Environmental Ethics

Manila Bulletin, October 27, 2009 | Go to article overview

Environmental Ethics


It had to take tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng to wake us up. For so long, we had taken warnings about the consequences of our behavior towards Mother Nature for granted. We did not take weather reports seriously; we were wasteful – in use of water, electricity, and food. We still throw garbage and plastics in the streets and rivers. Thanks to environmental scientists, much information than what we can process, is now being transmitted through media, forums, conferences. President Arroyo had just signed the bill on Climate Change and recently, a big symposium was held on this topic. The past weeks had provided valuable lessons and recognition of our strengths such as response to crisis with remarkable fortitude and spirit of volunteerism. In the beginning, the lack of coordination among government agencies hampered rescue operations, but the line agencies involved in relief and rehabilitation, specifically the Department of Social Welfare and Development, should be commended for their professionalism and transparency.During discussions on “what next?”, two issues continue to surface. One is need for responsive governance, and the other is for popular information about the environment. Everyone recognizes the need to be armed with information on all forms of “life-savers.”This is why people look forward to 2010 as it gives them reason to hope for new leaders that they can trust. They are aware that the state of our environment is very much related to corruption, that we have not been able to build the necessary infrastructures – dams and spillways, up-to-date disaster warning systems, water and sanitation technologies because of misuse of financial resources.One issue that has to be communicated is ethics. E.E. Schumacher, in “A Guide for the Perplexed” describes the use of science as a tool directed towards material power rather than for achieving wisdom or understanding. The old science “looked upon Nature as God’s handiwork and man’s mother; the new science tends to look upon nature as an adversary to be conquered or a resource to be exploited. In the absence of sustained study of such unscientific questions as “What is good and what is evil?,” or “What are man’s absolute rights and duties?,” a civilization will necessarily sink even more deeply into anguish, despair, and loss of freedom. …

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