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Environmental Ethics Blog

July 2008: The Abstract Wild

The Abstract Wild by Jack Turner. This is terrific. A page-turner [NPI] by a Deep Ecologist who advocates that we get out into the wild and be there ... versus what he calls "shallow ecologists" — including Environmental Ethicists — who make the Wild into an Abstraction.

Press Here to see our review with further comments on The Abstract Wild.

And regarding the Google sweepstakes, a search with the phrase:
    "environmental ethics blog"

now returns 10 (plus/minus) entries — with us at position number 1. Wonder how long that will last?

June 2008: Take a class in Viro Eth

by J. Zimmerman

To help me bring you mo' better info here, I enrolled in the local university summer intensive Viro Eth (Environmental Ethics) course: a 10-week course taught in only 5 weeks.

Meanwhile there is a fascinating essay in The Best American Essays 2007: Bioethicist Peter Singer's "What Should a Billionaire Give -- and what should you" (15 pp.) (reprinted from The New York Times Magazine), which says:

More important than questions about motives are questions about whether there is an obligation for the rich to give, and if so how much should they give.

Singer discusses:

Singer reports that:

Philosophers like Liam Murphy of New York University and ... Kwame Anthony Appiah at Princeton contend that our observations are limited to carrying our fair share of the burden of relieving world poverty.

Then he takes "the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000"; reviews how much economists say are needed to meet those goals, how much money is not yet committed, and then calculates that one way to pay for those goals would be ...
Are you on the next chart?

... for 2004 tax data:

Top percent of highest-income U.S. tax payers (some of these 'units' are families rather than individuals) % of annual income such a U.S. tax payer would hand over to relieve world poverty.
top 0.01%
Earned over $5M p.a.
about 33.3%.
top 0.1% (excluding top 0.01%) 25%.
top 0.5% (excluding top 0.1%)
Earned in the range $407K-$1.1M p.a.
top 1% (excluding top 0.5%) 15%.
top 10% (excluding top 1%)
Earned in the range $92K-$276K p.a.

While Singer offers more than one conclusion, he does comment:

If the majority are doing little or nothing, setting a standard higher than the fair-share level may seem so demanding that it discourages people who are willing to make an equitable contribution from doing even that. So it may be best to refrain from criticizing those who achieve the fair-share level. In moving our society's standards forward, we may have to progress one step at a time.

And regarding the Google sweepstakes, a search with the phrase:
    "environmental ethics blog"

now returns 11 (sometimes 12) entries, showing the almost doubling of this field in the last month (grin). We have catapulted to position number 3.

May 2008: Not Finger-Pointing

by J. Zimmerman

This blog is about practical environmental ethics (ethics being from the Greek ethos, meaning "character").

Not the top-down ivory-tower finger-pointing (or even the ivory-fingered tower-pointing) of the religious and the philosophers.

Just the bottom-up attempt of someone chopping wood, carrying water, and trying to reduce her ecology footprint and to minimize her Zimmerman Shadow Ecology Footprint [includes the additional shadow cast by a person with children (throwing a shadow of increased population into the future) or with pets (adding resource consumption now and possibly in the future)].

Motivation comes in part from Deep Timer John McPhee (even if he is sort-of a finger-pointer), who cites David Brower's comparison of geological time to the six days of creation in the Genesis story: on the 6th day about a fortieth of a second before midnight, the Industrial Revolution begins. McPhee quote Brower:
We are surrounded with people who think that what we have been doing for one fortieth of the [last] second can go on indefinitely. They are considered normal, but they are stark raving mad.

There might seem to be a lot of environmental ethics blogs about: Google returns 1,810,000 entries for the list of words:
    environmental ethics blog

If we insert quotation marks, Google returns 87,600 entries for:
    "environmental ethics" blog

If we move the last quotation mark to the end of the phrase, Google returns only 6 entries for:
    "environmental ethics blog"

Perhaps we'll be the magical number 7.