Prediction of extinction

Earth is incomprehensibly large to most men. In a sense, that is a contributing factor to life insofar as the incomprehensible size of the earth producing a seemingly unlimited abundance of variety of many resources. What happens when that abundance expires? Mark Whitehead writes “cities channel the flows of capital investment, housing construction and the production of goods alongside the flow of environmental resources such as air, water, foodstuffs, minerals and energy.” (109) Naturally, water and arable land are necessary for any large scale urbanization but even as large as the Earth is, it’s resources are limited. Moreover, building closer to these resources enables utilization at a far higher rate which results in more economic growth which results in population growth which results in increased rate of consumption of natural resources.

http://www.worldometers.info/ provides us with an idea of human consumption of these resources and the corresponding effects. According to the website oil, natural gas, and coal will have all expired in roughly 400 years. In the mean time CO2 emissions will continue to pour into the atmosphere by the trillions of tons per month.

The call for socialized free-market

Market drives production. Many large corporate companies, such as Wal-Mart, have little regard for the source of the materials they acquire. For these companies, such information is useless. Whitehead provides us with an example of Wal-Mart selling baby cribs made from wood that was sourced in Russia and corollary with very high rates of illegal logging practices. Usually, these companies float under the radar for a few years benefiting from low cost materials due to their illegal acquisition. Then suddenly a media group picks up the story and these large corporate entities claim no knowledge of the environmental crimes that they are promoting by ‘unknowingly’ purchasing illegally acquired materials. Vimeo demonstrates the results of these loose moral principles in a video that highlights mankind’s contribution to endangerment of certain species. https://vimeo.com/64242398

The video calls for harsher punishments for the individuals poaching these animals but the problem is still that market drives production. To eliminate this problem, we must eliminate its market.

Loess Plateau Revived

Loess is a type of fine soil. The Loess Plateau, an area in China roughly the size of France, is composed mainly of this type of soil. Due to millennia of destructive influences, primarily from deforestation and cattle grazing, this area had destabilized providing challenging, unsustainable living conditions for its fifty million inhabitants. During the 1990’s, however, China and the World Bank formed an opposition to this challenge.

After ten years and an estimated 491 million dollars, with the help of the locals, the region is well on its way to restoration. The locals, instructed by scientific method, enacted a system which enabled the Loess Plateau to be stabilized with trees, shrubbery, and grass that contribute to sustenance. In terms of rising population, the ability to turn desert land in to arable land is essential not just for China, but for the world’s population which is growing at an exponential rate. The proven methods utilized in the Loess Plateau are just another example that this epoch is truly one of mankind.

Sources:

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2007/03/15/restoring-chinas-loess-plateau

Global Warming

The greenhouse effect is the idea that that average temperature of the earth is increasing due to human activity, or more specifically, due to the release of gasses that trap the energy of the sun inside the earths atmosphere. Live Science links to a NASA website that says as much. http://www.livescience.com/37743-greenhouse-effect.html

What does this mean for humanity? The answer is not really clear. We can deduce that all the ice caps would melt eventually, causing the shoreline’s to raise a few hundred feet.. But since there is enough habitable land to sustain the people who would be affected after all the ice has melted, I can’t hold the view that it is really a cause for concern. Additionally, the temperature of the earth will rise meaning that the places that are hot will get hotter and the places that are cold will get warmer.. Still though, I don’t see why this is a problem. Species have adapted to their environments for hundreds of millennia and we can assume that they will continue to do so.. So the only option left is a worst case scenario in which the planet becomes so hot that it is unlivable. At this point, the damage is already done though.. The amount of industrial reduction needed to avoid this catastrophe would effectively return us to the stone age, and cost an incalculable amount of money. Realistically, it would be better for us to prepare for Global Warming than to keep harping on about trying to avoid what is seemingly inevitable.

Dwindling Fossil Fuels

According to the Institute of Energy Research, fossil fuels are what make modern life possible. Fossil fuels “are created from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago in the form of concentrated biomass.” <http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/topics/encyclopedia/fossil-fuels/>

Chapter 2 of ET proposes two positions on the consumption of these resources. One is that they will all eventually be used up, the other is that technology will get to a point where the consumption of fossil fuels will prevent that from ever happening.

Critically, if we are consuming, by the gigaton, resources that have taken millions of years to develop, and we have a population that is expanding at an exponential rate.. No matter how efficient technology, both math and reason will have strong arguments against humanity ever being able to achieve a maintenance phase of a resource that takes millions of years to form. Aside from the environmental effects of this kind of consumption of fossil fuels, there are considerations that need to be made for the dwindling resources. Such as, what happens when energy becomes a precious commodity?

 

Sustainable Community

Mark Whitehead submits three areas which are concerned with Environmental Geography; “spatial relations, spatial locations and spatial systems.”

Sustainable community (spatial system) is a relatively new idea that essentially proposes outsourcing dirty work so that filth doesn’t accumulate in the immediate vicinity of daily living. The main idea is to head toward the future trying to adopt a more environment friendly lifestyle in one place (spatial location). The main problem with this ideal is that some necessary’s for living will come from other economies. Naturally, the displacement of production (spatial relations) will cause these other economies to explode, effectively increasing environmentally harmful emissions. I suppose that so long as it is not our problem, it is not a problem.. While the ideology seems to have roots in a respectable intention, preserving the natural, our current civilization does not yet possess the technology needed to give any real attention to the concept of sustainability in general. The very first necessary step which is required for this ideal to be considered is a clean, cheap, and efficient method of energy production so that no interdependence is required to sustain this ‘sustainable community’.

Sources:

“Sustainable Communities.” Sustainability. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2015 http://www.nrdc.org/sustainable-communities/

Whitehead, Mark. Environmental Transformations: A Geography of the Anthropocene. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.

Ethical Theory

Philosophical ethics is the examination of normative judgements. The text gives (1)dispute, (2)evaluation of current theories to obtain a metacognitive analysis, (3)functions and recommendations of theories, and (4)validity of theory as the “Four general considerations” that “make theory relevant to the study of environmental ethics.” (page 26)

I am going to take a more general philosophical approach in highlighting this principle rather than an environmentally specific approach, because I believe it will illustrate the accuracy of the principle more clearly.

Is there a way in which something, that seems contradictory to itself, can maintain an existence?

Analytical philosophy, as you might know, would say no. Analytic philosophy holds that propositions which are self-contradictory cannot be necessary propositions. For analytic philosophers, that would be as far as the journey takes them. This is very evident in a debate that Bertrand Russell had with F.C. Copleston over the cosmological argument.

Aristotle once wrote “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I propose that this is a necessary foundation upon which philosophers come to examine different ideas. Therefore, for any philosopher to take the position that a proposition ought not be considered because it is self-contradictory, seems to me contrary to the mindset necessary for any philosopher. So, to say one who is an analytic philosopher is a philosopher holds a contradictory notion that is troubling for me based on the foundations of analytic philosophy.

How does this relate to environmental ethics? Bertrand Russell was one of the greatest minds of our time. He even has a little biographical synopsis next to his picture when one Google’s his name. He was an analytic philosopher. Since his time (died 1970), we have discovered that there was very likely a beginning to the universe (contradictory to Russell’s belief) and that means that there must have been, if this is true, a necessary being (also contradictory to Russell’s belief as it assumes that something can exists in nothingness). In fact, the laws of nature are necessary to the creation of the universe and without them we would not exist, all according to science. This means that they existed at a time before existence and are therefore analytically contradictory, no matter how true.

Again, environmental ethics?? Well, it’s simple. As a race, we now know certain things that many in the past have not had access to. Moreover, the theories of the past have been proven false precisely because they were based on the assumption that the inconceivably unreasonable is impossible. This dogmatic way of thinking is what has caused us to be exactly in the position we are with relation to not only environmental ethical theory but any system of ethical theory.

If we look at the framework given by the text for ethical theories, we can see that we have both a dispute and invalid theory. To identify why the theory is invalid, we need to address the other two considerations to determine why the designers of said theory were thinking what they were thinking and how the ends that they had been previously established translated in to our current position of holding disputes with those ends as well as invalid theories. I believe this form of consideration is precisely what is needed to solidify modern environmental ethical theory.

Sources:

DesJardins, Joseph R. Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.

“Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (Frederick Copleston vs Bertrand Russell).” YouTube. YouTube, 11 July 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.