IQ, slow growth and hearing problems for small children (School, 2002). Isn’t it then the human species responsibility to restrict this kind of pollution?
Plastics on the other hand do not contaminate our food sources, plastics simply kill them. For instance in Australia a veterinarian tried to save a baby whale that was sick. The baby whale did not survive. The veterinarian performed an autopsy on the baby whale and found a plastic bag of corn, a plastic bait bag, and some heavy pieces of plastic sheeting that were blocking the bowels of the baby whale (Brower, 1989). Killing animals is not the only problem with plastics; there are numerous others that require mention as well. For one thing plastic is considered a non-degradable substance.
To be more precise, it can take centuries to decompose. So where does all of the plastic waste go? In landfills, the ocean, and to some extent it is recycled and reused. Recycling and reusing are good measures for managing the plastic waste that is filling our planet. However, it requires the human species as a whole to be involved and committed to the general idea of recycling and reusing. Some measures that have been taken are using biodegradable bags instead of plastic bags, melting down the plastics and using them in different applications.
For example, they can make things like combs, fencing, and trash cans out of the number 2 plastics. Continuing to find ways to moderate the abuse of products such as plastics is an important endeavor we must strive to perfect. Using new technologies and working globally as a species is one way in which we will be able to bring about positive change and aid in the recuperation of our environment. Another issue of concern is air pollution. Air pollution damages the ozone and causes acid rain. Acid rain is caused by smoke and gases that come from factories and cars that run on fossil fuels (Acid Rain, 2000). According to the U. S. nvironmental agency acid rain causes stunted growth in forests and the leaves to turn yellow and even fall off of trees completely in some cases. In some cases trees have died out completely with no apparent cause other than acid rain (Effects of acid rain, 2007). Acid rain also erodes the paint on our vehicles. Erosion of the paint on our vehicles is an obvious form of tangible evidence that acid rain is harmful to our environment and our species. Worse, imagine what damage it causes to our soil, plants, and water. If it erodes the paint on our cars, what erosion then is happening in our bodies that consume the food grown in the soil?
Damage to the ozone can contribute to global warming and can bring about change in what is known as the greenhouse gas effect (Global Warming). The greenhouse gas effect is a natural process that regulates the earth’s temperature. “The sun heats the earth and some of this heat is trapped in the atmosphere by clouds and greenhouse gases, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide” (Global Warming). The disappearance of greenhouse gases would cause our planet to be 60 degrees cooler than it is and would no longer be able to sustain life (Global Warming).
As the suns energy passes through the earth’s atmosphere it is reflected or sent back to space with the help of clouds and other atmospheric particles. Clouds, gases (ozone), and atmospheric particles absorb some energy. The remaining energy is then reflected back to space. “On average 51% of the suns radiation reaches the surface of the earth” (Pidwirny, 2009). This energy is used to heat the ground, melt ice, and snow, and to evaporate water and in photosynthesis of plants. The heated debate about global warming continues to carry on. For instance, I was in Mt.
Rushmore with my family on vacation and we took a trip up to the monument. We were surprised to see a person on top of President Lincoln’s head. We asked the Park ranger if that was normal she indicated that at that moment we were in the most secure monument in the nation. They were on high alert because a group of green peace protestors had decided to hang a global warming sign right next to President Lincolns head. We asked what the penalties for such an act was and she indicated that it was a federal offense and the activists would definitely receive a huge monetary fine and serve some prison time.
I wondered if in the end that type of protest was worth the penalties the green peace group will pay. Ethically and morally speaking the green peace group broke the law. The point the green peace group was trying to make could have been made just as easily if the group would have held the sign up at the main entrance. On the other side of the debate of global warming it is said that our planet undergoes cyclical changes and there is scientific evidence indicating as such dating back 3. 3 to 3 million years ago in what was known as the mid-pliocene period (Anonymous, 2008).
Fossils that were examined by scientists indicated that the planet was 4. 5 F degrees warmer than today. That begs an answer to the question is pollution really the only culprit for global warming? That being said, the human species has the responsibility to make every attempt to try and preserve our planet. Addressing these issues is of utmost importance. The consequences of leaving them unaddressed could be severe for generations to come. We must come to the collective conclusion that as a collective whole we are the dominant species and it is up to us to preserve and protect our planet.
This is where moral and ethical considerations must be made in order to understand what we are doing to destroy our planet. By understanding how we are destroying our planet we can make ethical and moral considerations to help preserve our planet. In doing so, we can help to ensure our existence and the survival of our species as well as all other species on the planet. The basic view throughout history has been anthropocentric or human centeredness (Environmental Ethics, 2008). This position in its simplest form deems all things revolve around the use of the human species.
Therefore, we are encouraged to take care of our environment for our continued survival and use. In order to continue to survive and thrive in the manner we are accustomed to, we require many of the things that are said to be polluting the environment. For example, technology used in our day to day lives such as cell phones, computers, household appliances, and televisions have components such as plastics and batteries that are not biodegradable, recyclable, or environmentally friendly. Though many environmentalists do not like to admit it, we require many of these things to survive in today’s day and age.
Thus different ideas need to be shared in order for our species to evolve in a less destructive manner. Can we do things differently to clean up our planet? The answer is yes. It is not the job of large corporations or the government to clean up our collective mess. It is the human species job as a whole to do what is right in order to ensure our species survival. Starting small individually will help promote a consciousness regarding our current situation. If we as a people decide to clean up our act on a small level then corporations and big business will follow suit. Change cannot happen overnight.
Many of the problems we face relate to the economics of our society. Change has to happen slowly in order to ensure the survival of our species. For example, we are accustomed to driving our cars whenever we need to. Cars use gas, and gas pollutes the environment so we need cleaner cars. Producing clean cars costs an enormous amount of money to the current manufacturers because they are not tooled to do such a thing. Therefore, there is a death required within the old manufacturers and old ideas in order for a rebirth to commence and bring about positive responsible change.
Our ethical obligation is to ourselves, the human race. By ensuring our survival as a species we ensure the survival of the rest of the planet. As Aristotle maintained “nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man” (Environmental Ethics, 2007). With this quote in mind it is imperative that we act upon the things we can change and move in a direction that ensures the survival of our planet. After all we were given the intellect and a strong sense to survive. In conclusion, it is not too late to address these issues ethically.
New ways of thinking need to be established regarding our ethical and moral obligations to our planet. As professor Alasdair states “ethicists need not only respond to those they criticize for failure but to issue alternative means to figuring out the problems we face. ” New ideas and solutions to old problems will bring about change. We the human species have the capacity to learn from our mistakes and correct them. In the end it is about survival of the fittest and I believe the human race is all about survival.