Establishing an environmental ethic is of utmost concern to the human species tobetter comprehend our place in the world and our potentials for the future. Indoing so, we must extend our thinking of rights and responsibilities. I believewe must incorporate not only a temporal component, but also a spatialunderstanding of the world as an organic biotic community and how consumption isa part of the natural order. Aldo Leopold believes that conservation ethics mustbe rooted in a determination: "A thing is right when it tends to preservethe integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
It is wrong whenit tends otherwise. " I would like to start with Leopold’s statement, andfurther explore how the definitions of integrity, stability and beauty can bebetter understood given three corollary’s: 1. All organic entities must consumeto survive it is not only a right, but a responsibility 2. There are limitedresources to be consumed by organic entities on the planet 3. The human specieshas the ability, through rational thought, to conserve ever-depleting resourcesLeopold’s ethic attempts to extend what is of human, moral concern to includeanimals, ecosystems, and endangered species. How can this concern be expressedin today’s society? I see one problem with this argument in that there is littlediscussion about power and influence that is inherent in current definitions ofrights.Order now
Therefore, I will introduce the notion that organic entities, those thatdepend on the consumption of energy for survival, must retain the right toconsume resources to survive. Notions of right and wrong now have no standing it is a fact that organic entities must consume to maintain life. I willturn to Callicott for some discussion of limits and to the Second Law ofThermodynamics as a moral decree to conservation. The resources for survival arediverse and limited, and we must explore more fully the components of a bioticcommunity as a whole to explore our moral limits.
Community components Organicentities exist (i. e. live) in an interdependent organic community. Thisviewpoint will examine components of the world which are necessary to maintainorganic life. Biological entities are not the only things that requireconsumption in these organic communities: Fire consumes oxygen as well asorganic entities, the atmosphere consumes radiation from the sun, water consumesthrough the removal of essential oxygen to those that require it, and the earthconsumes through convection.
The earth, itself, does nothing more than recycleenergy. Inorganic earth, water and air are also methods of transportation withinthe consumption community. Temporally, to better understand theinterconnectedness with other entities we must look at humanities historythrough the ancestry of the land. Leopold described the rings on a fallen treeto show where, at different points in time, it may have been affected by otherforces of consumption. We can see this in a ring that is charred black due to afire over one hundred years ago, or where romantic lovers etched their names inits sturdy frame. However, when we examine things at the microscopic level, arich picture emerges that relates our biological history with nature.
Leopoldwrites of this through the Odyssey of "Particle X": In the flash of acentury the rock decayed, and X was pulled out and up into a world of livingthings. He helped build a flower, which became an acorn, which fattened a deerwhich fed an Indian, all in a single year. The human sensory methods ofdiscovery tend to miss many relationships between organic entities. We tend tomiss a lot of things when we are not actually living in nature as well.
Themodern market-driven consumer society is very different from the consumercommunity of the totality of organic entities on the earth and quitepossible less complex. We tend not only to consume resources, but technologyallows us to build things that consume resources just in the production processitself. These, in turn, produce forms of energy that can then be consumed byhuman beings as a species. Finite energy resources Up until now, I haveneglected the inorganic life that abounds on the planet. I will now turn to theSecond Law of Thermodynamics which states that in any closed system, entropy isalways increasing. Organic entities require energy for survival, and entropy,which is a measure of the amount of energy unavailable for work during a naturalprocess, is constantly increasing.
That is, the more we consume, the more wasteis produced that is .