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Final Paper - Daniel Zauderer Environmental Philosophy...

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Daniel Zauderer Environmental Philosophy Radical Ecology and the Ecological Crisis Speaker: Greetings to all. For the next few minutes I will present to you a speech I have concocted on the philosophical movement “radical ecology.” The ideas I present to you will question many of your deep-seated beliefs, so do not worry if you are seriously confused: The world is in a state of ecological crisis. This is a fact . Regardless of one’s opinions—regardless of whether one is a Republican or Democrat, utilitarian or deontologist—this fact may not be ignored. Not only must this fact not be ignored, but it must be a central consideration. The future of humanity—indeed, of the entire world depends on it. Carolyn Merchant, a prominent voice in radical environmentalist movements, outlines the host of ecological problems the world must immediately grapple with in her Radical Ecology: The Search for a Livable World . The ecological crisis affects the world in its entirety: air, water, soil, and biota (the living elements of the world). It is predicted that our global temperatures will rise from three to ten degrees Fahrenheit during this century, creating severe weather, flooding and droughts. Our supply of fresh drinking water is quickly shrinking. “By 2015, 40 percent of the world’s population will live in areas without enough water for basic needs” [20], Merchant writes. Erosion is threatening our crop lands and the people who depend on such crops to survive. Species are disappearing more and more rapidly, threatening the biodiversity that is prided not just for its beauty but for its stability. Merchant claims that “Tropical forests are disappearing at the rate of 100 acres a minute or more…” [22]. These are not just claims
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made by a “whacko environmentalist.” Scarily enough, it is the worldwide scientific consensus . Most problematic is the exponential rate at which the human population is increasing. This dramatic rise in population may be responsible for all other ecological problems. Merchant cites a quote from scientists Paul and Ann Ehrlich: “‘Global warming, acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer, vulnerability to epidemics, and exhaustion of soils and groundwater are all…related to population size’” [26-27], they claim. As Thomas Malthus hypothesized long ago, the rate of food production cannot keep up with the rate of population; an ever-increasing growth in population will inevitably deplete all of the world’s finite resources, making our planet utterly uninhabitable. The ecosystem has hope of stability only if our population is controlled. Herman Daly, another prominent voice in environmental philosophy, stresses the role of modern economics in the population crisis. Economics’ emphasis on quantitative growth is detrimental to the environment, Daly believes. It has caused human beings and the artifacts they produce to increase exponentially, while the planet has remained quantitatively constant.
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