Hello dear readers!
On my 3rd post of this blog, Dr Coleman left a comment, asking me to pay attention to Week 10’s lessons on environmental ethics.
Well, Week 10 is over.
I won’t go into the topic’s details (because that would be my classmate Anlydia’s job), but will instead share some thoughts and attempt to connect my learnings with my blog’s focus – human behaviour for a greener future. Let me know what you think in the comments below! ^-^
Honestly, being exposed to the controversies and conflicts arising from different lines of ethical thinking – with no right or wrong answer – was emotionally draining. How can we know if the lives of all animal species should be valued equally? It didn’t help that I was lacking sleep. I’m not surprised if I subconsciously shut out some important information from class (sorry Dr Coleman).
That experience, however, did make me realise that an in-depth conversation about environmental ethics was not something to have with some of my “informed but idle” friends. At least, not for a start. The topic’s many arguments and inconclusive nature require mental energy to deal with. Referencing last week’s post, that won’t help encourage people to make lifestyle changes as it may cause “exhaustion” (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010, p. 9-12, 17).
Furthermore, it may evoke feelings of intimidation and despair. According to Switch, negative emotions may help in solving problems with clear-cut solutions (think about getting caught in the rain), but positive feelings fare better when you need out-of-the-box thinking (p. 121). Year 2 BES student Komal echoed a similar caution against negative sentiments in her blog post. With many other demoralising factors such as our current slow progress and the problem’s sheer scale, this article on environmental ethics also concludes with a warning against believing all efforts will be futile and giving up.
So should we ignore environmental ethics?
I don’t think so. I’ve learnt this week that many large-scale environmental issues inevitably involve decisions which sit at the crossroads of various ethical principles. Anlydia explained to me that there’s no “correct ethic” either. Rather, being able to appreciate the various ethics will hopefully help when working together with people who have these different views and when tackling the issues themselves.
Dr Coleman said that preparing for Week 10’s lessons convinced her to drop the following viewpoint, quoted from the article I discussed in the 3rd blog post:
“ ‘Remember, the atmosphere doesn’t care what people believe, it responds to emissions,’ Hassol adds.”
I think Hassol’s statement still holds, without undermining the significance of environmental ethics. If there are ways to reduce our environmental impact, without getting into the mess of differing opinions, wouldn’t those be worth working towards? Of course, we cannot avoid the ugly dilemmas in trying to solve this whole crisis. But, as the Heath brothers put it in Switch (p. 255),
“Small changes can snowball to big changes.”
Even if it’s just raising awareness and hope, some headway is better than none at all.
Until the next post, thanks for reading!
Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard. New York, NY: Broadway Books.