I was in the group that presented Pollution, and I have chosen to relate our presentation on pollution to that of Wilderness Preservation (1). Throughout this course my personal environmental ethic has become stronger, in that the moral value I place on the biological community was strong, but now my philosophy has been reaffirmed with concepts and theories that have given me a better grasp and understanding of the problems our environments faces and ways to go/avoid proceeding for our future. The common theme throughout both of the subjects is humans and our destruction of nature. I believe we as rational human being have a moral obligation to respect all aspects of life and land. Whether we fully understand its purpose or not we need to respect role everything has in our world.
In most of the arguments made by the authors for both pollution and wilderness preservation readings, there is an anthropocentric view. I think we should take a point from Leopold’s Land Ethic to understand that human are self-interested by nature, and then move on to concentrate on how we can change policies and procedures to live more respectfully with the biotic community and make the necessary steps needed to a more sustainable, cleaner, and healthier environment.
The concept of wilderness itself has been define by The U.S. Wilderness Act, which states that wilderness is “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The idealistically the majority believes that major reason for lands that have been preserved by our government was to keep it healthy, intact and prevent any destruction or pollution by development/industrialization. After reading the presentation I found the lands preserved were because they were of no economic value to us accept esthetically beautiful. However, pollution is a major concern now to people who want to preserve and rehabilitate land to a natural healthy state. Mathew’s let-it-be concept would have us completely some and further modernization and allow nature to return itself back to a state of well-being. I think this is too extreme, just as I believe Baxter’s humanist approach was too extreme on the other end of the spectrum. Baxter had no regard for pollution prevention and in fact encourages polluting the environment if it meant the progression of humans in society. Both concepts are completely impractical for society to adopt. I think the most appealing and practical concept to the subjects of wilderness preservation and pollution is, the biosphere reserve. The biosphere reserve was conveyed in the wilderness preservation (1) presentation as such, “These reserves are selected not on the basis that they are gorgeous empty regions with no instrumental use to the capitalist society. Instead, these areas are selected on the basis of their ecological qualities and are intended to preserve the “biological diversity and ecosystem health” (Callicott, 440) of the natural world. I think this concept would appeal to French, Murdoch and Oaten.
French recognized the need for better policies regarding individual and corporate responsibility to clean air and less pollution globally. She does not propose the complete absolution of our way of life or industry, but emphasizes that measures need to be taken to undo the damage we’ve done to the air and prevent any further destruction which has caused major illness worldwide. Murdoch and Oates also recognize the plight that industry, overpopulation, and poverty has put on our environment and feel it is the wealthy countries’ obligation to intervene and change practices in poorer countries and educate them on how to live more sustainable lives. Therefore, if we could implement the biosphere reserves here in the U.S. as well as educate and facilitate third world countries to do the same, they would no longer be such huge contributors to pollution, and would become more able to sustain themselves without the help of foreign aid like food banks because they could finally utilize the resources of their own land efficiently.
I realize that implementing a biosphere reserve way of life would be hard because of the power capitalism and goal of profit has on our policies. This brings me to the topic that was not as blatantly relevant in wilderness preservation as it was in the discussions of pollution, which is racism. The concept to deal with this was presented by Wenz. He proposed the assignment of LULU (locally undesirable land uses) points. In his concept the control of wealth would be take away and they (those in rich communities) would be motivated/forced to find solutions to problems like hazardous waste disposal and decreasing/eliminating the production (just like was done with chlorofluorocarbons previously thought to be crucial in aerosol products), because they would now have these pollutants/toxins in their own communities, just as those in the economically impoverished areas. We humans have an obligation of responsibility to the entire biological community; this includes the people of different races, economic means, and countries. As we better the entire human species by holding ourselves accountable and taking actions in that regard, the environment can flourish.