Environmental Dilemmas: Ethics and decisions by R.J. Berry

By R.J. Berry

This booklet is an account of the standards that experience to be weighed in making judgements in regards to the air we breathe, approximately power assets, land use, animal welfare, commerical revenue and so forth. will probably be of curiosity to managers, historians, sociologists, yet principally for environmental scientists compelled to make judgements on imperfect or incomplete facts.

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These failings can be identified now and guarded against both for the present and the future. If I had to identify two forces in our intellectual lives that can help with the latter task they would be good science on the one hand and good philosophy on the other. As long as both of these are cultivated there are at least qualified grounds for optimism; but their cultivation alone will not bring about change. To make any impact, they need to be adopted and put into practice by those involved in policy discussions, corporate planning and environmental activism.

I would argue that the treatment of such areas is a matter of concern and, again for a number of reasons, at least some of them should be left relatively free from h u m a n meddling. The really difficult and interesting issues arise, it seems to me, for areas that are clearly home to groups of people, and where the recent impact of h u m a n populations has led to species loss, erosion, changes in the water table and so on. As already pointed out, some of the forces driving these impacts will probably originate far from the places where they occur.

For example, it is hard to see how industrialized countries can have the moral authority to urge poor countries to save their forests when the former have already destroyed much of their own indigenous woodland. Moreover, when n e w planting is undertaken, this may involve fast-growing, high-input non-native species planted for profit rather than with sensitivity to the landscape. Until recently, this was the situation in Scotland. Perhaps things would be different, however, if the forest of Caledon were to be restored and wolves were reintroduced as natural controls on the red deer.

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