Author Archives: jlesan

Response to Prompt 1: Peace

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At first I was curious at the notion that warfare leads to environmental degradation but the longer I thought about it the more it began to make sense.  Nearly everything our country does is because other countries are doing it, or might be trying to do it and we want to be first and we want to be the best.  I think this emphasis on consumerism, technology, military, defense, etc, to always be the best causes a competitive foundation underneath any relationship.  Thus, I find that I have to agree most with the idea that warfare leads to environmental degradation.  I found “Remembering the Future” interesting because I wouldn’t have thought forgiveness and compromise would be used to create peace.  I believe that it is indeed the recognition of interconnectedness that leads to the greatest peace and further, the greatest awareness of said peace.  While I would have liked to see Ausubel go more in depth on the topic I still think he addresses it fairly accurately.  Moreover, I agree with Saleem Ali that peace and conservation go hand-in-hand.  I think that designing a common goal can most definitely act as a tool to ultimately promote peace.  Peace plays a significant role in saving the environment; but I would suggest an integration of all the methods.  Any one method would be far too extreme but a combination of all would advance cooperation, peace, and betterment of the environment.

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Response to Prompt 3: Animal Rights and Speciesism

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I think that as issues like these keep coming up I’m constantly reminded of one thing: I believe that animals do indeed have intrinsic value.  That being said I absolutely disagree with Carl Cohen and his view that since animals have seemingly no capacity for moral judgment, giving them rights is trivial.  Furthermore, claiming that the use of animals for experimentation for the betterment of human life is more important than the rights of the animals involved seems unethical to me.  I do think that science and research is important but I also believe that this research can be conducted in an ethical manner.  Additionally, I do think that food chain is very important and that humans do naturally appear and consume other animals.  With the growth of technology and industrialization we have put ourselves at the top of the food chain, but this does not give humans the right to exploit animals or cause unnecessary pain and suffering to them.  The videos of how our food is slaughtered and processed is disgusting and how many of the animals are treated is appalling.  From this I have to agree with Polyface Farm’s view that if people were to see how animals are raised for agriculture and experimentation in such a horrible and unethical way, that they would see their own human species in the same light.  I think that if we could bring eating and farming back to the community level with local farmer’s markets and butcher shops then the practice of eating (meat) would be considerably more healthy and more importantly, ethical.

Response to Buddhism in Japan

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I do not think that technological advances or economics have caused a disconnect between the influence of religion and how the land is treated.  I think it’s crucial to note that technology is constantly changing and growing and as new innovations and inventions take precedence, religion will continue to adapt, just as Christians support football and eating shellfish today.  As times change, religion adapts.  I think the reason that Japan’s industry and economy appear to be disconnected from its majority religion is due partly because the incredible lead that Japan has on much of the developed and developing world in relation to technology.  In fact, I think it’s extremely important to point out that Japan does actually do many things to “treat the land” in a more sustainable and green way.  I found a video from CBS that emphasizes the many ways that Japan is leading the world in many “going green” aspects while still leading a comfortable lifestyle.  I think that this is a key way that Japan IS connected to its majority religion as this nation is finding new ways to continue functioning as whole in relation to its industry, economy, technology, and of course, the environment.  Furthermore, I don’t think that if there was less of a focus on the growth of the economy, people would be more in tune with basic survival or the environment.  I think that each nation’s industry can factor in the environment while developing or advancing in order to be (more) sustainable.  Additionally, being sustainable and environmentally friendly will still promote economic growth in the long run.

Response to Week 5, Prompt 1: Anti-Environmental

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I absolutely do not think that a more ecofriendly government will result in an economic downturn; in fact, I think quite the contrary.  While yes, perhaps a sudden change to dramatically focus on the environment in our day to day business, technological, and personal lives may arouse a large initial cost to start “going green,” but in the end I believe that so much more good and potentially profit could result.  I think that the video we watched in class about moving farms to the tops of buildings and having water permeable roads is something to be admired, for two reasons: 1. Look at how far we have come as a society in order to make such extravagant technological advances to even do these types of things. And 2. Look at how incredibly possible it is for us to use this ever changing new technology for the benefit for not only us, BUT the environment as well.  There’s no reason we should utilize this capability, even if there is an initial cost.  Often times those things you invest most in, are those with the greatest return.  As far as trying to make Americans feel guilty about using fossil fuel energy, I don’t think that’s necessary.  I think that there will either be no more for us to rely on and we will actively have to change the resources we use and how we use them, or our technology will continue to change and grow so that we will develop something that makes relying on fossil fuels arbitrary.  I feel that we have already found this middle ground between economic and governmental policy.  The market for products from “sustainable” and “going green” companies is growing at a huge rate.  Most American consumers today purchase products from more environmentally friendly companies when they have a choice, even if that product is the more expensive one.  This very clearly demonstrates that the average American does want to help the environment, even at a “price.”

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So I’ve been doing a lot of deep, back and forth thinking over the topic of whether or not our environment, as well as the components in which it is comprised of, hold intrinsic value and if they do, any conceivable manner that this value can be measured or observed.  To me it is obvious that our environment, nature, trees, and other living organisms that aren’t a part of the human species still have value, at LEAST some sort of value.  However, in the modern world it seems impossible to determine or devise a system for measuring each “thing’s” value.  Ideally our (humanity’s) instrumental values for the environment would align with what’s “ethical” in relation to the environment; so that our growing urge to consume and use the environment’s resources to further our own as well as society’s welfare were not negatively affecting that same environment. This could perhaps be impossible altogether.  Nonetheless, I still believe that Norton’s proposed value set on the basis of weak anthropocentrism is a place to start.  Weak anthropocentrism poses a middle ground between strong anthropocentrism and ecocentrism.

I do consider weak anthropocentrism to still underline a disconnect between humanity and the environment. Any instrumental value set that centers on what’s useful to humans can only contribute to separation from nature, but we can tighten that gap.  If the intrinsic value of nature is recognized than it may be possible to preserve it. It appears like the path we’re on today with exponential growth in technology we are becoming more focused on what the environment can do for us and how to use it rather than the consequences of having no more environment to use in the future. I do believe that humans can live with respect towards nature.