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Ethical Theory and the Environment

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Ethical Theory and the Environment Ralph M. Dahm SCI 361 - Environmental Issues and Ethics Dr. Theodore R. Ferguson March 21, 2005 Ethical Theory and the Environment Chapter 1, Question 1 The question of whom should determine the levels of acceptable risk when evaluating the safety of chemical pesticides is multifaceted. Depending on the motivation of those involved several answers are possible. Jardins (2001, p. 4) asks "Are the benefits worth the risks"? Corporations manufacturing chemical pesticides are strongly motivated to promote their products as safe. Farmers have an incentive to produce higher crop yields and tend to have a higher tolerance to perceived safety factors. Scientists have the skills and knowledge to fully understand the safety factors of pesticides at varying strengths, but may be influenced by corporate funding. The average person who may be affected by contamination from the use of chemical pesticides may not have the technical knowledge to understand the consequences of exposure. They may not even be aware of exposure from foods, run-off, or airborne pollution of pesticide by-products. Conversely the average person is most at risk from unethical decisions on the safety of chemical pesticide products. ...read more.


This could cause damage and upset the ecological balance between the species. Human nature is both positive and negative. There are good elements such as the protection of children. There are also bad elements such as those who would harm children. Natural fertilizers are used worldwide to enrich soil for growing foods or to produce a beautiful garden. Human and animal waste is treated and prepared for use as fertilizers. An "unnatural" fertilizer would be one of the many manufactured chemical enhancers designed specifically to increase crop yields in agricultural applications. This is also true for fish and animal production. In Japan the practice of feeding cattle beer to add a sweet taste to their meat is common. In the United States, Crab Shell Organic Fertilizer is a natural fertilizer that claims to "outperform chemical fertilizers". Natural pesticides could be predators of specific pests. Ladybugs are a good example of a natural predator that is considered "good" by gardeners. Lacewings are perhaps a more robust predator than Ladybugs. Bioscape, Inc. promotes their effectiveness by claiming the "Lacewing is the most voracious, and has the greatest versatility for pests of field crops, orchards, and greenhouses". ...read more.


Chapter 2, Question 3 The nuclear power industry is a classic example of utilitarian ethics. The greater good of the highest number of people is paramount in the location and operation of these plants. Rural areas are natural locations due to the lower costs of acquiring land. Labor costs for construction are lower in rural areas. The cost of power distribution does not increase significantly versus the added risk of locating nuclear power plants in metro areas. Nuclear waste storage facilities cannot feasibly be located near the plants. The waste material must be relocated to specially designed geologically stable regions of the country. While people living in the areas where nuclear waste is stored do not benefit from the power generated by this spent fuel, there are other benefits. The storage facility creates local jobs and generates revenue from storage and monitoring fees. Chapter 2, Question 5 The storage of nuclear waste materials is a classic example of the debate between jobs and environmental protection. Where the radioactive waste to be stored locally near the plants the produced it, local jobs and revenues would be created. However, the potential for environmental contamination would be an unacceptable high risk. The utilitarian tradeoff of moving the waste to stable geographic locations is preferred to the potential disaster inherent in storage facilities near power plants. ...read more.

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