Environmental ethics: issues and possible solutions:
Environmental ethics deal with issues related to the rights of individuals that are fundamental to life and well being.
Resource consumption patterns and the need for equitable utilization: It deals with how we utilize and distribute resources. The disparity between haves and have-nots is widening. There is a disparity between the individuals, communities and countries in usage of resources. The well-to-do, educated urban dweller consumes much larger quantities of resources and energy than the traditional rural individual. This unequal distribution of wealth and access to land and its resources is a serious environmental concern. An equitable sharing of resources forms the basis of sustainable development for urban, rural and wilderness-dwelling communities.
Equity-disparity in the northern and southern countries: It is concerned with who owns resources and how they are distributed. People living in the economically-advanced nations use greater amounts of resources and energy per individual and also waste more resources. This is at the cost poor people who are resource-dependent and live in developing nations.
Urban-rural equity issues: The common property of rural communities has increasingly been used to supply the needs of the urban and industrial sectors. As the rural sector supplies food and a part of the energy needs (mainly fuel wood) to most towns and cities in India, the common lands of the rural sector are being depleted of their resources.
The need for gender equity: All over India, especially in the rural sector, women work longer hours than men. They are involved in collection and sale of fuel wood, collection of fodder, fruits, medicinal products, trekking several kilometres to fetch potable water, cooking meals in smoky unhealthy atmosphere etc. On an average they spend 10-12 hrs a day of very hard work, every day of the year. Unfortunately, it is the men who play a decisive role in managing the village common and their resources while women have not been given an equal opportunity to develop and improve their status which is due to a lower access to education and health care than that of men. This has deep implications for the rate of utilization of natural resources and their conservation.
Preserving resources for future generations: This ethical issue must be considered when we use resources unsustainably. If we overuse and misuse resources and energy from fossil fuels, our future generations will find survival very difficult.
The rights of animals: The plants and animals that share the Earth with us too have a right to live and share the Earth’s resources and living space. We have no right to push a species that has taken millions of years to evolve towards extinction. Cruelty to animals is a crime that must be regarded seriously and action must be taken against offenders.
The ethical basis of environment education and awareness: The most important concern is related to creating an ethos that will support a sustainable lifestyle in society. The Supreme Court of our country has ordered that every young individual at school and college level be exposed to a course on environment. There are two aspects that are closely connected with ethical issues that are related to our environment. These are based on valuing nature as a resource and appreciating the beauty of nature and treasuring the magnificence of the wilderness.
The conservation ethic and traditional value systems of India: During olden days, people have always valued mountains, rivers, forests, trees and several animals. Thus, much of nature was venerated and protected. Certain species of trees have been protected as they are valued for their fruit or flowers. Traditions held the animals/species as an important aspect of nature were the basis of local life-support systems and were integral to bring about a harmonious life.