Chapter 6 pdf


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Lecture Outlines

Chapter 6 Environmental
Ethics and Economics


The Science behind the Stories

4th Edition


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Commercially valuable uranium deposits in Australia
occur on sacred Aboriginal land

The Mirrar oppose the mine for economic, social,
cultural, spiritual, ethical, and health reasons

Despite the economic benefits of jobs, income,
development, and a higher standard of living

Central Case: The Mirrar Clan Confronts the
Jabiluka Uranium Mine

Mining options may be
revisited due to increased
uranium prices

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Culture and worldviews affect perceptions

The landscape is a sacred text to
Australian Aborigines

Holding their beliefs and values

Equal to the Christian Bible or
Islamic Koran

Spirit ancestors leave signs and
lessons in the landscape

Aborigines construct mental
maps of their surroundings in

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Culture and worldview

Our relationship with the environment depends on
assessments of costs and benefits

But culture and worldview also affect this relationship


= knowledge, beliefs, values, and learned ways
of life shared by a group of people


= a person’s or group’s beliefs about the
meaning, operation, and essence of the world

People draw dramatically different conclusions about
a situation based on their worldviews

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Many factors shape worldviews

Religious and spiritual beliefs shape our worldview
and perception of the environment

Community experiences shape attitudes

Political ideology: government’s role in protecting
the environment


Vested interest

= the strong interest of an individual
in the outcome of a decision

Results in gain or loss for that individual

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Environmental ethics


= the study of good and bad, right and wrong

Moral principles or values held by a person or society

Promoting human welfare, maximizing freedom,
minimizing pain and suffering


= ethics varies with social context


= right and wrong remains the same
across cultures and situations

Ethics is a
prescriptive pursuit
: it tells us how we




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Ethical standards: judging right and wrong

Ethical standards

= criteria that help differentiate right
from wrong

Categorical imperative
: the golden rule

Most world religions teach this same lesson

How would you feel if your sacred homeland was
defiled with a uranium mine?

Principle of utility

= something right produces the most
practical benefits for the most people

A uranium mine could benefit thousands of people

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We value things in two ways


: valuing something for
its pragmatic benefits by using it

Animals are valuable because we can eat them


: valuing something for its own
sake because it has a right to exist

Animals are valuable because they live their own lives

Things can have both instrumental and intrinsic value

But different people emphasize different values

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Environmental ethics

Environmental ethics

= application of ethical standards
to relationships between human and nonhuman entities

Hard to resolve: it depends on the person’s ethical
standards and domain of ethical concern

Should we save
resources for future

Is it OK for some
communities to be exposed
to more pollution?

Should humans drive
other species to

When is it OK to destroy a
forest to create jobs?

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We have expanded our ethical consideration

People have granted intrinsic value and ethical
consideration to more and more people and things

Including animals, communities, and nature

Animal rights activists voice concern for animals that
are hunted, raised in pens, or used for testing

Rising economic prosperity broadens our ethical domain

Science shows people are part of nature

All organisms are interconnected

Many non
Western cultures often have broader ethical

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Three ethical perspectives

= only humans have intrinsic value


= some nonhuman life has intrinsic value


= whole ecological systems have value

A holistic perspective that preserves connections

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History of environmental ethics

Christianity’s attitude toward the environment:
anthropocentric hostility or stewardship?

The Industrial Revolution increased consumption and


= nature is a manifestation of the

People need to experience nature

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau’s




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The preservation ethic

Unspoiled nature should be

for its own intrinsic value

John Muir

had an


He was a tireless advocate

for wilderness

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The conservation ethic

Use natural resources wisely for the greatest good for the
most people (the utilitarian standard

―Wise Use‖

Gifford Pinchot had an anthropocentric viewpoint

“Conservation means the wise use of the earth and its
resources for the lasting good of men”

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The land ethic

Healthy ecological systems

depend on protecting all


Aldo Leopold believed

the land ethic changes

the role of people from

conquerors of the land to

citizens of it

The land ethic can help

guide decision making

We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us.
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may
begin to use it with love and respect.”

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Deep ecology, ecofeminism, and justice

Some scholars feel that male
dominated societies cause
both social and environmental problems

Domination and competition degrade women and the


= the female worldview interprets the
world through interrelationships and cooperation

More compatible with nature

Environmental justice

= the fair and equitable treatment
of all people regarding environmental issues

The poor and minorities have less information, power,
and money

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Environmental justice (EJ)

The poor and minorities are exposed to more pollution,
hazards, and environmental degradation

North Carolina wanted to put a toxic waste site in the
county with the highest percentage of African Americans

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Significant inequities still remain

Significant inequities remain despite progress toward
racial equality

Economic gaps between rich and poor have widened

Minorities and the poor still suffer substandard
environmental conditions

Poor Latino farm workers in California suffer from
unregulated air pollution (dairy and pesticide emissions)

Organized groups convinced regulators to enforce the
Clean Air Act and state legislatures to pass new laws



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Environmental justice and Hurricane Katrina

People most affected by the hurricane and its aftermath
were poor and nonwhite

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Environmental justice: an international issue

Wealthy nations impose pollution on poorer nations

Hazardous waste is expensive to dispose of

Companies pay poor nations to take the waste

It is dumped illegally

It may be falsely labeled as harmless or beneficial

Workers are uninformed or unprotected

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The environment vs. economics

Is there a trade
off between economics and the

People say protection costs too much money, interferes
with progress, or causes job loses

But environmental protection is good for the economy

Traditional economic thought ignores or underestimates
contributions of the environment to the economy

Human economies

on the environment

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Uranium mining: ethics vs. economics

Uranium mining provides jobs and income

Unemployment is above 16% among Aborigines

20% of mine employees are Aboriginal

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studies how people use resources to provide
goods and services in the face of demand

Most environmental and economic problems are linked

meaning ―household,‖ gave rise to both



= a social system that converts resources into:

: manufactured materials that are bought, and

: work done for others as a form of business

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Types of modern economies

Subsistence economy
= people get their daily needs
directly from nature or their own production

They do not purchase or trade products

Capitalist market economy

= buyers and sellers interact
to determine prices and production of goods and services

Centrally planned economy

= the government
determines how to allocate resources

Mixed economy

= governments intervene to some extent

Unregulated financial practices caused the
2009/current recession



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Governments intervene in a market economy

Even in mixed market economies, governments
intervene to:

Eliminate unfair advantages held by single buyers or

Provide social services (national defense, medical
care, education)

Provide safety nets for elderly, disaster victims, etc.

Manage the commons

Mitigate pollution and other threats to health and
quality of life

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The economy exists within the environment

Economies receive inputs

Process them

Discharge outputs (waste)

Traditional economics

Ignores the environment

Resources are ―limitless‖

Wastes are absorbed at no

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Environmental view of economics

Human economies exist within, and depend on, the
environment for goods and services

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Environmental systems support economies

Environmental goods = natural resources (sun’s energy,
water, trees, rocks, fossil fuels)

Ecosystem services

= essential services support the life
that makes economic activities possible

Soil formation


Water purification

Nutrient cycling

Climate regulation

Waste treatment

Economic activities affect the environment

Depleting natural resources, generating pollution

15 of 24 ecosystem services are being degraded or
used unsustainably

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Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”

Classical economics
: when people pursue economic
interest in a competitive marketplace

The market is guided by an ―invisible hand‖

Society benefits

This idea is a pillar of free
market thought today

It is also blamed for economic inequality between
rich and poor

Critics feel that market capitalism promotes
environmental degradation



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Neoclassical economics includes psychology

What psychological factors
underlie consumer choices?

Market prices reflect


Buyers vs. sellers

The ―right‖ quantities of a
product are produced

―Optimal‖ levels of
pollution, resource use

The market favors equilibrium between supply and demand

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benefit analysis

benefit analysis

= costs of a proposed action are
compared to benefits that result from the action

If benefits > costs: pursue the action

benefit analysis is controversial: not all costs and
benefits can be identified or defined

It is easy to quantify wages paid to miners

But hard to assess the cost of a scarred landscape

Monetary benefits are overrepresented

Analysis is biased in favor of economic development

Biased against environmental protection

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economics: positive aspects

Capitalist market systems operate according to
neoclassical economics

Enormous wealth and jobs are generated

Environmental problems are also created

Four Assumptions
of neoclassical economics:

Resources are infinite or substitutable

Costs and benefits are internal

term effects are discounted

Growth is good

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Some resources are unique and can’t be replaced.

Many environmental problems develop slowly
and affect future generations.

Costs and benefits of a transaction affect people
other than the buyer or seller (
external costs

Taxpayers clean up pollution.

The ―pie‖ can’t grow infinitely.

Economic growth is the yardstick that measures

Neoclassical economics: negative aspects

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People suffer external costs

External costs include water pollution, health problems,
property damage, and harm to other organism

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Some examples of externalities

External costs
: borne by
someone not involved in a

Hard to account for and

Human health

Property damage

Declines in desirable elements

Aesthetic damage

Stress and anxiety

Declining real estate values



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We live in a growth
oriented economy

Growth is used to measure progress

All economic growth is seen as good and necessary

Economic growth is

good news

Modern global economic growth is unprecedented

Higher trade, production, amount and value of goods

The United States has a ―more and bigger‖ attitude

Americans are in a frenzy of consumption

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The dramatic rise in per
person consumption has severe
environmental consequences

Is the growth paradigm good for us?

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Can growth go on forever?

Economic growth comes from:

Increased inputs (labor, natural resources)

Economic development = improved efficiency of
production (technology, ideas, equipment)

Uncontrolled economic growth is unsustainable

Technology can push back limits, but not forever

Efficient resource extraction and production
perpetuate the illusion that resources are unlimited

Many economists believe technology can solve anything

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Cornucopians vs. Cassandras

Cornucopians = economists, businesspeople,

Improved technology allows continued economic

Human innovation, technologies, and market forces
increase access to resources and avoid depletion

Cassandras = scientists and others

Limits to Growth, Beyond the Limits, Limits to
Growth: The Thirty
year Update

Computer models predict economic collapse as
resources become scarce

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Computer simulations project future

Current consumption
patterns predict economic

Results of policies
of sustainability

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Other types of economies

Environmental economics

= unsustainable economies
have high population growth and inefficient resource use

Modify neoclassical economics to increase efficiency

Calls for reform

Ecological economics

= civilizations cannot overcome
environmental limitations

Endless economic growth is not possible

Calls for revolution

state economies
mirror natural ecological

they neither grow nor shrink



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Measuring economic progress: GDP

Gross Domestic Product

(GDP) = the total monetary
value of goods and services
a nation produces

Does not account for
nonmarket values

Does not express only


Pollution, oil spills,
disasters, etc. increase

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GPI: An alternative to the GDP

Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

= differentiates
between desirable and undesirable economic activity

Positive contributions (e.g., volunteer work) not paid
for with money are added to economic activity

Negative impacts (crime, pollution) are subtracted

In the United States, GDP has risen greatly, but not GPI

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More green accounting indicators

Net Economic Welfare (NEW) = adjusts GDP by adding
the value of leisure time and personal transactions

While deducting costs of environmental degradation

Human Development Index

= assesses a nation’s standard
of living, life expectancy, and education

Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) = based on
income, wealth distribution, resource depletion

These indicators give a more accurate indication of a
nation’s welfare

Very controversial, hard to practice

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Valuing ecosystem goods and services

Our society mistreats the very systems that sustain it

The market ignores/undervalues ecosystem values

Nonmarket values

= values not included in the price of a
good or service (e.g., ecological, cultural, spiritual)

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Valuing ecosystems goods and services

Environmental and ecological economists have tried to
assign monetary values to ecosystems services.

Surveys: determine how much people are willing to
pay to protect or restore a resource

Money, time, effort people expend to travel to parks
for recreation

Inferring the dollar value of landscapes, views, and
peace and quiet

Costs required to restore natural systems

The biosphere provides at least $44 trillion (2009 dollars) worth
of ecosystem services per year

more than the gross domestic
product of all nations combined!

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The global value of all ecosystem services

The global economic value
of all ecosystem services
equals $46 trillion

More than the GDP of all
nations combined

Protecting land gives 100
times more value than
converting it to some other



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Markets can fail

Market failure

= occurs when markets ignore:

The environment’s positive impacts

The negative effects of activities on the environment or
people (external costs)

Government intervention counters market failure

Laws and regulations

Green taxes

= penalize harmful activities

Economic incentives to promote fairness,
conservation, and sustainability (e.g., pollution

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The market can counter market failure


= tells
consumers which brands
use environmentally
benign processes

A powerful incentive
for businesses to

safe tuna,
organic food

Socially responsible
in sustainable

$2.7 trillion in 2007

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Corporations are responding to concerns

Industries, businesses, and
corporations make money by
―greening‖ their operations

Ben & Jerry’s (ice cream),
Patagonia (clothing)

Industries donate to
environmental groups,

preserve land, etc.

Manufacturers use recycled
materials, cut energy use, etc.

Local sustainable businesses

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A “green wave” of consumer preferences

Large corporations are riding the ―green wave‖ of
consumer preference for sustainable products

McDonald’s, Starbucks, Intel, Ford, Dow, etc.

: consumers are misled into thinking
companies are acting more sustainably than they are

―Pure‖ bottled water may not be safer or better

Any changes made by large companies will help

Packard, Wal

Corporate actions hinge on consumer behavior

People must support sustainable economics

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Recent developments have brought economic approaches
to bear on environmental protection and conservation

Corporate sustainability, ecolabeling, new ways of
measuring growth, valuation of ecosystem services

Environmental ethics has expanded people’s ethical

Environmental justice

Economic welfare can be enhanced without growth

Increasing economic health and environmental quality