Saturday, June 30, 2012

Eco-Centric Ethics

There are several issues that led to the development of eco-centric ethics. Some of the issues that led to the development of eco-centric include ontological belief and subsequent ethical claims.  The ontological belief notes that there are no existential divisions between human and non-humans. This belief holds that there is no sufficient knowledge to claim that humans are the only bearers of intrinsic value or posses’ greater intrinsic value than non-human nature. However,  the subsequent ethical claim argues for an equality of intrinsic value between human and non-human nature.
The benefits that ecocentric ethics have over biocentric ethics is that eco-centric ethics recognizes the interaction of living and non-living systems (human and non-human nature). On the other hand, biocentric ethics only concentrates on the living organisms because it states that nature does not exist to be used by humans. According to Taylor a biocentrist, he claims that humans are one species among other species that live in an ecosystem. Taylor argues that any human action that alters the ecosystems, negatively affects humans (Taylor, 1986). The approach of eco-centric ethics helps us to understand nature. It helps us to understand how we can solve some of the environmental problems so is the biocentric approach.

One way to understand the biocentric ethics is to look at the four Biocentrc outlooks. According to Desjardins, the first biocentric outlook is looking at all humans as members of the earth community (Desjardins, 2006). This follows the second biocentric outlook which explains that all species are part of the system of interdependence. This means that destroying one species can disrupt the system. The third and fourth biocentric outlook explains how all living things pursue their own good and claims that humans are not inherently superior to other living things (Desjardins, 2006. Understanding biocentric outlooks brings the approach of eco-centric ethics which explains the interaction between humans and non-human nature. Combing these two can help solve environment.   

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Biological Weapons

According to the United States Department of Defense (DOD), biological weapons are toxic materials produced from pathogenic organisms or artificially manufactured toxic substances that are used to intentionally interfere with the biological processes of a host (DOD, 2012). The DOD states that these substances work to kill or incapacitate the host. Biological weapons can be used to kill living humans, animals or vegetation. Biological weapons are also used in the contamination of nonliving substances such as air, soil, water streams like lakes and rivers (DOD, 2012).
Martin in History of Biological Weapons from Poisoned Darts to Intentional Epidemics, notes that history shows the anticipation of the use of biological weapons can be traced from the Aboriginal use of curare and amphibian derived toxins as arrow poisons (Martin, Christopher & Eitzen, 2001). Martin (2001) claims that the early use of biological weapons involved the contamination of water with animal carcasses and filth. Another ancient tactic was to allow an enemy to take sanctuary in an area endemic for an infectious agent in anticipation that the enemy force would become infected, for example, allowing unimpeded access of opposing forces to areas where transmission of malaria was highly likely.
Anker (2012) of Medicine-health notes that during the battle of Tortona in the 12th century AD, Barbarossa used the bodies of dead and decomposing soldiers to poison wells. During the siege of Kaffa in the 14th century AD, the attacking Tatar forces hurled plague-infected corpses into the city in an attempt to cause an epidemic within enemy forces. This was repeated in 1710, when the Russians besieging Swedish forces at Reval in Estonia catapulted bodies of people who had died from plague (Anker, 2012). Biological weapons have been used in many wars. The advancement in technology has also led to advancement in biological technological weapons. For example, modern biological warfare can be traced from World War 1 (1910-1917). According to Anker (2012), the Germans Army developed Anthrax, cholera and wheat fungus specifically for use as biological weapons (Anker, 2012). Anker explains that the Germans spread plague in St. Petersburg, Russia, infected mules in Mesopotamia and attempted to do the same with the horses of the French Cavalry (Anker, 2012).   

According to Anker (2012) the Geneva Protocol of 1925 was signed by 108 nations. It is noted that it was the first multilateral agreement that extended prohibition of chemical agents to biological agents. This agreement had no method for verification of compliance was addressed in the protocol (Anker, 2012). As a result, during World War II, Japanese forces operated a secret biological warfare research facility (Unit 731) in Manchuria that carried out human experiments on prisoners (Anker, 2012). They exposed more than 3000 victims to plague, anthrax, syphilis and other agents in an attempt to develop and observe the disease. It is noted that many victims died from their infections (Anker, 2012).

Also, countries like United States had secret advanced biological weapon laboratories. Anker (2012) notes that United States formed the War Research Service. In 1942, United States investigated use of anthrax and botulin toxins as weapons. Anker (2012) notes that United States developed sufficient quantities of botulin toxin and anthrax. United States stockpiled anthrax and botulin in anticipation of the Germans use of Anthrax during the war (Anker, 2012).
It should be noted that biological weapons are of many types and can be delivered through various methods. For example, Almedo (2012) explains that the use of an explosive device to deliver and spread biological agents is not as effective as the delivery by aerosol. For biological weapons to be effectively delivered by aerosol airborne germs must be dispersed as fine particles and a person must breathe a sufficient quantity of particles into the lungs to cause illness (Almedo, 2012).
Also, another method of delivery can be contamination of water supplies. Almedo (2012) explains that this might require large amounts of biological agents and may require introduction of the biological agent into the water after it passes through a regional treatment facility (Almedo, 2012).
 The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) opened for signature in 1972 and was entered into force in 1975. It was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons. It effectively prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is a key element in the international community’s efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Today, many methods of bacteria and viruses spreading are now available to the military. According to The secret lies in ensuring that the organisms are live and viable after dissemination from a grenade, shell, bomb, or missile, or from the spray tank of an aircraft drone. All of these devices have been investigated for their usefulness as delivery vehicles, with some being more effective than others, suitability being as much a feature of the agent being carried as of the battlefield conditions

Monday, June 25, 2012

Traditional Ethical Theory

I agree with Desjardins conclusion that traditional ethical theory is inadequate to handle ethical questions of the environmental. Traditional ethical theory also known as ethical “extensionism” does not cover all aspects of life. For example, Desjardins notes that traditional ethical theory tends to remain critical and negative. The theory often tells what is wrong with various policies and actions but does not offer guidelines about what the alternative should be (Desjardins, 2006).

This is why there is need to incorporate traditional and modern theories to answer environmental questions. Traditional ethical theories do not comprehensively answer environmental questions. For example, Desjardins notes the extension of ethics that cover the rights of animals cannot provide guidance for many other environmental issues such as global warming and pollution (Desjardins, 2006). This is the reason why we need to incorporate traditional and modern ethical theories to answer all these issues.
According to Desjardins, it is noted that in the twenty-first century, human beings are faced with lots of environmental challenges (Desjardins, 2006). These challenges happened long time ago and some have largely occurred more recent.  From this understanding, we cannot rely on traditional ethical theories to answer all environmental questions that have recently occurred. Desjardins notes that the criteria for moral consideration defended by philosophers like Singer and Regan are found in adult human beings (Desjardins, 2006). We cannot rely on such principles because if we do, many questions regarding things like plants will not be answered.
In my opinion, to answer all environmental questions, we need to utilize both traditional and modern ethical principles. Therefore, I agree with Desjardins’ conclusion that traditional ethical theories are inadequate to answer all environmental problems.

Whitehead’s philosophy

Whitehead’s philosophy can be understood as a deep ecology. It affirms the intrinsic value of all things and their radical interdependence in such a way that those who follow him should be profoundly sensitive to the inherent importance of what happens to all things and to how the effects of each act ramify throughout the whole. Furthermore, the importance of what happens is by no means limited to its importance for human beings. People with such sensitivities should have been the first to become aware of the ecological crisis and the most perceptive in their response.

Unfortunately, we Whiteheadians cannot claim this kind of leadership. Some, such as Bernard Meland, Charles Hartshorne, and Charles Birch noticed the degradation of the environment and the loss of habitat for other species at an early point. But on the whole, it was not until others forced us to notice the critical nature of the destructive human impact on the biosphere that most of us were aroused. Certainly this was my experience.
Nevertheless, when my eyes were opened, the relevance of the philosophy, which had appealed to me originally on other grounds, was apparent. I did not have to struggle to overcome a dualism between the human and the natural world, since, theoretically at least, I had rejected that long since. When I read Lynn White’s critique of the anthropocentrism of Western Christianity, I saw at once that he was correct and that this had affected me as well, but I had no inclination to defend anthropocentrism. I had already rejected it theoretically and, to some extent, in my sensibility, as a theologian I began to call for a radical revision of Christian teaching.
To summarize my own experience, believing it to be somewhat typical, being a Whiteheadian had limited effects on my dominant perceptions and sensibility with respect to the nonhuman world until my attention was called to what was happening there. When I heard the criticism of dualism and anthropocentrism, I responded immediately to its correctness, and modes of sensibility and perception that had earlier been suppressed by my dualistic and anthropocentric acculturation and academic training began to affect my consciousness and my judgments. I became more fully a Whiteheadian.
From the early 1970s I was aware that among those who were newly conscientized to the destruction of life-support systems, some were concerned only with finding ways of avoiding negative consequences for human beings. I had long since been schooled to see the limits of this kind of approach within the human context. For example, an individual who acts according to enlightened self-interest will not in fact establish the relation with others needed to fulfill those interests. Similarly, a national policy based on self-interest alone does not achieve the self-interest of the nation. Only when the policy is guided by some real concern about what happens to others as well will it achieve the goals of national self-interest.
Accordingly, I argued that aiming to defend the natural environment simply for the sake of human beings would not achieve even its own ends. Those who did not care for other creatures would never perceive the real situation with sufficient clarity to recognize the seriousness of what was happening. They would not be motivated at a sufficient depth to take the actions needed. The Christian principle that those who seek to save only their own souls will lose them applies to humanity as a whole. If we aim to save only humanity, humanity will die. We will deal wisely with our problems only if we seek the well-being of the other creatures out of real concern for them.
When I first heard the terms "shallow ecology" and "deep ecology," I assumed that they described this division -- that between a narrowly anthropocentric concern and an inclusive concern for the whole of creation. The former required little revision of traditional Western thinking, only the recognition of a new set of problems calling for new technical solutions. The latter required a basic revision of traditional Western thinking toward the acceptance of the reality and intrinsic value of the natural world and the intimate interconnectedness of all things. I was, and am, wholeheartedly committed to the latter. For a Whiteheadian there is hardly any choice. I assumed, therefore, that I was a deep ecologist.
Furthermore, the eight points taken to be the essential principles of "deep ecology," which I first encountered in the book by Bill Devall and George Sessions, Deep Ecology, are quite acceptable to a Whiteheadian. (Secondary questions about point 4 will be raised later in this essay.) They are as follows:
1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman Life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.
3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.
4. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
5. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
6. Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes. (70

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to summarize a speech.

The governor of my state of residence is Andrew Cuomo. In his latest speech, he noted previous year (2011) achievements that included stabilizing the state and ending the dysfunctional Albany. The governor noted that there were dramatic reforms carried out. For example, the governor explained that in the previous year, the state enacted property tax caps to relieve taxpayers the burden of ever raising property tax in New York State.

Also, the governor explained that there were reforms in the Medicaid program in which state agencies were reorganized and ethic laws passed in order to bring accountability. More importantly, the governor noted, the state restored competence to state government by passing an on-time budget and closing a $10 billion shortfall without any new taxes and fees.

After noting previous year (2011) achievements, the governor started explaining to the state what to expect this year. The governor noted that the next step was to create jobs and get the economy running. He went on to explain how the state is focused on building and growing business. He noted that one obstacle the state removed was getting taxes under control. The governor also asserted that not only were taxes got under control but also the state created powerful new incentives for the private sector to expand their business and to create new ones.

On the one hand, the governor noted that the federal government must do more. He explained that the Government must tackle the problems that New York as a state cannot solve on its own such as improving education, public safety and environment protection. However, the governor also explained how the state made environmental protection a priority by starting a $100 million competitive grant program “Cleaner, Greener Communities.”  
In his last words, the government talked about the end of fingerprinting people on food stamps, creation of jobs for minority youths that face 40% unemployment in the state and making New York city a city of equality, justice and happiness.

Differences between policy, statutes, and regulations.

Environmental regulation intrusion is justifiable in many cases. For example, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency EPA, humans are exerting a discernible influence on the earth's climate (EPA, 2012). The increase of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere is a result of humans. Greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxides, carbon dioxide and methane trap the sun's energy and heat rather than releasing it back into space (EPA, 2012). Reducing greenhouse gas emissions prevents negative effects of global warming on natural ecosystems, coastal communities and wildlife (EPA, 2012).

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency EPA, as the earth warms, animals and plants will change. EPA notes that when temperatures increase by 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius, it is estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of animals and plant species are threatened by extinction (EPA, 2012). Therefore an environmental regulation that aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions can ensure that the earth's ecosystems remain intact and their inhabitants are not forced to rapidly adapt to new surroundings.

Also, environmental regulation is justifiable when protecting public resources such as water streams. For example, the Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters (EPA, 2012). As a result of the Clean Water Act, water quality in the U.S has improved compared to other countries. The regulation led to the control of water borne diseases that were rampant during 1950s.

Goldsteen (2005) explains that a Regulation is administrative legislation that constitutes rights and allocates responsibilities. Goldsteen (2005) notes that a regulation is a separate set of instruction about a subject that is required to be followed (Goldsteen, 2005).  For example, according to Goldsteen (2005), the federal environmental regulation for air includes thousands of separate instructions (Goldsteen, 2005). Some of the regulations noted are; Airport Noise Abatement Act, Clean Air Act, Atomic Energy Act among others.

On the other hand, policies are set of procedures that have been agreed upon by an organization for dealing with other organizations or situations. Goldsteen (2005) states that policies establish comprehensive procedures and goals. For example, the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA establishes procedures which require all federal agencies' funding or permitting decisions be made with full consideration of the impact to the natural and human environment (EPA, 2012). These procedures are the one that define a set policy.

Newport, Rhode Island

According to U.S Census Bureau (2010), Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States 30 miles (48 km) south of Providence (U.S Census Bureau, 2010). It is a small city of about 24672 people and therefore has a comprehensive land use plan. The Newport land use plan was developed in accordance with the vision of Newport citizens. Plans implemented reflect both desires of the communities in Newport as well as the vision of the city. The city of Newport (2011), notes that there is constant refinement of zoning regulations, which are necessary for the protection of Newport historical structures as well as meet future needs of Newport citizens.
The Newport comprehensive land Use element provides eight goals that govern all decisions relating to land use in Newport. The zoning policy element is a number element. It is noted that most parts of Newport were developed before the zoning element was incorporated in the goals. Therefore the location of commercial and residential areas as well as the density of development reflects various trends in city and neighborhood design and growth patterns that have evolved of the last three centuries (City of Newport, 2012).
Many parts of Newport city are mixed densely populated colonial neighborhoods, Victorian neighborhoods and majestic real estate. The zoned lot sizes are largely determined by the existing neighborhoods. The newer zoned neighborhoods provide adequate spacing between homes and suburban amenities. The consideration put forward during the construction of newer zoned neighborhoods are; preservation of open spaces, preservations of scale and character of the neighborhoods, limiting development to that which can be supported by the infrastructure and the environment and careful reuse of harbor front (City of Newport, 2011).
The second element is updating the current zoning. The city of Newport (2011) reports that the planning department is responsible reviewing the zoning changes. As noted above, the few top priorities are to preserve open spaces, preserve scale and character of the current neighborhoods and limit development to that which can support the current infrastructure and the environment (City of Newport, 2011).
Also, among the Newport Land Use element goals is maintaining population and fostering employment opportunities. According to 1990 U.S. Census, residential vacancy rate was 14.5 percent or 1898 units, followed by 12.6 percent vacancy rate 2000 U.S. Census. Based on these statistics, the existing housing stock contains sufficient excess capacity to absorb anticipated population growth (City of Newport, 2011). The plan ensures that there will available parking, water distribution, sewage treatment capacity and environmental safeguards that ensure responsible development.
In addition to the element of population and employment, Newport comprehensive Land use plan entails plans on natural resource usage. For example, commercial areas are located in areas with adequate transportation. These areas include retail, shopping centers, offices, research facilities, technology centers, guest facilities and restaurants (city of Newport, 2011). Also, the future infrastructure land use considers water, sewer and storm water system on properties owned by the city. More still, the future institutional land use consists of uses such as schools, universities and colleges, governmental functions, hospitals, cemeteries and non-profit organizations (City of Newport, 2011).
The city of Newport comprehensive plan (2011) includes the protection of Newport’s historic, architectural and maritime resources. The policy is aimed at protecting landscapes, streetscapes, open space and scenic visits. Also, the policy aims at increasing public awareness, access to Newport natural and cultural resources. This includes expanding public access to and along the shore (City of Newport, 2011).
More still, the element of economic development is aimed at promoting economic activity and ensuring enhanced quality of life for all Newport residents. This land use policy ensures that new development does not place undue burdens upon the city’s exiting and planned infrastructure. However, Newport city planning department is revamping street development with a goal of establishing complete streets. For example, Paige (2012) Newport city planning manager, notes that the city is on truck remodeling Broadway into a complete street (Paige, 2012).
In addition, the economic development plan involves the recognition of the fishing industry as a major economic industry. The plan ensures that the fishing fleet, businesses and services essential to the fishing industry operation remain on the Newport waterfront (City of Newport, 2011). The economic development plan element also, lays out a plan that fosters conditions that produce and maintains broad-based business climate in Newport. For example, the plan seeks to expand and retain businesses in the harbor area (City of Newport, 2011). This is a critical area since it serves the Yachting industry, Commercial and recreational boaters.  
In conclusion, Newport city comprehensive land use plan focuses on protecting Newport historic landmarks, natural resources and establishing a pattern of land use in Newport. The comprehensive land use plan aims at improving the well being of Newport residents.  The plan incorporates different elements such as providing housing for all Newport citizens, integrating housing within the city and promoting public safety and good quality of life in all city neighborhoods.    

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Endangered Species Recovery [Community Resources]

Some opponents of endangered species efforts have argued that endangered species recovery is too expensive, stands in the way of individual property rights, and produces little to no results in the recovery of endangered species. Do you agree or disagree with this position? How important is biodiversity from a biological perspective? How important is biodiversity to you personally? Are you willing to give up economic gains for the benefit of biodiversity? Evaluate and discuss these questions and ideas based on your research of credible sources

I agree that endangered species recovery stands in the way of individual property rights. Critics argue that Endangered Species Act (ESA) constitutes an unconstitutional taking of private property without compensation. I believe the restrictions on private land use can reduce the income that property owners can earn from their property. Read The World We Live In Today 

On the other hand, according to the contingent valuation survey (CV), which is used to measure benefits of endangered species recovery program, results suggest that the average person's lump sum willingness to pay ranges from $12.99 to $254 for sea turtle or bald eagle preservation. The survey indicated that the average individual's annual willingness to pay ranges from $6 to $95 to avoid the loss of the northern spotted owl (Kauffman, 2011). Although the endangered species recovery program is expensive, the success of Endangered Species recovery program is straightforward. For example, the economic value of current recreational use like recreational viewing of species is perhaps the most straightforward benefit to estimate.  (Kauffman, 2011) notes that the recreational birding in Cape May New Jersey support over 60,000 jobs and over $1 billion in individual income (Kauffman, 2011).

Anup (2011) defines biodiversity as the number of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms, the enormous diversity of genes in these species, the different ecosystems on the planet, such as deserts, rainforests and coral reefs (Anup, 2011).

From this definition, it can easily be concluded that biodiversity is important in many ways. Anup (2011) notes that biodiversity provides a number of natural services for everyone. For example, Ecosystem services help in protection of water resources, soils formation and protection, nutrient storage and recycling, pollution breakdown and absorption, contribution to climate stability (Anup, 2011).
As clearly explained from above, biodiversity is very important to me personally. Because as a result of biodiversity, water resources are protected, I’m able to access clean water hence living healthy. Yes, I would be willing to give up economic gains for the benefit of biodiversity on condition that there are alternative ways to satisfy my needs.