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Environmental Ethics

HR 5113-492
Kathryn Augsburger
Ryan Clancy
Clarissa David
Michael James
Deborah Newman
Dylan Newman
Jennifer Williams

Global Problems and Statistics
Global Solutions

African perspectives


It is undeniable that the world is in need of a global ethic to

improve human conditions on an international, community,

and personal level. But there is also a great need for a global
ethic to preserve and improve the conditions of the natural
We are defining the natural environment as the planet earth
and all of the life (human and non-human) that inhabits it, as
well as our natural resources and climate. The focus of this
presentation is to show how the various major religions of the
modern world view the environment and our suggestions on
how to conserve, protect, and prevent further deterioration of
our planet by focusing on our energy consumption in the
United States.
The following slides will give an account of how the major
world religions regard the natural environment and our
responsibility to respect it. It will cover the Christian, Jewish,
Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Bahai, and African

Global Problems and

There are many major environmental problems right now. One of

these problems is that the accelerated greenhouse effect is

increasing global warming and that global warming is greatly
effecting our environment. Warmer seasons and more severe
storms are just two examples of how the change in our
environment is affecting our everyday lives and the lives of others
around the world. One of the main focuses in improving this
aspect of the environment needs to be on energy consumption,
production and the types of energy we use.
The United States plays a major role in global energy
consumption, but unfortunately we are not as successful in our
energy production. Though accounting for only 5 percent of the
world's population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world's
energy. The United States is the world's largest single emitter of
carbon dioxide, accounting for 23 percent of energy-related carbon
emissions worldwide. Increased carbon emissions are one of the
major factors in global warming.

Global Problems and Statistics

In a 1998 study done by the USGS showed

that the United States is consuming much

more energy than it is able to produce. As
seen on chart 1-1, it consumes about half
as much oil as the rest of the world.




% U.S. Total

Natural Gas

Calculated on a Btu basis

18.92 million barrels/day

73.6 million barrels/day

40 %

21.34 tcf/year

82.2 tcf/year

23 %

1.04 billion tons/year

5.01 billion tons/year

23 %

Global Problems and Statistics


Global Problems and Statistics

There are many ways that we can reduce the amount of oil, coal

and natural gases we use and still have plenty of energy to use
that wont deplete the environment. There are many alternative
energy sources rapidly being developed. These include Biomass
(using plant matter and biodegradable waste to produce energy),
geothermal technologies (using energy from the earths core),
hydrogen fuel cells, solar energy, wind and hydropower, all of which
provide different ways of producing energy that will help to reduce
the acceleration of the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Unfortunately, only 7.5 percent of total U.S. energy consumption
came from renewable sources in 1998.
Worldwide, some 2 billion people are currently without electricity.
By channeling the energy from the sun, wind and water, not only
could there be an infinite amount of energy, but countries around
the world could be able to supply their own energy sources without
having to rely on others to produce them. For the 2 billion people
without access to electricity, it would be cheaper to install solar
panels than to extend the electrical grid.

Global Solutions
The global community is embracing this crisis but most of the

nations who are taking an active stance are the industrialized

nations. This is just as the industrialized nations are causing a
majority of the air and water pollution.
As emphasis on personal responsibility is important, but
difficult to enforce. Several countries around the world have
come up with a plethora of legislation to limit pollution
amongst businesses and citizens. This is important for
several reasons:
Incentives matter. This is not only true for businesses but for
Property rights are not only a necessary condition for market
exchange, but for protection of the environment. Rights must be
well defined, divestible, and defendable.
Governments can establish markets that allow companies to
utilize technologies that are sleeker and more efficient. In turn,
reducing harmful pollutants.
Well defined rights, incentives, and appropriate consequences
allow for companies to not only take care of the earth today, but
in the future as well.

Global Solutions (cont)

Some examples of what the world is doing:

The European Union (EU) established a Emissions Trading

Scheme which is a market based solution for states to reach
the appropriate output level of green house gases.
New Zealand is beginning to levy a carbon tax for each
metric ton of carbon dioxide that is emitted beginning 1 Apr
2007. It is rumored to bring in $360 million dollars its first
Germany is boasting that it gets 363 of its 410.5 megawatts of
power from solar power. That means that the total EU use of
solar power is over 1,000 megawatts!
Amidst Chinas struggle to gain more power to fuel its
economy, their National Development and Reform commission
has committed to clean energy resources over the next 20
years which includes solar, bio-gas, and geothermal energy.
The world (over 160 countries) adopts the Kyoto protocol.
This establishes targets in reduction of greenhouse gases by
specific years. The next big target year for reduction is 2008.

Global Solutions (cont)

There are many steps that we can take on a personal level as

well, as we wait for these alternative energy sources to

improve and hopefully replace our current energy sources. You
can help to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which in turn
reduces global warming, by using energy more wisely. Here are
9 simple actions you can take to help reduce global warming.

1) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

2) Insulate Your Home
3) Be Thrifty with Heating and Cooling
4) Leave the Car at Home Whenever You Can
5) Buy Energy-Efficient Products
6) Turn Down Your Appliances
7) Dont Leave the Water Running
8) Get a Report Card from Your Utility Company
9) Be an Informed Consumer


Rotation of crops
Because they were created in Hisimage,God gavemen

and women a privileged place among all creatures and

commanded them to exercise stewardship over the earth
(Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:6-8)
Pope John Paul II The Key challenge is "not only to limit the
damage which has already been done, and apply remedies,
but especially to find approaches to development which are
in harmony with respect and protection for the natural
Pope Benedict XVI - "Environmental degradation makes poor
people's existence intolerable."

Fair Share

To share the bread is to live in communion. And to share

the world is somehow to live in communion. (Henrik Grape,

sermon, 5 Oct 06)

Christianity (cont)
Question of Responsibility
Gods Plan

The primary problem with extreme forms reject the Biblical

concept that this current earth is not permanent

The Earth was not meant to last forever "But the day of the
Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass
away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved
with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be
burned up." (2 Peter 3:13)
People should be careful not to worship the Earth, for that is
close to idolatry

Human Disregard

The root of the risk of dangerous climate change from

industrial civilizations profligate use of fossil fuel is sin.

(Report of the Theology working group at the Flmsltt

Christianity (cont)
Christian Environmental Rights Groups
Christian Environmental Association - "Serving the Earth, Serving the
Target Earth - The service trips are holistic, combining a desire to share the
love of Jesus while caring for the earth and the people who inhabit it. The
short-term service opportunities are offered in 14 countries.
The Eden Conservancy - Buys up endangered lands - caring for creation
one acre at a time. Individuals, churches and schools raise funds to secure
rain forest at $100.00 per acre. Currently, 8,000 acres is being purchased in
Belize in partnership with the Belize Audubon Society
European Christian Environmental Network - Address the environmental
concerns implicit in the biblical command to work and to care for God's
creation. A network to share and work togethera European Environmental
Christian Ecology Link The UKs leading Christian environmental group
California Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) - Educates churches, including
many Catholic parishes, on how to make a dent in global warming while
promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation. The group
also indorses the Oil Tax Initiative to reduce consumption by 25% over the
next 10 years.

Care Takers
"Year of the Environment: Sept 1993 - Aug 1994
(The Center for Judaism and the Environment

Govt sponsored activities devoted to increasing the

public's environmental awareness
Laws passed to reduce pollution and other
environmental problems

The Center for Judaism and the Environment at the

Jerusalem College of Technology (Centre for Science

and Environment Webpage)
Involved in various activities aimed at strengthening
and expanding Jewish education, raising environmental
awareness and showing how Judaism and the
environment are intrinsically linked

Judaism (cont)
Question of Responsibility
Judaism has very powerful teachings related to the

"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" ( Psalm

Bal tashchit (based on Deuteronomy 20:19,20) - People are
not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value
"When in your war against a city you have to besiege it
a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy
its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of
them, but you must not cut them down. (Source)
The talmudic sages were greatly concerned about
preserving the environment and reducing pollution (Source)

God uses of nature:

The Noah and the Flood

The Ten Plagues
Tree of Good and Evil

Slide Source: Gerstenfeld,

Judaism and the
Environment, 2000

Judaism (cont)
Israel and the Environment
Religious and National Interest Conflict:
Rapid population growth; Rapid industrialization
Environmental concerns ignored for yearssecurity
top priority

Environment Problems:
Jerusalem Post article "Rivers of Darkness" indicated
most of Israel's rivers are much more polluted than
rivers in Europe and US
Solid waste crisis due to discharge of increasing
amounts of garbage yearly
Less than 5% of the garbage in Israel is recycled
Slide Source: Schwartz,
Environmental Issues in

Care Takers (Govt)
Environment Protection Act (1986): created the

Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF);

strengthening India's commitment to the environment
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is an
independent, public interest organization which aims
to increase public awareness on science, technology,
environment and development. The Centre was
started in 1980
CSE promotes solutions for Indias numerous
environmental threats of ecological poverty;
extensive land degradation; rapidly growing toxic
degradation of uncontrolled industrialization; economic
growth on the other
Slide Source: Country Analysis

Brief. India, 2004

Hinduism (cont)
Care Takers (Priesthood)
Before the foundation of a building is dug, a priest is

invited to perform the Bhoomi Pooja in order to worship

and appease mother earth and seek forgiveness for
violating her
Hindu prayer called Shanti path recited to conclude
every Hindu ceremony, reflect the Hindus
connectedness with nature

Question Responsibility

Hindus first perceived Gods presence around

them through nature
To please God, Hindus felt they must live in
harmony with His creation including earth, rivers,
forests, sun, air, and mountains

Slide Source: Adhopia,

Hinduism (cont)
India and the Environment
India's ongoing population explosion and its
move toward urbanization and
industrialization has placed great strain on
the country's environment
Deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution and
land degradation

1984 Bhopal Disaster: a toxic leak from the

city's Union Carbide chemical plant resulted
in the deaths of more than 3,000 people
Environmental awareness and activism in India
increased significantly

Slide Source: Country Analysis

Brief. India, 2004

Relationship between God and Earth

Whithersoever you turn, there is the face of God

Earths creatures exists in reverence of God; Everything on earth

worships the same God.
Everything in nature is a sign of God and as such, it is continuously
praising him
Nature is similar to that of a mirror which reflects the power, heart, and
wisdom of its Creator


Everything has been created by measure and has an order

Everything is interdependent with everything else
The earth is not for one generation but for every generation, past, present
and future and that would include humans as well as other creatures on this
earth. (Quran, 2:22)
The Environment is Gods creation. The creation of the earth and all its
natural resources is a sign of His wisdom, mercy, power, and His other
attributes and therefore serves to develop human awareness and
understanding of this creator. (Quran 13: 2-4; 21:79)
O people! Worship your Lord, Who hat created you and those before you,
so that you may ward off (evil), Who hath appointed the earth a restingplace for you, and the sky a canopy; and causeth water to pour down from
the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you. (Quran 2:21)

Islam (cont)
Gods Plan

Humans are created beings who act as agents of God on Earth

Humans should/must take into account the interconnectedness of all

nature when dealing and interacting with the natural environment

Muslims should seek to protect and preserve the environment because by
so doing, they protect Gods creatures which pray to Him and praise Him.
Stewardshipness includes the maintainness and utilization of the natural
environment in accordance with what God created these things for, and
to take into account the order and the ecological balance of nature on the
It is the lot of man to share in the deeper aspirations of the universe
around him and to shape his own destiny as well as that of the
universe, now by putting the whole of his energy to mould its forces
to his own ends and purposes. And in the process of progressive
change of God becomes a co-worker with him, providing man takes
the initiative

Human Disregard

The main purpose of human beings is nothing else but to serve God, to be
grateful to Him, and to worship Him alone. Human beings are invited to
use this opportunity for the good and not to corrupt the Earth
and do not cause corruption in the earth,when it has been in

Relationship between Buddhism and the Environment
Karma and rebirth (cyclic existence)
Buddhists believe not in a creator, but in beings fashioning their destiny by their own

Living creatures perform virtuous or non-virtuous actions when create predispositions for
rebirth in any of the six realms of cyclic existence
Virtuous actions bring about pleasant rebirths in the upper realms of gods, demigods and men
Non-virtuous deeds bring about suffering and rebirth in the animal, hungry ghosts,
and hell-beings realsm
Attain Buddhahood in order to liberate all sentient beings from the sufferings of the
cyclic existence
When beings have exhausted the karma which caused their rebirth in a particular
realm, in dependence on other accumulated karma, they take rebirth in another
realm, wandering endlessly which the limits of cyclic existence until they find a way
out to liberation or Buddhahood

Six Realms
Though men and animals are the only tones ordinarily perceived by humans, others such

as demi-gods and hungry ghosts are believed to be present in the human realms greatly
influencing many aspects of animal life, thus they should be treated equally
The rationale for universal compassion is based on the same principle of spiritual
democracy. It is the recognition of the fact that every living being has an equal right to
and desire for happiness. (The Dalai Lama on Compassion)

Buddhism (cont)
Question of Responsibility
Buddhas Plan

Among all creatures of the six realms, humans are the most

fortunate and have the best opportunity for attaining the ultimate
At the heart of Buddhist philosophy is the notion of compassion for
others (The Dalai Lama on Compassion)
Rituals which please the local deities and ensure harmonious
natural conditions
Therefore, in order to achieve more effective environmental
protection and conservation, internal balance within the human
being himself or herself is essential. (The Dalai Lama on

Buddhism (cont)
Human Disregard
Since humans cannot survive without some form of land
exploitation and building, Tibetans take certain measures to
prevent unnecessary mishaps:

Prayer flags
When choosing a site for building, a lama is consulted as to the method
by which the nagas and sa-dag (guardian deities dwelling in individual
places) might be appeased and treated
Limit mining and exploitation of natural resources to avoid disrupting not
only the animal life and ecological system, but the unseen creatures
believed to dwell at the site
Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed
and lack of respect for the earths living things. (The Dalai Lama on the
This lack of respect extends even to the earths human descendants, the
future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace
does not become a reality, and if destruction of the natural environment
continues at the present rate (The Dalai Lama on Humanity and Ecology)

Values Constitute Key Elements:
Promoting harmony amidst change
Embeddedness of each person in concentric circles of

relationships and ethical responsibilities, the importance

of the family including past, present, and future
Function of a hierarchical social system where loyalties
to elders and to teachers are critical; the significance of
education in cultivating the individual, enriching the
society, and contributing to the political order
Value history as an element of civilizational continuity
and moral rectification.

Confucianism (cont)
Question of Responsibility
See nature as intrinsically valuable and for understanding
the role of the human in relation to natural processes as

Human livelihood and culture was seen as continuous with

nature, as the following passage by a leading Han

Confucian, Tung Chung-shu (c. 179c.104 BCE), indicates:
Heaven, earth, and humans are the basis of all creatures.
Heaven gives them birth, earth nourishes them, and humans
bring them to completion.
Heaven provides them at birth with a sense of filial and
brotherly love, earth nourishes them with clothing and food,
and humans complete them with rites and music. The
three act together as hands and feet join to complete the
body and none can be dispensed with.

The Taoist classic The Way and Its Power (tao te jing) gives this advice against the
artificial exacerbation of our desires:
--No lure is greater than to possess what others want,
--No disaster greater than not to be content with what one has,
--No presage of evil greater than that men should be wanting to get more.
--Truly: He who has once known the contentment that comes simply through
being content, will never again be otherwise than contented.
Question of Responsibility
The Taoists suggest that the first step to enlightenment is in awareness of the
patterns of nature, both within our own body and mind and in the natural
environment that we usually think of as "outside". Nature can be for us a template, a
model, a paradigm, an anchor, a beacon.
The nature outside of Taoists can resonate with the natural patterns within and help us to
get back in touch with our natural selves. When humans destroy our natural environment
or make it unavailable for people to tune back into, humans destroy one of the most
precious healing resources for our civilization-jaded psyches.

Baha'i Faith

Bah'u'llh, the Prophet-founder of the Bah' Faith, said nature and all its

creations reflect the qualities and attributes of God

Essence of Bah' environmental approach is harmony of science and religion

There must be balanced approach to development that maintains a deep understanding

of the significance of the natural realm in the material and spiritual development of all

Material development is important to free us from the captivity of the world of

As long as man is captive to nature he is a ferocious animal struggling for existence.

The value of nature and its preservation cannot be expressed in sheer economic

Question of Responsibility

Gods Plan
Bah'u'llh wrote: "The earth is but one county, and mankind its citizens."
Mercy and compassion must be shown not only to human beings, but all living
creatures and cruelty to animals is prohibited.

Human Disregard
Bah'u'llh "If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as
it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.
Bah' International Community states the unfettered exploitation of planetary
natural resources is one symptom of a "sickness of the human spirit".

Bahai Faith Environmental Rights Groups

International Environment Forum (

African Religions

Live in harmony with nature and respect the environment

Nature is to be held sacred and used responsibly

If humans hurt nature, nature hurts them


African Charter to a Global Ethic includes; The Rights of Development:

Both in a cultural and environmental sense of development

Africans invented ways of using the environment for gain; swamp farming, crop
rotations, crop mixing, and iron tools such as axes and hoes.

They did not seek scientific improvement because they produced sufficient amounts
for their community and had no interest in mass production.

Question of Responsibility
The Plan

African cosmology, forces and phenomena of nature to grant mystical life

God communicates through dreams, visions and nature
Human Disregard
The African continent has been neglected by the masters of world economy, it
suffers from starvation and ethnic cleansing and its governments are falling
Today African nations are lost in the money oriented exploitation of natural

African Religions Environmental Groups

African Environment Outlook (http:// /)

As we continue to discuss dialogue and respect among each
other in search of a global ethic, it is imperative that we
apply this concept to other aspects of our life, including our
interaction with the environment. In the same way that we
need to expand our consciousness about other cultures and
religions we also need to expand our consciousness about
our natural surroundings. The same respect and mental
openness we use to learn from our dialogue with others
should be extended to our environmental surroundings. We
should also use dialogue with each other to derive a
successful way of conserving the planet and preventing
further deterioration. By working together we can develop
a global ethic that will help all life, not just human life, on
this planet.


US Energy Consumption. Maxwell School of Syracuse University. April 2006.

United States Energy and World Energy Production and Consumption Statistics. USGS
Central Region Energy Resource Team. 1998.

West, Larry. Top 10 Things You Can Do to Reduce Global Warming.
Environmental Issues. 2006.

Dahl, Arthur, L. (1997), Environmental Protection from a Baha'i Perspective. Retrieved

04 Aug 2003 from Bahai Library Online website: =

Landau, Richard (2002), Baha'i Faith and the Environment. Retrieved 05 Aug 2003
from Bahai Library Online website: =

Brooks, Amanda (2003), Religion of Africa. Retrieved 21 Nov 2003 from Geocities

References (cont)

Adhopia, Ajit. Hinduism Promotes Environment Protection. December 2, 2001.

Centre for Science and Environment Webpage

Country Analysis Brief. India: Environmental Issues. February 2004.

Environmental Issues in Israel by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Mathematics,

College of Staten Island.

Gerstenfeld, Dr. Manfred. Judaism and the Environment, Feb 20, 2000.

The Center for Judaism and the Environment

Stroup, R. L. (2003). Eco-nomics.

Eco-nomics. Washington D.C.: The Cato Institute.

Dien, Mawil Izzi, (1997), Islam and the Environment, theory, and practice. Journal of Beliefs and
Balues, No 1 Retrieved 14 Oct 2006 from the Captive Minds website:

References (cont)
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama(1986), An Ethical Approach to Environmental
Protection. Retrieved 10 Oct 2006 from The Government of Tibet in Exile

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, The Dalai Lama Speaking on Various Topics,
Retrieved 10 Oct 2006 from the Dharma Kara Website:

Ozdemir, Ibraham, Ph.D, An Islamic Perspective of Environmental Ethics,

Retrieved 14 Oct 2006 from from the Nur Website: Ethics.html

Yeshi, Kim, The Tibetan Buddhist view of the Environment, Retrieved 11 Oct
2006 from The Government of Tibet in Exile website: