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2.4.2 Ecological restoration

The changing science of ecology, coupled with a greater awareness and development of alternative styles of managing natural resources, continues to influence our notion of what is good and what is right for nature. One of the first and most influential formal expressions of an environmental ethic that arose from early organic and ecosystems models of ecology was that of Aldo Leopold. Leopold’s argument is regarded as an environmental ethic because it explicitly gives moral consideration to,
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2.4.1 The emergence of ecology

To help you gain a better perspective on the general progress of scientific development, Table 4 provides a schematic potted history of some of the major ideas coming from science that have sought to guide our actions. It includes both social and natural sciences, though the former really only became distinct ‘scienc
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2.4 Natural science valuation: towards ecological restoration

While the previous two subsections dealt with the social sciences, the ideas of ecology represent more the natural sciences tradition. In the early years of controversy around how to practise sustainable development, some concern was expressed about the perceived bias towards social rather than natural sciences. Bryan Norton (1992), for example, is critical of the social scientific approach. He argues that reliance on standard economic and other social scientific tools will not be enough to e
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2.3.1 Public participation and perspectives on sustainability

When it comes to issues around the environment, ‘experts’ – whether ecologists, economists or other types of social scientist – are clearly not infallible. Environmental crises have led to a questioning of traditional expert support as a guarantor of environmental planning. This has had two consequences. Firstly, there have been some interesting and useful explorations amongst environmentalists in seeking guarantors through the domain of spiritualism. In particular, traditional worldv
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2.3.1 The risk society

The shift from an anthropocentric concern around issues of human poverty in industrial society towards a more ecocentric concern around environmental issues in the ‘risk society’ has been expressed by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck. His 1992 book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity suggests a shift from the safety state of industrialised society, where conflicts were manifest in struggles amongst socio-economic groups, to a society where conflicts arise from issues of uncerta
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2.3 Social valuation: towards ecological citizenship

An important practical question is whether the standard tools of economics are adequate for describing and monitoring sustainable development. If we consider either the Brundtland ‘essential needs of the poor’ condition for sustainability, or the idea that we ought to try to secure a certain level of quality of life for future people equivalent to that of some people today, it would appear that economics will not be enough by itself. This is because each of these concepts demands more tha
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2.2.3 Ecological economics

Ecological economics, which formally came to prominence in the mid-1980s, represents a departure from reliance on the use of mainstream economic modelling. Instead, it branches out to actively engage with and incorporate the ethical, social and behavioural dimensions of environmental issues. In short, ecological economics attempts to provide an interdisciplinary approach to environmental issues, whereas environmental economics maintains the primacy of economic modelling.

Mark Sag
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2.2.2 Environmental economics and green consumerism

In economic terms, green consumerism is typically expressed using measures based on the willingness to pay (WTP) principle. As mentioned above, this takes two main forms: eco-taxation, in which environmental costs are estimated and added to the price of commodities (e.g. vehicles with high carbon emissions); and eco-labelling, in which products are labelled with relevant environmental information, such as is now required by the food industry and governments in many industrialised count
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2.2.1 Environmental economics

Environmental economics emerged as a sub-discipline in the 1960s, following a tradition that began in the early twentieth century with ‘agricultural’ economics and continued in the 1950s with ‘resource’ economics. In each case, natural resources are treated as environmental assets in the same way as other resource inputs, using the classical mainstream supply and demand economic models. David Pearce, who at one stage was at the forefront of environmental economics and was an ac
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2.2 Economic valuation: towards ecological economics

The blue whale could have supplied indefinitely a sustainable yield of 6000 individuals a year.

This is one of the earliest references to sustainability in the literature, taken from the 1971 edition of the science journal Nature (cited in Senge et al., 2006, p. 45). Here, the blue whale is given instrumental value – a means of measuring not the survival of the blue whale for its intrinsic v
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2.1 Accounting for the consequences of environmental harm

The ethical tradition of consequentialism informs not only what matters from the perspective of caring for the environment, but also what matters from the perspective of accountability towards it. In eighteenth-century Europe, the actual environmental consequences of rapid economic development, triggered by the industrial revolutions taking place at that time, prompted an increasing concern for accountability. The most evident expression of this came with ideas of sustainable development
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1.4 Caring for the consequences

The Light reading is an extract from the first part of a longer paper in which he goes on to argue for a more pragmatic approach from environmental ethicists to complement their important work on theorising over intrinsic value. Here you need register only the concern expressed by Light that ethicists should focus more on the immediate consequences of their endeavours in terms of being able to shape policy and action.

In thinking about such effects, Light might be regarded as following
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1.3 The influence of environmental ethics: value and care

Religious ethics can play a significant role in shaping appropriate narratives that provide for a lived ethic – that is, the obligations and entitlements associated with human relationships with Nature that embody what’s good and what’s right. But how might other ethical traditions help towards developing a lived ethic? To what extent has the emergence of environmental ethics since the 1970s influenced a lived ethic commensurate with developing care for the environment?

Andrew Lig
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1.2 The influence of narratives and spiritual traditions

In his 1974 publication Man’s Responsibility for Nature, John Passmore – an Australian philosopher who pioneered a concern for developing a change of attitude towards the environment – argues from an explicitly anthropocentric perspective. He suggests that the special ties between parents and children provide the basis for continual development of obligations amongst humans, which can then translate into a more responsible engagement with the environment.

People normally ca
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1.1 Entitlements and obligations

Informal conversation with nature invokes intuitive ideas about human understanding and appreciation of value. The conversation develops practical ideas about how our entitlements affect our access to, and our relationships with, other constituents of the natural world. It also helps us to develop a sense of obligation towards the natural world. These less formalised aspects of responsibility are shaped by, and give shape to, the more codified rights and duties that provide guidance on our re
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References

Allison, L. (1991) Ecology and Utility: The Philosophical Dilemmas of Planetary Management, Leicester, Leicester University Press.
BBC (2008) ‘The wrong way to a warmer world?’ [online], BBC News, 3 April, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/analysis/7328634.stm (accessed 15/4/10).
van den Born, R.J.G. (2008) ‘Rethinking nature: public visions in the Netherlands
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2.4 Summarising conversation as what matters

Brian Wynne suggests that fundamental dichotomies associated with environmental matters underpin modern society – society versus nature, the social versus the natural, social knowledge versus natural knowledge, expert knowledge versus lay knowledge (1996, p. 45). The metaphor of conversation helps to move us beyond these dichotomous constructs and allows us to focus more on the integral relationships enmeshed in nature matters, relationships that I would argue are central to environmental r
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2.3 Using conversation to construct environmental responsibility

If conversation is a creative exercise, in what sense might this be applied to the concept of responsibility around climate change? As David Cooper implies (Box 3), global ideas about the environment, such as climate change, are necessarily abstract and therefore lack the meaning and significance required to nurture appropriate respo
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