Environmental Ethics


a. How have humans "wrecked" the ocean and what are the potential consequences? (hite: overfishing, biological pollution, Climate change)

Main causes of the oceans’ wrecking are the pollution, climate change, and overfishing. Speaker claims that due to, human errors, a biological pollution is caused every time. It was shown that the rapid uncontrolled spread of one plant caused by the human error led to the extinction of many sea species in the given region. The presentation also covered the problem of overfishing which is also caused the disappearance of the normal fish and the wide spread of the jellyfish. Summing it all up, the speaker considers that in the future, people will see the pretty dirty, empty oceans full of mercury. He asserts that it will happen if people do not change their ecological behavior.

b. What is a "dead zone" and how does it form?

Dead zones are the areas of the oceans that have become abandoned by all living organisms due to the worsening environmental conditions. Dead zones are caused by a lot of things among which are the pollution, especially the biological one, the climate change, overfishing accompanied by various kinds of human activity. The speaker also stresses that in case no policy to reduce the aforementioned negative causes of oceans’ pollution is carried out, people will experience the dead-zonification of the planet in total.

c. What can we do to improve ocean conditions? Provide an example action or BMP.

In my opinion, at least, we should change our behavior and way of thinking. We must forget about greed and ever-increasing need for growth since otherwise, it could lead to unexpected consequences. We should shorten the consumption as well as decrease the temps of industrial growth. In addition, everyone should keep in mind that his or her actions may have some negative outcomes for the ecology and mankind. Therefore, everyone should evaluate every action and ask himself/herself whether this particular deed pollutes the environment or not.


a. Who was Aldo Leopold? Give a brief summary/overview of his life experiences.

First of all, Aldo Leopold is the famous philosopher, environmentalist, conservationist, and writer. He was raised in Iowa where he developed his interest in nature while spending a lot of hours observing the surroundings. Having graduated from the Yale, he had joined the U. S. Forest Service in Arizona and then in New Mexico. After being transferred to the Madison, he continued his work and considerations in the field of ecology and philosophy of conservation. In 1935, Leopold and his family started their ecological experiment regarding restoration. All observations were later described by Leopold in his works. Later on, Leopold issued a book that was specifically created for the general audience. It addresses the relations of the humanity and natural world.

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b. What is the "land ethic"?

Land ethic is a concept that establishes the principles or guidelines which have to be followed by humans in their interactions with lands, animals, and nature as a whole. The primary foundation of it is represented in Leopold view, according to which, the human act is considered right if it aims at preserving the stability, beauty, and integrity of the biodiversity.

c. How can the land ethic be implemented? Give some examples.

In fact, the implementation of the land ethic will require a lot of economic investments, sacrifice, and discipline from land users. At least the landowners may repeatedly increase the quality of the soil exploited by use of the organic fertilizers. In addition, the government may introduce specific educational programs that would teach farmers how to conserve their lands and preserve their conditions.


a. Describe what is meant by "the tragedy of the commons." Give an example

“The Tragedy of the Commons” is the theory proposed by Garrett Hardin which claims that the individuals who act on their own in their best interests in fact behave in a way that contradicts long-term interests of the community (or group). Commons may consist of the parks, oceans, rivers or other resources shared by human population. Since everyone acts in his own interests in order to achieve his own personal goals, the number of resources starts to decrease. It is best shown on the example of the herdsman who can have as much cattle as he wants. It comes to him maximizing the number despite overgrazing. And it is the place where the tragedy of the commons lies, since if every herdsman starts to increase the number of his cattle which causes overgrazing, there will be no land enough to feed the cattle.

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b. What are the two fundamental ways that humans use the commons? And give an example of each. (Another way to thinks about this question: How does industry utilize the commons for two different purposes or functions? Think about the examples in the article on page 1244 and 1245)

The commons are used mainly for maintenance and work. In order to survive, human being needs a certain amount of energy that is retrieved from the natural resources. All the activities that are done without the aim of maintenance are related to work. However, the term ‘work’ refers equally to job and other activities such as running, swimming, communication, etc.

c. Why does the technique of appealing to the individual's conscience in order to prevent abuse of the commons "ultimately fail"?

Hardin considers that indeed the individual reproduction should be restrained. But he considers that appeal to the individual conscience would be ineffective since it will result in only several persons who actually have conscience. The others would act just as they want to. He states that people would appeal to those without scruples instead of the ones who have more children. Hardin doubts that conscience is totally generic and he does not consider that it is transferred through learning processes in the families.

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