Environmental ethics project

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Environmental ethics project

  1. 1. Sri Sharda Institute Of Indian Management-Research Foundation 7,Institutional Area Phase II Vasant kunj, New Delhi 110070 Tel:+91 11 26124090/91 Fax: +91 11 26124092 Email: admin.srisiim@gmail.com,dgm.cms@gmail.com Website: www.srisiim.org, www.srisiim.ac.in The Project On Environmental Management Environment EthicsSubmitted To: Submitted By:Ms. Sartaj Khera Bhanu Pratap Singh 20110105 Harshit Pathak 20110106 Batch 2011-2013 PGDM- 1st Year 1
  2. 2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT“The completion of our project depends upon the co-operation, coordination andcombined efforts of several resources of knowledge, inspiration & energy”. IAlways knew that in an organization, the work atmosphere yields enormously onan individual’s productivity and quality of work. The competence and expertise ofpeople around us at Was a factor that motivated us to strive and achieve nothingshort of perfection.We owe a great many thanks to all those, without whom this project wouldn’thave been as much a learning experience and as successful. To those, who helpedand supported us during the course of this project.My deepest sense of gratitude for Dr RITWIK DUBEY, for constant guidance,professional help and support during the course of the project, for .guiding usand helping us at all times during the project. He was the key inspirer for us andwithout his guidance this project would have been a distant reality.We thank my colleagues and friends for providing constant encouragement andhelp. We are indebted to them for their timely help & the enthusiasm theyexpressed in helping us bring this project to the fruitful end. 2
  3. 3. Environmental ethicsEnvironmental ethics is the part of environmental philosophy which considersextending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to includingthe non-human world. It exerts influence on a large range of disciplinesincluding environmental law, environmental sociology, ecotheology, ecologicaleconomics, ecology and environmental geography.There are many ethical decisions that human beings make with respect to theenvironment. For example: Should we continue to clear cut forests for the sake of human consumption? Should we continue to propagate? Should we continue to make gasoline powered vehicles? What environmental obligations do we need to keep for future generations? [1][2] Is it right for humans to knowingly cause the extinction of a species for the convenience of humanity?The academic field of environmental ethics grew up in response to the work of scientistssuch as Rachel Carson and events such as the first Earth Day in 1970, whenenvironmentalists started urging philosophers to consider the philosophical aspects ofenvironmental problems. Two papers published in Science had a crucial impact: LynnWhites "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis" (March 1967) and Garrett Hardins"The Tragedy of the Commons" (December 1968). Also influential was Garett Hardinslater essay called "Exploring New Ethics for Survival", as well as an essay by AldoLeopold in his A Sand County Almanac, called "The Land Ethic," in which Leopoldexplicitly claimed that the roots of the ecological crisis were philosophical (1949).The first international academic journals in this field emerged from North America in thelate 1970s and early 1980s – the US-based journal Environmental Ethics in 1979 andthe Canadian based journalThe Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy in 1983. The firstBritish based journal of this kind, Environmental Values, was launched in 1992.Marshalls categories of environmental ethicsThere have been a number of scholars whove tried to categorise the various ways thenatural environment is valued. Alan Marshall and Michael Smith are two recentexamples of this, as cited by Peter Vardy in "The Puzzle of Ethics".[6] For Marshall, threegeneral ethical approaches have emerged over the last 40 years. Marshall uses thefollowing terms to describe them: Libertarian Extension, the Ecologic Extension andConservation Ethics. 3
  4. 4. Libertarian extensionMarshall‟s Libertarian extension echoes a civil liberty approach (i.e. a commitment toextend equal rights to all members of a community). In environmentalism, though, thecommunity is generally thought to consist of non-humans as well as humans.Andrew Brennan was an advocate of ecologic humanism (eco-humanism), theargument that all ontological entities, animate and in-animate, can be given ethicalworth purely on the basis that they exist. The work of Arne Noses and his collaboratorSessions also falls under the libertarian extension, although they preferred the term"deep ecology". Deep ecology is the argument for the intrinsic value or inherent worth ofthe environment – the view that it is valuable in itself. Their argument, incidentally, fallsunder both the libertarian extension and the ecologic extension.Peter Singers work can be categorized under Marshalls libertarian extension. Hereasoned that the "expanding circle of moral worth" should be redrawn to include therights of non-human animals, and to not do so would be guilty of speciesism. Singerfound it difficult to accept the argument from intrinsic worth of a-biotic or "non-sentient"(non-conscious) entities, and concluded in his first edition of "Practical Ethics" that theyshould not be included in the expanding circle of moral worth.[7] This approach isessentially then, bio-centric. However, in a later edition of "Practical Ethics" after thework of Næss and Sessions, Singer admits that, although unconvinced by deepecology, the argument from intrinsic value of non-sentient entities is plausible, but atbest problematic. We shall see later that Singer actually advocated a humanist ethic.Ecologic extensionAlan Marshalls category of ecologic extension places emphasis not on human rights buton the recognition of the fundamental interdependence of all biological (and someabiological) entities and their essential diversity. Whereas Libertarian Extension can bethought of as flowing from a political reflection of the natural world, Ecologic Extensionis best thought of as a scientific reflection of the natural world. Ecological Extension isroughly the same classification of Smith‟s eco-holism, and it argues for the intrinsicvalue inherent in collective ecological entities like ecosystems or the global environmentas a whole entity. Holmes Rolston, among others, has taken this approach.This category includes James Lovelocks Gaia hypothesis; the theory that the planetearth alters its geo-physiological structure over time in order to ensure the continuationof an equilibrium of evolving organic and inorganic matter. The planet is characterizedas a unified, holistic entity with ethical worth of which the human race is of no particularsignificance in the long run. 4
  5. 5. Conservation ethicsMarshalls category of conservation ethics is an extension of use-value into the non-human biological world. It focuses only on the worth of the environment in terms of itsutility or usefulness to humans. It contrasts the intrinsic value ideas of deep ecology,hence is often referred to as shallow ecology, and generally argues for the preservationof the environment on the basis that it has extrinsic value – instrumental to the welfareof human beings. Conservation is therefore a means to an end and purely concernedwith mankind and intergenerational considerations. It could be argued that it is this ethicthat formed the underlying arguments proposed by Governments at the Kyoto summit in1997 and three agreements reached in Rio in 1992.Humanist theoriesFollowing the bio-centric and eco-holist theory distinctions, Michael Smith furtherclassifies Humanist theories as those that require a set of criteria for moral status andethical worth, such as sentience] This applies to the work of Peter Singer whoadvocated a hierarchy of value similar to the one devised by Aristotle which relies onthe ability to reason. This was Singers solution to the problem that arises whenattempting to determine the interests of a non-sentient entity such as a garden weed.Singer also advocated the preservation of "world heritage sites," unspoilt parts of theworld that acquire a "scarcity value" as they diminish over time. Their preservation is abequest for future generations as they have been inherited from our ancestors andshould be passed down to future generations so they can have the opportunity todecide whether to enjoy unspoilt countryside or an entirely urban landscape. A goodexample of a world heritage site would be the tropical rainforest, a very specialistecosystem or climatic climax vegetation that has taken centuries to evolve. Clearing therainforest for farmland often fails due to soil conditions, and once disturbed, can takethousands of years to regenerate.Applied theologyThe Christian world view sees the universe as created by God, and humankindaccountable to God for the use of the resources entrusted to humankind. Ultimatevalues are seen in the light of being valuable to God. This applies both in breadth ofscope - caring for people (Matthew 25) and environmental issues, e.g. environmentalhealth (Deuteronomy 22.8; 23.12-14) - and dynamic motivation, the love of Christcontrolling (2 Corinthians 5.14f) and dealing with the underlying spiritual disease of sin,which shows itself in selfishness and thoughtlessness. In many countries thisrelationship of accountability is symbolised at harvest thanksgiving. (B.T. Adeney :Global Ethics in New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology 1995Leicester) 5
  6. 6. AnthropocentrismAnthropocentrism simply places humans at the centre of the universe; the human racemust always be its own primary concern. It has become customary in the Westerntradition to consider only our species when considering the environmental ethics of asituation. Therefore, everything else in existence should be evaluated in terms of itsutility for us, thus committing speciesism. All environmental studies should include anassessment of the intrinsic value of non-human beings.[8] In fact, based on this veryassumption, a philosophical article has explored recently the possibility of humanswilling extinction as a gesture toward other beings.[9] The authors refer to the idea asa thought experiment that should not be understood as a call for action.What Anthropocentric theories do not allow for is the fact that a system of ethicsformulated from a human perspective may not be entirely accurate; humans are notnecessarily the centre of reality. The philosopher Baruch Spinoza argued that we tendto assess things wrongly in terms of their usefulness to us. Spinoza reasoned that if wewere to look at things objectively we would discover that everything in the universe hasa unique value. Likewise, it is possible that a human-centred oranthropocentric/androcentric ethic is not an accurate depiction of reality, and there is abigger picture that we may or may not be able to understand from a human perspective.Peter Vardy distinguished between two types of anthropocentrism. A strong thesisanthropocentric ethic argues that humans are at the center of reality and it is right forthem to be so. Weak anthropocentrism, however, argues that reality can only beinterpreted from a human point of view, thus humans have to be at the centre of realityas they see it.Another point of view has been developed by Bryan Norton, who has become one of theessential actors of environmental ethics through his launching of what has become oneof its dominant trends: environmental pragmatism. Environmental pragmatism refusesto take a stance in the dispute between the defenders of anthropocentrist ethics and thesupporters of nonanthropocentrist ethics. Instead, Norton prefers to distinguishbetween strong anthropocentrism and weak-or extended-anthropocentrism anddevelops the idea that only the latter is capable of not under-estimating the diversity ofinstrumental values that humans may derive from the natural world.Status of the fieldEnvironmental ethics became a subject of sustained academic philosophic reflection inthe 1970s. Throughout the 1980s it remained marginalized within the discipline ofphilosophy, attracting the attention of a fairly small group of thinkers spread across theworld.Only after 1990 did the field gain institutional recognition at programs such as ColoradoState, the University of Montana, Bowling Green State, and the University of North 6
  7. 7. Texas. In 1991, Schumacher College of Dartington, England, was founded and nowprovides an MSc in Holistic Science.These programs began to offer a masters degree with a specialty in environmentalethics/philosophy. Beginning in 2005 the Dept of Philosophy and Religion Studies at theUniversity of North Texas offered a PhD program with a concentration in environmentalethics/philosophy.In Germany, the University of Greifswald has recently established an internationalprogram in Landscape Ecology & Nature Conservation with a strong focus onenvironmental ethics. In 2009, theUniversity of Munich and Deutsches Museum foundedthe Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, an international,interdisciplinary center for research and education in the environmental humanities. 7
  8. 8. Environmental Ethics Of General MotorsAround 100 years ago the American Chestnut Tree was struck by a fungus that killedmost all of the trees. This month however, researchers have tweaked the genetic codeof the tree to make it sustain against the fungus that wiped it out. Researchers haveused a gene from a breed of a wheat plant that has shown resistance in trees againstsuch fungal pathogens. They plan to begin planting the trees this month in a botanicalgarden. After talking about Genetically modified seeds in class I am kind of hesistant tojump on board to this modified chesnut tree. While the tree is beautiful and is veryuseful for woodworking and construction, it makes me begin to think about what willhappen when that pathogen becomes stronger and overcomes the gene that makes thetrees survive. Will that fungus then begin to wipe out other species of trees that havenot yet been effected by it? Will this new tree pollinate with other chestnut trees thatsurvived the pathogen to start with and create a hybrid tree? It seems as though theyneed to keep this tree in the labs a little while and see exactly what kind of affects it willhave before we begin to plant in the wild.The struggle by the European biotechnology sector to persuade theauthorities in the EU to allow it to grow genetically modified organisms(GMOs) in crops could be reaching a crucial stage. For the first time since amoratorium on approvals was imposed in 1998 by a group of EU memberstates, then lifted two years ago, the EU is poised to approve a GMO productfor cultivation."If it is given the go-ahead, it will be good news for plant and industrialbiotechnology in Europe after a difficult regulatory period," says Natalie Moll,a director at the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio).However, leaders of the biotech sector in Europe concede that there is still along way to go before there is broad acceptance of GMOs in the region. Inthe middle of December, EU environment ministers rejected, by a qualifiedmajority, a move by the European Commission to order Austria to abandonits ban on the cultivation of two genetically modified types of corn. Thesehad been approved at EU level before the moratorium.Potatoes to goSeveral GMO food and feed products have been approved for marketing inthe EU since the moratorium was abandoned. Since 1998, no newgenetically engineered plants can be grown as crops in the EU on acommercial scale.The product that is due to make the big regulatory breakthrough is agenetically optimised potato developed by BASF, called Amflora. Itproduces pure amylopectin starch for application in the paper, textile andadhesives industries. 8
  9. 9. Its approval will be particularly significant for the progress of the fledglingwhite or industrial biotech segment in Europe, which hopes to usebiotechnology to make chemicals and chemical feedstocks.Amflora will be cultivated as a non-food crop. But it is still receiving abacklash from the deeply entrenched opposition to GMOs among largesections of the EU public, farmers and politicians.When the proposed approval of the potato was debated in December by theEUs standing committee on GMOs, representing experts from thegovernments of the 25 member states, it failed to gain the support of aqualified majority of its 321 members.Instead, Amflora managed to gather the backing of only 42% of thecommittee, well short of the necessary 72% majority. The dossier on thepotato was next due to be passed to the Council of Ministers, comprisingmembers of all the EU governments.If, as seems likely, it is again unable to achieve a qualified majority in theCouncil, the decision on its future is then transferred to the EuropeanCommission. The EU executive will almost certainly approve the potato,since it has already recommended that the potatos cultivation be allowed.BASF is hoping that the Commissions consent will come in time for Amflorato be cultivated in time for a market launch this year.The Commission will be merely doing what it has been doing since themoratorium was lifted. All approvals since then have failed to gain a qualifiedmajority in both the standing committee and the Council, leaving the go-ahead to be given by the Commission."The approval procedure is not working properly," says Moll. "It could be along time before it is operating smoothly, although the biotechnologyindustry is hoping that the present problems can be resolved as soon aspossible."The political opposition to GMOs in the EU comes mainly from eight countries- Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg andPoland. Between them, they can muster enough votes to block approvals.The states with the most supportive attitude to GMOs are the Netherlands,Sweden, the UK and, lately, Germany, following the departure of the Greensfrom the countrys government. Ireland and Spains backing for greenbiotechnology appears to have cooled.Public versus farmersA firm majority in favour of GMOs among the EUs member states, whichexpanded to 27 in January with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, isunlikely to emerge until there has been a significant waning in hostilityamong the public and farmers in Europe. 9
  10. 10. Most of the politically influential antipathy to genetic engineering inagriculture comes, however, from farmers, who want to safeguard what theyregard as the exclusive quality of their food crops."Ultimately, the current opposition to GMOs in certain EU countries isprotectionist," says one European biotechnology consultant. "Italy, forexample, will have nothing to do with GMOs. Research into plant geneticengineering is virtually banned there. The country has a system of controlson the source of specialty foods, which is important to farmers. They feel itwill be destroyed if GMOs are allowed."He adds: "Poland is opposed to gene technology because of its largenumbers of small farmers, who are big suppliers of organic food to the restof Europe."BASFs Amflora potato should not be regarded as a threat to the food sectorbecause it will be cultivated solely for industrial and technical applications."Since potatoes do not have wild relatives in Europe and are propagated bytubers, not seeds, it is extremely unlikely that out-crossing (the transfer ofgenes to other plants) will take place," Thorsten Storck, global projectmanager at BASF Plant Science, told a science conference at Ludwigshafen,Germany, in November 2006.The GM product does not have the normal mixture of amylopectin andamylose, which are the two components of starch in conventional potatoes.In industrial processes, potato starch is superior to wheat and corn starchbecause it has a higher molecular weight and a lower fat and proteincontent. However, the required functional properties all come from theamylopectin because it has thickening qualities, as well as high viscosity,stability and clarity. Potato starch has to be chemically modified to eliminatethe gelling effects of amylose.Instead of having the usual 80:20 combination of amylopectin and amylose,the Amflora potato contains only amylopectin in its starch."The potato will be produced solely under contract farming conditions," saidStorck. "Amflora will not be made available on the general market."He continued: "It is a product that is designed for the European market. Innon-European countries, corn starch is mainly used for industrialapplications. Of the 2.5m tonnes of potato starch used annually in the world,2m tonnes are made in Europe." 10
  11. 11. Problem aheadOne possible problem still facing BASF, even after it gains EU approval, couldbe the lack of practical co-existence rules on the cultivation of GM plants inindividual countries. These should lay down minimum distances between GMand non-GM crops. A green biotechnology supporter, such as the UKgovernment, has only recently completed a consultation exercise on thedrawing-up of co-existence regulations."Some countries are leaving it to regional authorities to issue co-existencerules," says Moll. "As a result, we are getting a wide range of regulatorydistances, with some 500m or more when scientific studies show [that]20m-25m is sufficient, depending on the crop."When they refused to back a proposal by the Commission to lift a ban byAustria on the growing of two genetically engineered maize varieties, EUenvironment ministers reaffirmed the right of countries to take into account"different agricultural structures and regional ecological characteristics"when assessing the risks of GMOs.Agreement among EU member states that governments should be entitled todecide for themselves the conditions under which GMOs should be grown islikely to remain a major hurdle to the widespread cultivation of geneticallymodified crops in Europe for the foreseeable future. 11
  12. 12. Environmental EthicsCase Studies: An ArchiveShould the Humpback Chub be Saved?Ian A. SmithMetropolitan State College of Denver[Adapted from Smith‟s “The Role of Humility and Intrinsic Goods in PreservingEndangered Species: Why Preserve the Humpback Chub?” Environmental Ethics Vol.32 No. 2 (Summer): 165-182. Copyright 2010.]In the western United States, environmental groups like the Glen Canyon Institute haveworked tirelessly to save several species of endangered fish along the Colorado River,including the humpback chub (Gila cypha). Partly on the basis of wanting to save theseendangered fish species, the Institute has advocated that the Glen Canyon Dam in theColorado River Basin be decommissioned. Without the dam, the Colorado River willwarm up and become muddy again in Glen Canyon, which is good for the endangeredfish species. However, removal of the dam is bad for the introduced fish species of theriver, such as the striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and walleye whichprefer cool, clear waters that the dam has been able to provide.If the Institute is successful in having the dam decommissioned, then Lake Powell(which Glen Canyon dam created) and the associated tail waters of Lees Ferry, withtheir burgeoning introduced fisheries, will cease to be fisheries any longer. This is aneconomic disadvantage to decommissioning the dam – others include a severereduction in tourism in the area, as the main source of tourism in the area is Lake 12
  13. 13. Powell, and the obvious loss of a massive water storage area in the form of LakePowell.Critics of the humpback chub‟s preservation point to these kinds of economicdisadvantages to saving the chub via decommissioning the dam. They are alsoconcerned that current efforts to save the chub are wasted, and so point to furthereconomic costs of trying to save the chub. The Native Fish Work Group (NFWG), agroup founded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, is charged with saving thehumpback and other endemic endangered species of the Colorado River fromextinction. Their methodology is as follows: mature fish are bred at a hatchery, and theresulting hatchlings are transferred to various ponds in the Las Vegas area. Once thesefish reach maturity, they are transferred back to the Colorado where they attempt toreproduce. Unfortunately, the transferred fish are hardly ever able to produce offspringthat themselves survive to reach maturity and then reproduce on their own. This isbecause the offspring are eaten by introduced fish such as trout, bass, and walleye.Consequently, the NFWG as it currently exists does not work to satisfy its stated aim ofsaving the humpback chub (Chessa, 2005). And so whatever money it takes to run theprogram is wasted. In fact, it is hard to see how the chub will do well in the futurewithout the removal of the introduced species in question.Continuing with their criticism, critics ask, “What good is it, anyway?” These critics areasking the environmentalists who wish to save the humpback chub what instrumentalvalue the humpback chub has, that is, what value it has as a means to an end of someother entity. Canvassing instrumental reasons for why we might preserve the humpbackchub, we seem to find none, the critic may argue. The kinds of instrumental value thatthe critic may consider are aesthetic value, ecosystemic value, and economic value.Considering aesthetic value first, a critic may say that the humpback chub probablydoes not strike us as “cute,” or magnificent, or in possession of any other pleasingaesthetic characteristic, so a claim that it had any aesthetic value would be met withimmediate skepticism. Or, in the parlance of biologists, the humpback chub is not one of 13
  14. 14. the charismatic megafauna, like species of bear, whale, and cheetah that seem to haveobvious aesthetic value.A critic may also point out that the chub does not seem to have ecosystemic value. Oneway of broadly defining ecosystemic value is that it is the contribution a species makesto the functioning of the trophic structure (food web) of which the species is a part. Oneclear way that a species could have value in this way is if some other species within theecosystem in question would be adversely affected if it became extinct. When posedwith the question of whether the humpback chub has value in this sense, an expert onthe recovery of the chub, Dr. Robert Muth, Director of the Upper Colorado RiverEndangered Fish Recovery Program of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said that the chubhas no such value. His assessment was that the current trophic structure that the chubis a part has not been significantly changed as a result of its being in the process ofbecoming extinct, and is not expected to be significantly changed once it does becomeextinct, and so no other species have been or are expected to be significantly affectedin an adverse way.Additionally, the critic may point out that the humpback chub has no clear economicvalue. One clear way that the chub could have instrumental economic value is if it isused as a food source. Though it was true that the humpback chub and otherendangered minnow species in the Colorado River Basin were once used as food byboth Native Americans and early pioneers, the introduction of more desired speciessuch as the trout have eliminated any interest in eating these minnow species.In response to the claim that the humpback chub has no clear instrumental value, theproponent of its preservation could shift the terms of the debate. When asked thequestion “What good is it, anyway?” the preservationist could turn the question aroundon the critic and ask, “What good are you, anyway?” The critic would regard thisquestion as missing something. People see themselves as being valuable not only in aninstrumental way, but also in an intrinsic (or inherent) way. That is, even though peoplesee themselves as being valuable in various ways to family, friends, and colleagues, 14
  15. 15. they view themselves as having value that exceeds and is distinct from theirinstrumental value. People, in short, see themselves as possessing value as ends-in-themselves, value that is not for the sake of anyone or anything else.With the question “What good are you, anyway?” preservationists could try to show thatasking whether something has just instrumental value misses something, namely thatthe thing in question might also have intrinsic value. If the humpback chub has intrinsicvalue, then having this value could help to show that the chub should be preserved.Several environmental ethicists have developed accounts of species‟ intrinsic value.Beginning with an overview of Lawrence Johnson‟s account, Johnson generates anargument for the intrinsic value of species by starting with the claim that individualhuman beings have intrinsic value, and then investigates whether the reasons offeredfor that claim apply to species (Johnson 1991, 1992). Johnson answers the question ofwhat makes a human being have intrinsic value by saying that it is the possession ofwell-being interests that makes an entity have such value. Well-being interests arethose that conduce to the effective integrated functioning of an entity. Johnson arguesthat species have such well-being interests, and thus have intrinsic value.J. Baird Callicott saw in David Hume, Charles Darwin, and Aldo Leopold asociobiological account of why we humans intrinsically value others, or, alternatively,how others have intrinsic value (Callicott 1989, 1999). This story is about how our other-regarding sentiments like sympathy evolved to care first about our kin, then to careabout nonkin, and then to care about whole nations. Callicott saw that this story ofintrinsically valuing ourselves, others, and whole nations could be extended tointrinsically valuing other individual organisms, species, biological communities, andeven the land that helps sustain those communities, for he believes that our other-regarding sentiments can be focused onto aspects of nature as well. 15
  16. 16. Giving a final overview of an account of species‟ intrinsic value, Callicott (1992, p. 133-34) gives a concise outline of one offered by the father of environmental ethics, HolmesRolston:“…organisms defend their „own kind as a good kind.‟ By this he [Rolston] means that allorganisms…actively defend their lives, and strive to propagate their own species. Eachorganism has a telos, a built-in end…. Thus, each is an end in itself. Each, therefore,has a good of its own. This claim, that all organisms are ends in themselves with goodsof their own, may be what we choose to mean by saying that they are intrinsicallyvaluable.... Species and ecosystems also…possess Rolstonian intrinsic value. Eachorganism „re-presents‟ its species. Each is a token of its type. Its type is indeed itstelos, just as Aristotle would have it. Each strives to be a good of its kind, and somesucceed better than others. Remember Rolston‟s key formula...: all organisms defendtheir “own kind as a good kind.” Hence, kinds – species – also have intrinsic value.”The Ann Arbor Greenbelt Project and Property RightsIn 2003, the voters of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the City of Ann Arbor approved a 30-yearproperty tax increase to preserve open space and farmland at the City‟s periphery. Themileage that funds the Greenbelt Program is expected to generate $84 million over 30years. The program so far has preserved 703 acres at the cost of $11.26 million.Although it is still too early to tell whether they will have had merit, the promises ofgreenbelt advocates are attractive. More parkland and an end to urban “sprawl” top thelist. With growth focused inside the greenbelt, the argument goes, densities will rise toa level that can efficiently support mass transit, thereby reducing every ill from airpollution to road congestion. Higher densities, too, claim supporters, also provide moreopportunities to walk and bicycle.Greenbelt detractors, on the other hand, have grave concerns about the equity of theprogram. They argue that reducing the acreage of land available for residentialdevelopment will negatively affect the inventory of affordable housing in an area already 16
  17. 17. notorious for its high housing costs. “Anything that increases the value of real propertyis great if you already have a piece of the pie,” one citizen complained at a recent publicforum on the progress of the Greenbelt Program. She was particularly concernedbecause the Greenbelt amenity will mainly abut high-income areas of the City, makingalready highly desirable properties even more valuable. “Same old story. The rich getricher.” More troubling to Isadore Freeman, a longtime resident of Pittsfield Township, isthe inequity, as he sees it, of curtailing commercial and industrial growth just when it isarriving in Pittsfield. “We have been waiting years to benefit from that growth! Theelitist swine across Ellsworth Road don‟t care a nickel about us.”Pittsfield Township, especially when compared with Ann Arbor, is not affluent and manyresidents struggle financially. The growth of its tax base has not kept up with its needsfor services and employment opportunities have mostly been quite distant for residentsof Pittsfield. “Just when we expected our roads to be fixed, they shut off the tap. Howfair is that?” The swine, as it were, contend that the City plans to purchase property anddevelopment rights for the greenbelt on the open market. “If there is demand for aWalmart way out there, then Sam Walton can buy it out from under us,” an unnamedsource in the City administration explained. Of course, that assumes that the City doeswhat the City plans. The possibility that the City may use its eminent domain powersprovides an incentive for landowners in the path of the greenbelt to sell to the City andfor developers to look elsewhere for property. Also, those not wishing to sell are likely tocut the best deal now, rather than later risk the chance that the ordered selling pricefrom condemnation will be lower. Even without the threat of condemnation, there arenot many able to compete with the purchasing power of Ann Arbor‟s program, SamWalton not withstanding.Interestingly, it is no longer just the purchasing power of Ann Arbor taxpayers thatopponents of the Greenbelt must face, but also the dollars from their own pocketbooks.Recently, the US Department of Agriculture anted up $335,000 from its Farm andRanchland Protection Program to subsidize the Greenbelt Program. 17
  18. 18. Water, the West, and Our Changing Climate: Political and EthicalChallengesWater is the central limiting resource of the Western United States, the source a uniqueand elaborate body of law, the site of extensive dams and development, and the centerof a history of divisive politics of the West. For the past 100 years, water has beendeveloped to serve largely narrow utilitarian ends: agriculture, mining, and the ever-growing population of the West. Today, a new challenge faces those who manage andplan for water in the west: climate change. Scientists and engineers, as well as theNOAA, are already documenting change and planning for the stresses water variabilityand shortages might place on users in desert states such as Utah, New Mexico, andArizona.However, in western states with a libertarian bent, the law and politics of water and thepolitics of climate change make an especially heady mix. The very claim that warming ishappening, not to mention that it is caused by anthropogenic activities, has dividedpoliticians and scientists, policy makers and activists, along partisan lines. Many ofthose with the most power in state and local governments regard climate changeabatement measures as a challenge to “western” values of liberty and free enterprise.Moreover, states are deeply divided because of a long history of tension over rights towater – from the headwaters of the Colorado to Mexico.Scientists, lawyers, water users, stakeholders, leaders of environmental organizations,and leaders in state and local government have very different perceptions about theextent and nature of risks due to climate change, and how to address these risks. Thesedifferences in knowledge and perception will no doubt have substantial repercussionsfor water use and availability in the future.The object of this case study is first, to summarize the state of climate science,particularly, it‟s potential impacts on water resources in the west. Second, we will reflecton the political, social and logistical complications that these changes will bring for 18
  19. 19. planning for water in the West. Third and finally, the object is to try to map out thecauses of these very different perceptions, suggest ways in which scientists and policymakers might better communicate, about our values in planning for water resources, aswell as our shared obligations in responsibility for non-human animals, ecosystems, andfuture generations.Climate Science and the West: A SummaryThere are, broadly speaking, three central challenges that climate change may presentwith respect to water in the West. First, variability in climate will increase; this means,roughly, that extremes temperature and precipitation will occur more often, and weatherin general will be less predictable.According to scientists at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association), infact, this has already occurred on a local level. Models used to predict local weather inUtah, though they are always periodically updated, have had to be updated sooner thanexpected. According to Brian McInerny, Senior Service Hydrologist at the NOAA: “We‟reseeing that [lots of precipitation] right now: it‟s harder to forecast river flows because thespring weather is more variable. It‟s different from average… if you use statisticalmeans for forecast stream flows, you can look at the past, and predict the future. But ifyou change air mass composition and temperature is different, using [that] methoddoesn‟t work … we are going to shift now to 81-2011 for the 30-year average. Whenyou do that, your window has moved into more of a climate change regime, so thetemperatures are warmer, so your averages are going to be higher. Nighttime lows aremuch higher.”In other words, the models that the NOAA are now using as a baseline for weatherforecasts in the mountain west have had to be shifted “up” to the most recent window oftime, in order to incorporate the new variability. 19
  20. 20. The second challenge (at least at Northern latitudes) will be higher precipitation, fallinglargely as rain, rather than snow. According to Thomas Reichler, a Professor ofMeteorology at the University of Utah: “There will be on the order of 10% increases inprecipitation in winter over northern Utah, and roughly 10% decrease in summer. Thosechanges become smaller as you go toward the south.” Precipitation increase is tied toincreases in temperature. Reichler estimates that temperature increases will be “on theorder of 5 deg. F. The seasonal differences are not so large, in terms of temperatures –basically it just gets warmer, in winter as well as summer.”Jim Steenbergh, Professor of Meteorology at University of Utah adds, “We have a rangeof scenarios for the next 100 years. Most of the climate modes predict warming in the 3-9 degree range over the next 100 years.” With higher average temperatures, moreprecipitation will fall as rain than snow, and there will, on average, be higher runoff fromthe Wasatch Range, for example, earlier in the spring season.In summary, according to Steenbergh, “The changes in temperature we can expect inthe next 50-100 years are much larger than anything that‟s occurred since humans havesettled here, even before Native Americans were on the land. So, we‟re looking at apretty big change in terms of the climate of the state.”Third and finally, and perhaps much more concerning, are what have been dubbed“mega-droughts.” According to Rob Gillies, Utah‟s State Climatologist and Professor atUtah State University: “…with climate change, the projections for Utah are that we‟regoing into more extended droughts, of the like that happened in the past with theAnasazi... We going to look at the paleo records – from the tree rings, we look at thecycles of drought. From the data that we now have – we see that there is a cycle everythree years, seven years, and one every 25 years.” 20
  21. 21. Reichler explains that these are droughts on a scale that we‟ve not seen in the WesternUnited States since occupied by Europeans: “There have been some paleoclimatestudies trying to measure from proxy data – like from tree rings – trying to reconstructthe hydroclimate over the last 1000 years. They find that … the last drought that we hadover the last 6 years – these events were more common than we originally thought inthe very distant past – like over the last 1000 years. And, I think that this is what theydubbed a mega-drought.”He continues, “Hydrologists usually prepare dams and reservoirs and so on for eventsthat occur maybe once in 100 years – probably because they have an observationalrecord that goes back 100 years. And, they think, maybe that‟s something that mayhappen in the future in again. Of course, if you wait long enough, there may happensomething that occurs only once every 1000 years. And, you don‟t know when that mayhappen.”Steenbergh explains: “That‟s actually my biggest concern, for at least the rest of mylifetime, is the potential that we see one of these mega-droughts. That would, I say, bethe biggest risk we have, in terms of our natural water flows. Over time, that climatechange signal will be important. But, between now and 2050, the mega-drought ispossibly the biggest issue. But, whether or not we get it in the next fifty years is atougher call to make… You‟re talking about a situation where it‟s very difficult torecharge reservoirs for many years. In the past, when we‟ve gotten into these droughtsover a few years in the past, the reservoir storage goes down, and, the reservoirs dotheir job. That‟s what they‟re built for – to smooth out the climate system. And, ofcourse we all know that Lake Powell is reaching terribly low values. But we haven‟treached anything nearly as bad as what we see in the tree ring record. So, we‟reseeing a situation where our water resources would be stretched to the maximum.”In sum, there are three problems: what I‟ll call the merely “complicating” and the “zero- 21
  22. 22. sum” problems associated with climate change in the west. Complicating problemsinclude variability and unpredictability in climate and precipitation, higher temperatures,less precipitation as snow, and consequently, higher run off earlier in the season. Oneof the major effects of climate change and increased temperatures will be increasedevaporation and evapotranspiration rates. Reservoirs evaporate large amounts of water.Also, ecosystems moving north may affect water variability and distribution.Zero-sum problems are problems where the outcome is irreversible and on a vast scale;these include droughts on a major scale, droughts that require radical reconsideration ofwater use in the West. Such droughts have occurred in the past, and indeed, can bepredicted for an arid state like Utah on a regular cycle, though, of course, predictingsuch “zero-sum” events is a challenge.This leads one naturally to the question of uncertainties about the science, both ofclimate and water. It‟s important to clarify two distinct senses of uncertainty: what I‟ll callmere statistical or “magnitude” uncertainty and genuine scientific controversy. There areample statistical uncertainties surrounding the modeling of climate and water resources.Thetrends described above, however, are not a matter of scientific controversy,according to almost every professional meteorologist in the U.S.Jim Steenbergh explains: “We already have warming in the pipeline no matter what wedo today. There‟s no scenario, that I can imagine, where we‟re going to start to getgreenhouse gas emissions down to a very low level for at least a few decades. So, weknow it‟s coming, and adaptation should enter into the policy mix. We should prepare forthat. I don‟t think it‟s a burden of proof issue.”So, what are the uncertainties in question? First, there are uncertainties concerning theextent of variability and how it will affect the west. How extreme the change oftemperature will be, and how that changes 22
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