Ethics- Environment Response - Academia Essay Writers

Ethics- Environment Response

Ethics- Environment Response

Ethics- Environment Response


Using one of the three environmental theories discussed in Chapter 10 of the Widdows textbook, as well as the rights framework and/or one of the critiques, answer the following prompt: Ethics- Environment Response

1-2 pages

  • attachmentWeek8-DoPeopleReallyCareAbouttheEnvironment.pdf

Do People Really Care about the Environment?

Angelo Eliades ! • April 12, 2017 ” 7 � 1,985 # 14 minutes read

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and

to one another.” – Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest

The idea of caring for our planet may seem like self-evident common sense to the

indigenous tribes of the world who live in close connection to the Earth. Likewise,

for all other environmentally-aware people worldwide, including green activists and

practitioners of permaculture (who are supposed to live by the ethics of care for the

people, care for the planet and taking only one’s fair share). To such people, the idea

that others may not actually care for the planet may seem quite perplexing! Why

would they not care for the natural systems that sustain their lives?

W H Y P E R M A C U LT U R E ?

Is this actually the true state of affairs? We may have our own beliefs about how

people relate to the natural world around us, but before we jump to any assumptions,

we need to objectively determine whether people actually do or don’t care about the

natural environment, and their reasons why.

You will know them by their fruits – sustainable behaviour across nations The expression “Do as I say, not as I do…” captures the pervasiveness of human

hypocrisy. Actions speak louder than words, and nothing expresses the truth about

people or groups of people more clearly than their actions. The concern for the

planet is visibly expressed by a society’s sustainable behaviour or lack of it.

National Geographic has developed an international research approach to measure

and monitor consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption

with its Greendex reports. A quantitative consumer study of 18,000 consumers was

used to produce a scientifically derived sustainable consumption index (and detailed

reports) of actual consumer behaviour and material lifestyles across 18 countries [1].

The 2014 Greendex Sustainable Consumption Ranking Index ranked the 18

countries studied in the following order from most to least sustainable.

– Indians – 1st

Chinese – 2nd

– South Koreans – 3rd

– Brazilians – 4th

– Argentineans – 5th

– Mexicans – 6th

– Hungarians – 7th

– Russians – 8th

– South Africans – 9th

– Germans – 10th

– Spanish – 11th

– Swedish – 12th

– Australians – 13th

– Britons – 14th

– French – 15th

– Japanese – 16th

– Canadians – 17th

– Americans – 18th

In National Geographic’s Greendex, American consumers ranked last in regard to

sustainable behaviour. The study also found that they were are among the least likely

to feel guilty about the impact they had on the environment, even though they scored

very highly as believing that the choices individuals make could make a difference.

Conversely, Chinese and Indian consumers who rated highest in regard to

sustainable behaviour felt the guiltiest about their impact on the environment, even

though they had the least confidence that individual action could make a difference.

The contrast between perceptions, behaviour and the sense of responsibility to the

planet across the lowest and highest rated groups is significant. Ethics- Environment Response

The rankings show that the USA has the worst rating in terms of sustainability,

closely followed, unsurprisingly, by the other Anglo countries, Canada, Britain, and

Australia, with outsiders Japan and France (who by no coincidence are nations that

have also adopted US consumerist culture and values) sitting between them as the

worst six nations. For anyone capable of objective critical thinking, this should

immediately raise the question – what is the common element here? Is this aberrant

behaviour a product of consumer capitalism, the values of modern Anglo culture, or

both? That’s a philosophical question for another place and another time. Despite the

facts, some may still have a few doubts about this ranking. How bad are the world’s

most unsustainable nations really?

We’re definitely doing the wrong thing when we’re overconsuming, which is when

we use more than our fair share of global resources per capita, and when our

consumption is unsustainable. The facts and figures are irrefutable, and frankly, they

paint a very shameful picture.

According to Worldwatch Institute figures, North America and Western Europe

together makeup only 12% of the world’s population but account for 60% of private

consumption spending. By comparison, one-third of the world’s population living in

South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa account for only 3.2%. [2]

Americans make up only around 4.5% of the world’s population, but consume about

a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources – nearly 25 % of the coal, 26 % of the

oil and 27 % of the world’s natural gas. [2]. Some figures put the aggregated US

energy consumption at nearly 20% of the world total [3].

In term of resources, the US uses 30% of the world’s paper, 27% of its aluminum,

and 19% of the copper while creating half of the world’s solid waste [4]. Other

figures put US consumption at 22% of the world’s fossil fuel, 33% of the world’s

paper and plastic, with the production of 24% of the carbon dioxide emissions [5].

Americans consume twice as much fossil fuel as the average person in Great Britain

and two and a half times as much as the Japanese [4]. Part of the problem is the US

fondness for motor vehicles and a reluctance to use alternative forms of transport,

such as public transport. As of 2003, the US had more private cars than licensed

drivers. [2]

From 1900 to 1989 the U.S. population tripled, while its use of raw materials

increased disproportionately by a factor of 17. [4]

In the US, new houses in 2002 were 38 % larger than they were in 1975, even

though the number of people per household on average decreased. [2] Australians

rate much worse than the US, leading the world in floor space per capita. From 1984

to 2003, the average Australian house increased in size by 40%, from 162.2 sq. m to

227.6 sq. m, which is 10% larger than its US equivalent [6].

China is becoming the world’s leader in consumption of some resource such as coal

and copper, but the U.S. remains the leader for per capita consumption of most

resources, and consumes far more natural resources and lives much less sustainably

than any other large country of the world [4].

Behaviour reflects attitudes, and the figures may look quite shocking, especially in

respect to the USA. No country is being singled out here, it’s how the figures fall.

Regrettably, US energy consumption is off the planet, literally.

If the environment is not important to people, what is? You can never have too much evidence to hammer a point home. If there are any

doubts that behaviour reflects attitudes, it’s time to clear up any doubts once and for

all with more hard data. Let’s have a look at some research of people’s attitudes in

the worst performing nation on National Geographic’s Greendex report, the USA to

highlight the correlation between attitudes and behaviour.

Pew Research Center conducted surveys in 2013 to rate how protecting the

environment ranks in the public’s priorities, and the result was that 52% of

Americans believed that protecting the environment should be a top priority for the

president and Congress in 2013. That’s and increase from 41% in 2009, but still

lower than the 57% figure in 2006 and 2007. Before anyone gets too excited, that’s

only how many people thought the environment was worth considering at all. A

‘priority’ here means nothing more than one single priority in a list of many

competing priorities, and when we look at where Americans placed the environment

on the list of priorities, it’s very telling.

Here’s the complete list of priorities for Americans, along with the percentage who

believe each should be “a top priority” [7]:

1. Strengthening nation’s economy – 86%

2. Improving job situation – 79%

3. Reducing budget deficit – 72%

4. Defending against terrorism – 71%

5. Securing Social Security – 70%

6. Improving education – 70%

7. Securing Medicare – 65%

8. Reducing health care costs – 63%

9. Helping poor and needy – 57%

10. Reducing crime – 55%

11. Protecting environment – 52%

12. Dealing with nation’s energy problem – 45%

13. Strengthening the military – 41%

14. Dealing with illegal immigration – 39%

15. Strengthening gun control laws – 37%

16. Dealing with global trade – 31%

17. Improving infrastructure – 30%

18. Dealing with global warming – 28%

Yes, the environment comes in as the 11th highest priority. Strengthening the

economy is first (what were you expecting!), with jobs, budget deficits, terrorism,

social security, education, Medicare, health costs, helping the poor and needy, and

crime all rating above the environment.

The evidence does point to the fact that the countries that overconsume don’t

actually care about the environment, and their behaviour clearly reflects that!

Why would people not care about the environment? Do you really want to know the truth? When reflecting on our own culture, we often

take many things for granted, as a given, with the assumption that things can be no

other way. This is usually because we have no basis for comparison beyond our

narrow cultural perspective. The truth is that when we look beyond our culture, we

find there are many ways to live and understand the world.

When we engage in objective cultural critical analysis to identify the root causes of

problems, we often find that some people personally identify with certain aspects of

the culture being examined, in fact, they invest part of their personal identity in the

said culture, and therefore become defensive when confronted with ‘inconvenient

truths’. I’d hate to say it, but despite our modern first world pretentions at being

logical and rational, and our thinly disguised sense of cultural superiority, we’re

nothing of the sort, we’re not prepared to look in areas where the facts conflict with

personal beliefs – if you want the evidence for that which cites actual research, see

my PRI article Permaculture, Politics and Solutions Thinking.

Enough preamble, let’s dive in! What are the primary reasons why people don’t care

for the environment?

There are several reasons why people do not care about the environment, all of

which are deeply rooted in our cultural beliefs, values, and worldviews. Yes, that’s

right, read that again if you need to – the problem arises from what we believe about

our world since all of our actions begin with our thoughts… The old English

expression ‘A fish rots from the head down’ is also found in many other cultures,

including the Greek, an indication that many diverse cultures worldwide recognise

the fact that toxic and depraved thinking leads to problems down the track.

In this article, for the sake of brevity, we can only present an overview of each of the

root causes, in order to provide a general understanding. To truly do justice to the

topic would need to examine each of the root causes in depth in their own separate

articles, and engage in some very cutting critical cultural analysis.

So, without further ado, what are the reasons why people don’t care about the



When you have a culture that promotes selfish individualism and empty materialism,

elevating these distasteful attributes to the level of desirable virtues, the outcome is


With individual greed, the act of having more and more becomes the preoccupation

of the masses. The advertising industry sells the lie that people can fulfill inner

psychological needs with external material objects, and that they can buy their way

to true happiness (with crap that they don’t really need). The truth is that acquisition

of material objects (especially ones that aren’t needed) is an inappropriate

psychological coping mechanism to deal with a deep dissatisfaction in life,

disempowerment, social alienation and isolation, as well as a sense of lack of

meaning or purpose. These common maladies of first world countries are on the rise,

as is mental illness.

According to the World Health Organisation, depression is now the leading cause of

ill-health and disability worldwide. Rates of depression have risen by more than 18

percent since 2005, with 300 million people estimated to suffer from the condition.

[8] Obviously, the overconsumption we saw documented earlier is not helping to fix

people’s problems and the promise that it will is a sinister lie!

On a broader national level, money is put first and foremost before all other things as

a driver for collective decision making due to the disproportionate influence of the

state-sanctioned secular pseudo-religious cult known as ‘Economics’, to which all

things must be sacrificed – people’s happiness, Nature and even the Earth itself.

Current research shows that this economic focus creates a psychological shift in

perspective that reframes the socially undesirable trait of greed as more acceptable

or even desirable one. [9]

When individuals put all their effort into obsessively acquiring material objects to

the point of unsustainable wastefulness, and nations put money and ‘economics’

above living things, something has to give, and it’s the environment and people that

bear the burden of unrestrained greed.


Many people are too overburdened by their modern lifestyles to care less about

anything other than their everyday wants and needs. With high housing prices,

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people spend most of their lives and most of their time working, trying to pay off

oppressively high levels of debt to ‘maintain their lifestyles’ – which are often based

around the theme of over-consumption and leisure.

The way modern industrialised societies operate, people are disconnected and

abstracted from Nature and where their food ultimately comes from. People may

either think that ‘saving the planet’ is someone else’s problem, or that they’re

completely powerless to do anything about it anyway. Let’s be honest here, in a

culture that promotes diminished personal responsibility, where people aren’t even

responsible for themselves, how can we expect that they’d be responsible for their

community or the planet. Being ignorant and self-absorbed doesn’t help either, and

with psychological research showing growing levels of narcissism, the advent of

‘Generation Me’ and the selfie-culture, it’s obvious something is amiss!

Technological Utopianism

A common assumption among scientists today is that with more knowledge, people

will make the right decisions or at least better decisions, and change their behaviour.

Research has shown that with both politically influenced thinking [10], or thinking

in relation to environmental issues [11], this is definitely a flawed assumption and

clearly not the case.

What is technological utopianism? We’ve all overheard people saying “Sometime in

the future, science will cure all diseases, solve world hunger, eliminate pollution…”

and all other manner of miracles. Technological utopianism is a belief that advances

in science and technology (basically an increase in knowledge), will eventually

bring about a utopia, or at least help to fulfill one or another utopian ideal. In reality,

it’s nothing more than a false belief, an irrational narrative that science and

technology will solve all of our environmental issues and all of our other problems

too, so, for now, we can absolve ourselves of any responsibility for our planet

because someone else will fix the problem at some unspecified point in the future.

The logical flaw of technological utopianism lies in its basic premise that science

and technology that is creating the problems will somehow also be able to solve all

the problems that it creates. To quote the eminent scientist Albert Einstein on this

matter – “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we

created them.”

It should be apparent that the narrative of technological utopianism is not only

illogical, but it is also a faith-based secular belief unsupported by evidence. Critics

rightfully claim that techno-utopianism wrongly equates social progress with

scientific progress, and this irrational ‘belief in science’ is nothing more than the

substitute pseudo-religion of scientism.

University of Alberta researcher Imre Szeman, who wrote “System Failure: Oil,

Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster” made the comment that “Technological

utopianism is a very bizarre narrative because there’s no evidence of this fact…

What it shows is the extent to which we place a lot of faith in narratives of progress

and technology overcoming things, despite all evidence to the contrary.” [12]

(Misinterpretation of) Religion

People can and do interpret religious teachings of all sorts as they choose in order to

support their beliefs. It’s not a ‘religious thing’, it’s a ‘human thing’. We’ve seen

with technological utopianism and scientism how allegedly ‘logical’ secular types

can turn the discipline of science into a substitute religion and use it to rationalise

and justify damaging the environment. Why should it be any different with any other

ideology, philosophy or system of religious belief? Humans are versatile, innovative

and creative, especially when it comes to denying reality to support their own views!

Now, I’ve read a lot of comparative religion and spirituality over the years, and from

my understanding the allegedly religious views used to justify not caring for the

environment are neither canonical nor commonly accepted, they’re there in the

fringe extremes and atypical exceptions to the norm, though sometimes they’re quite

prominent and vocal.

US Republican congressman John Shimkus, speaking before a House Energy

Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing in March 2009, opposing the

limiting of carbon emissions, quoted the Book of Genesis Chapter 8, Verse 22 to

insist that we shouldn’t concerned about the planet being destroyed because God

promised Noah it wouldn’t happen again after the great flood. He stated “The earth

will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth.

This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.”

The congressman’s reasoning here is that global warming would cause flooding, and

that can’t happen again because of a promise the Abrahamic deity gave the Jewish

people approximately 2,000 years ago, so he believes that no amount of carbon

emissions will destroy the planet. Reasoning within the framework of this system of

belief, there’s a glaring hole in this logic – perhaps global warming can destroy the

planet in ways other than flooding! According to current research, temperature rises

resulting from global warming are forecast to lead to drought, crop failures and mass

starvation in the tropics and subtropics. It is estimated that global food shortages will

become three times more likely as a result of climate change.

In my opinion, people who believe that they’ve found a loophole in divine law and

then knowingly and willingly behaving irresponsibly, acting in ways that can destroy

the planet to maximise corporate and industry profits are seriously tempting fate, and

pardon the pun, dicing with the Devil…

Just to show that humans can twist things around to suit them any way they like, we

also have a competing fringe religious misinterpretation that natural disasters and

events such as global warming are a sign of “the end times”, the Apocalypse, and

that the action of environmentalists to save the planet would be working against the

divine grand plan to ‘reboot’ humanity and life on the planet by delaying it.

Contrary to these opinions, as far as I can understand, the teachings in the books of

Christianity or any other religion do not support trashing the planet for money,

tempting fate by trying to destroy the planet to test the power of their deity, or

speeding up the end of the world as we know it or assisting in the process!

In conclusion It’s clear who the least sustainable nations of the planet are, and it’s worrying that

they feel the least guilt about their actions and their effects on the environment. They

simply don’t really care that much about the planet, in their minds they have far

more important priorities which they place ahead of environmental concerns.

In our brief examination of the main reasons why people don’t care for the

environment, we have seen how depraved worldviews, beliefs, and values have

significant and profound consequences for the planet and its people. In terms of

solutions, there’s a crucial clue here, the way to change the world is to change how

people think about it!

The facts and figures clearly show that the state of affairs in respect to the

environment in English-speaking ‘first world’ countries are not good. If there ever

was a clear call to action for environmental activists and permaculture practitioners,

if this isn’t it, I don’t know what is!


1. National Geographic, Greendex Reports 2014

2. Worldwatch Institute, “The State of Consumption Today” – Global Inequities

3. World Population Balance, “Population and Energy Consumption”

4. Scientific American, “Use It and Lose It: The Outsize Effect of U.S. Consumption

on the Environment”

5. Sierra Club, “Sustainable Consumption”

6. “Why are our houses getting bigger?” Emma Sorensen,

7. Pew Research Center, Protecting the Environment Ranks in the Middle of

Public’s Priorities for 2013, Apr 22, 2013

8. World Health Organisation – News release 30 March 2017 | GENEVA,

“Depression: let’s talk” says WHO, as depression tops list of causes of ill health

9. Long Wang, Deepak Malhotra and J. Keith Murnighan, Economics Education and

Greed, doi: 10.5465/amle.2009.0185 ACAD MANAG LEARN EDU December 1,

2011 vol. 10 no. 4 643-660

10. Kahan, Dan M. and Peters, Ellen and Dawson, Erica Cantrell and Slovic, Paul,

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government (September 3, 2013).

Behavioural Public Policy, Forthcoming; Yale Law School, Public Law Working

Paper No. 307. Available at SSRN: or

11. University of Alberta. “People generally do not act on information on the effects

of oil on the environment.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2010.

12. Szeman et al. System Failure: Oil, Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster.

South Atlantic Quarterly, 2007; 106 (4): 805 DOI: 10.1215/00382876-2007-047

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Ken April 15, 2017 at 12:11 pm

I have been looking at our global problems and how they can be addressed for a few years and it all boils down to town planning, I want to build futuristic sustainable towns and have figured out how it can be done financially and construction wise but I lack a team to make it happen. a little controversial as its not how we do thing now and creates a solution for refugees equality and environmental issue resolutions. that we could all live in affordable housing that is environmentally friendly within 20 years. BUT who wants that right?

donna devadoss April 15, 2017 at 9:58 pm

The laws make a huge difference in the US. Sustainability in one way or another is restricted for most people. We have arrested people for everything from growing a garden to small wind turbines and collecting rainwater. Zoning laws prevent small houses, our recycling centers closed by restrictions that prevented anyone but waste management a huge corp from even collecting garbage. Everything even the things that look like they are good are only designed to impoverish and enslave people and feed the corporations. The people can’t stop over consuming without threat of jail.






JJ April 18, 2017 at 11:13 am

Noam Chomsky or Russell Brand’s “Revolution” explains why we are in this mess.

John November 23, 2017 at 5:41 am

Interesting. However the top two on the list (India and China) have the worlds worst pollution problems! I think you forgot to factor in human population issues. The rest of the world can do all it wants, but as long as you have two heavily polluted countries with billions of people and almost no environmental standards it wont matter.

AMB June 12, 2019 at 8:49 am

yeah I have to agree with john India and China do have high pollution rates

Angelo Eliades January 3, 2019 at 10:05 am

Hi John, National Geographic’s Greendex Sustainable Consumption Ranking was developed an international research approach to measure and monitor consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption, it’s not a measure of absolute environmental pollution levels.


AMB June 12, 2019 at 8:57 am

so why do India and China in one of the most sustainable countries???


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