With the earth’s population density rapidly increasing, our ability to maintain an environment that fosters socially sustainable practices is put into serious question. In order to ensure social sustainability in the upcoming generations, we must first come to a complete understanding of our environmental limitations and how we must adjust our level of consumption in order to fit within our earth’s ecological constraints . As Kenny Ausubel explains in “Dreaming the Future”, “It is not only a new gadget that will make us more sustainable, but human resilience and adaptability.” To fully address this issue, we must first focus on radically reducing the level of global poverty so that people are able to achieve a basic standard of wellbeing through adequate access to basic resources. This will require a significant overhaul in the infrastructure of many developing nations by allowing these underdeveloped communities to gain access to modern forms of technology as well as the educational resources needed to develop a more environmentally conscious mindset. After a basic standard of living is established, we will be able to focus our efforts on implementing global restrictions and regulations that foster sustainable development. This will require the usage of economic incentives that will increase investment in more environmentally conscious forms of energy such as generating electricity from landfill waste or solar power. It is important to realize that we possess a vast amount of technology that will easily allow us to make the switch to developing an economy that ensures a minimum standard of social wellbeing and that it is our lack of sufficient education and access to basic resources that hinders our ability to properly sustain ourselves as a global community. In addition, we also must foster the growth of new environmentally conscious jobs in our global market economies that focus on raising productivity as well as reducing environmentally hazardous practices. Lastly, we need to realize how societies across the globe must remain interconnected to each other and the surrounding environment in order to compromise on pressing global issues such as climate change and usage of natural resources. This will allow for the development of international legislation that promotes environmental sustainability while acknowledging the individual desires and needs of each nation involved. If we are able to come to these important realizations, then we will be more equipped to handle the increasing global population while still implementing policies that promote a greater level of human equality, health, and wellbeing for the future generations to come.
When we take a look at our current methods of factory farming, there is little doubt that the system has begun to spiral out of control. While many people as well as large corporations still tend to see factory farming as a cheap, profitable alternative to small scale agriculture, they also tend to overlook the host of health and environmental problems that it brings. The spread of disease, antibiotic resistance, animal exploitation, and excess feedlot waste are just several of the most pressing issues that could be largely avoided if we were to switch to more sustainable farming practices that focus on small scale agriculture. I believe there are several steps that must be taken to ensure more sanitary and environmentally friendly conditions for the cultivation of crops and the raising of animals for consumption. Stricter EPA regulations to decrease agricultural runoff pollution and stricter USDA regulations that allow local farming businesses to become greater participators in the agricultural market would not only help our ecosystem, but would also encourage a shift from high volume agricultural production to more humane and sustainable small scale production. Additionally, in order to ensure that the plants and animals we consume is harvested humanely, we must implement a minimum standard for how we should treat them. These minimum standards need to begin a shift away from the over usage of antibiotics and pesticides as well as stricter regulations regarding the overall size and maximum capacity of factory farms. If we were to reduce our consumption of both dairy and meat products, this would reduce our need to expand the factory farming system at the expense of smaller local farming businesses. In summary, a combination of stricter minimum standards that focus on ethical treatment as well as human effort to consume less animal protein would create a drastic difference in the quality of both the air and water in our surrounding environment. The startling fact that “farm animal production is responsible for 18% of our greenhouse gas emissions,” should tell us that there is definitely more that we can do regarding how we produce meat and vegetation. Ultimately, it is how we present the issue to the public that will determine whether society will realize the true urgency of the issue and as well as comprehend the idea that profitability must not take precedence over sustainability.
I believe that both technological advancement and the constant push for economic growth have caused a disconnect between the impact that religious influences have on our societies and how we interact with our ecosystems. Jainism, a religion practiced in several rapidly expanding areas of the world (India, Canada, the US, and the UK), is a strong example of how traditional religious values can be overshadowed by a country’s technological and economic development. Centered upon equality, compassion for others, and the idea that each living being possesses a soul, Jainism rejects the degradation of our ecological systems in favor of non violence, vegetarianism, and self control. However, it is clear that while this religion is still widely practiced, it has not made a significant impact ecologically. Despite the fact that the ethics of Jainism prohibit the killing of other beings, it has not been able to influence the development of modern society on a national scale and has actually been declining in popularity over recent years. By requiring its followers to adhere to strict moral codes such as the rejection of material possessions, it denounces the modern way of life which is largely centered around consumerism, environmental exploitation, and the accumulation of capital wealth. I am in agreement with the idea that placing a lesser focus on economic wellbeing would allow us to develop a greater attachment to our own environment and permit us to develop a deeper appreciation of the resources that it has to offer. As Arne Naess argues, we must value the quality of life by preserving the diversity of our ecosystems and appreciating the inherent worth of all life forms. I believe that in order to maintain a rich, thriving environment we must view our natural resources as being more than just tools for human consumption, but also as precious commodities that must be preserved and prized for their own inherent worth.
I disagree with the idea that environmental regulation has a significant effect on the economic growth of the United States. I believe that implementing more sustainable methods of conservation and regulation are a must if we are to continue to survive at our current level of economic prosperity as a country. There are many misconceptions regarding environmental regulation and the growth of the American job industry. While many claim that environmentalist practices have led to a significant loss of job opportunities, this is largely not the case. The creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 and the current widespread belief that this agency has led to higher levels of unemployment is a prime example of how people choose to blame regulatory policies for our modern day economic troubles. Duke Professor William Pizer refutes this idea by pointing out that the policies of the the EPA and our current loss of jobs do not go directly hand in hand. He states that, “The biggest job losses occurred in the 2000s, long after the huge body of EPA regulations was issued in the 1970s and ’80s,” which helps prove the point that our current economic decline stems from a combination of factors and cannot be pinpointed to merely one set of environmental policies. In my opinion, the benefits from the implementation of regulatory policies far outweigh the costs. If we continue to focus solely on economic gain without any regard to how we are exploiting our ecosystem, we will eventually exhaust the resources that have been so generously given to us. I believe that this extreme partisanship can be attributed to peoples’ individual lifestyle choices as well as lack of education regarding environmental issues. When deciding whether or not to support an issue, people tend to look at the potential costs and benefits associated with that issue and I believe it is no different in the case of choosing to support or reject environmental policies. Suppose Person A is living a lifestyle characterized by mass consumption while Person B has chosen to adopt a more modest way of living. Unsurprisingly, it will be much harder for Person A to advocate for a regulatory policy due to the fact that it will cost them much more to change their current habits as a opposed to Person B who has already made it their priority to incorporate sustainable practices into their current way of living. The claim that, “increased environmental regulation will lead to slowed economic growth,” is mainly an excuse that allows people to justify their current levels of overconsumption rather than acknowledge the current environmental issues at hand. It is not a proven fact that has been successfully backed by substantial scientific evidence.
Blog Prompt- The Mechanization of Agriculture
The sharp rise in global population coupled with the rapid advancement in biotechnology has made the mechanization of agriculture commonplace in many areas of the world. While the factory farming industry has greatly expanded food production, it continues to present a severe threat to the biodiversity and natural order of our ecosystems. As Wendell Barry explains, resource depletion and ecological damage stem from the poor solutions that often characterize commercial agriculture. Instead of creating agricultural solutions that consider the wellbeing of the entire ecosystem and act within the set boundaries of that ecosystem, commercial farmers often seek solutions that will allow them to reap the greatest economic benefit. Solutions such as these are extremely hazardous as they tend to compound rather than solve existing problems such as land erosion and water contamination.
It is becoming apparent that factory farming could potentially result in an ecological catastrophe. This is largely due to the fact that the industry continues to expand at a rate which makes regulation increasingly difficult. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed legislation requiring that farms have permits which regulate feedlot pollution, however their efforts proved unsuccessful. In the end it became clear that, “The growth of the farming industry, and its courtroom tenacity, had far outstripped the E.P.A.’s efforts to restrict runoff from manure lagoons and feedlots”(NY Times). Even with the variety of natural growing methods available, many farmers still opt to practice forms of agriculture that attempt to control the land rather than “co-evolving” with it (Natural News). After considering these issues, we should reflect on how they will impact us in the long term. Do you believe that given our current dependence on biotechnology, we will still be able to adopt Leopold’s “Land Ethic” in which we “change our role from conqueror of the land community to plain member of it?” If so, what steps do you think should be taken in order to successfully adopt this way of sustainable living and farming?
I see the weak anthropocentric worldview as being an effective compromise that will move us in the proper direction due to the fact that it represents a middle ground between the unrealistic romanticist perspective and the radical, self interested strong anthropocentric perspective. Weak anthropocentrism remains the most rational alternative as it values human desires which align with “rationally adopted worldviews- views that include fully supported scientific theories as well as a set of rationally supported aesthetic and moral ideals.” (Norton, 134). It remains an ideal compromise as it encourages rational thinking based upon scientific evidence rather than rash decisions based upon unsubstantiated personal preferences. With the current rate of technological advancement, the romantic viewpoint remains too idealistic and unsustainable. While human reverence of the natural world is important, it is completely unrealistic to believe that our current population will have the ability to sustain itself if our natural resources remain pure and untouched. While I agree with Norton that adopting strong anthropocentrism is hazardous and unsustainable, I do believe that human preference does and will continue to play a role in our ability to make informed decisions about environmental sustainability. Because humans are the most intellectually complex beings, it is our responsibility to recognize our role as a part of the natural world and to adopt policies that allow us to work synergistically with the environment in which we live and respect our ecosystem rather than continue to exploit it. There is a stark difference between unrestricted human exploitation of resources and using only the resources we absolutely need rather than those we want. It is also important to note that “superiority” is relative. While we as humans may have a high intellectual capacity in comparison to a majority of other organisms, this does not automatically deem us totally “superior” or grant us authority to manipulate and take advantage the ecosystem that we are a part of.