chapter  9
16 Pages

The Natural Environment

Nothing would seem to be more important at this juncture of human existence than the emergence of a new moral consciousness to guide the direction of production and consumption in ways that enhance the natural environment in which we are embedded. We are destroying our own habitat, but the human need to shape and develop nature to suit ourselves seems to be inexhaustible and is like a bulldozer that cannot be stopped. Sometimes it seems inevitable that we are going to build something on every square inch of the earth, exploit every last resource the earth can provide, and industrialize every last bit of wilderness. The human ego seems to have no bounds or limits, which creates a problem because the world we live in does have limits. Our refusal to live within those limits will surely lead to our demise unless something like an environmental ethic emerges to guide our behavior. This ethic must function as a comprehensive ethic based on our relation to and responsibilities for the natural environment. A continuing emphasis on only individualism and rights will not make this happen.