Jamieson, Ch 7: Nature’s Future

DIFFERING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS AROUND THE GLOBE: WHO ARE THE BEST AND WORSE ENVIRONMENTAL CITIZENS?

1.      Ecological footprint analysis

a.      A person/country’s ecological footprint = Amount of land area required to (sustainably) produce the resources consumed and absorb the wastes generated (given its living standards and prevailing technology)

b.      Ecological Footprint (from David Orr, Ecological Design, 2002)

i.       Land required to grow our food, process our organic wastes, sequester our carbon dioxide, provide for our material needs, etc.

ii.      Average North American, requires 5 hectares arable land per person per year (12.5 acres, =200x300 yards) (1 hectare = 2.5 acres, 1 acre = 50x100 yards

iii.     At current population levels, world has only 1.2 hectares of useable land per person

iv.     Extending our lifestyle to everyone would require equivalent of two additional earths

c.      Calculate your own ecological footprint

2.      Commoner/Ehrlich’s IPAT formula

a.      I = PAT

b.      Impact (on environment) = population (times) affluence (=consumption) (times) technology

c.      Env. impact does not depend on a single variable (e.g., population) but on how various variables interact

d.      Different nations and people have very different impacts

3.      Population

a.      Population size is important, but only one factor in determining environmental impact

b.      Population has exploded in 20th century

i.       1 billion 1802

ii.      2 billion, 1927 (125 years later)

iii.     3 billion , 1961 (34 years later)

iv.     4 billion, 1973, (12 years later)

v.      5 billion, 1986 (13 years later)

vi.     6 billion, 1999 (13 years later)

c.       Population growth video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BbkQiQyaYc

d.       Current (2011) population, 6.9 billion (China 1.3B, India 1.1 B, U.S. 300 million)

i.        Growing at rate double in 61 years

ii.       8 billion by 2025, 99% increase in developing world

iii.      8 of 10 largest populations in developing world

e.       Much of 20th century population increase due to decline in mortality rates

i.        Nutritional improvements, control infectious disease, and creation of public health systems

ii.       All very good things!

f.       Fertility rates must decline

i.        To stabilize or reduce population rates in a morally acceptable way, need voluntary reductions in fertility (lifetime births per woman)

ii.       Been declining: 1960 average was 5, now 2.6

(1)     Many very poor countries have rates around 6 (Africa, Afghanistan)

(2)     China reduced rates from 6 to 1.73, India 6 to 2.73

(3)     Developed countries (U.S. 2.09, others 1.3 to 1.5)

iii.      Fertility rates controlled by economic factors, status of women, prevailing cultural values

4.       Affluence (consumption)

a.       Climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions one way to track affluence/consumption

i.        In general, greenhouse gas emissions closely associated with national incomes

b.       Large majority GHG come from rich countries

c.       But China is now world’s largest emitter of CO2

d.       Is China the world’s greatest polluter?

e.       Reason’s to reject the idea China earth’s greatest C02 polluter

i.        China produces many of goods consumed in Europe and North America, so these countries have large responsibility for this pollution

ii.       Need to look at per person pollution (not just total)

(1)     Americans emit 3-4 times (or ten times?) as much C02 per person as Chinese

5.       Technology

a.       How environmentally friendly or harmful technology is importantly affects environmental impact

i.        Consider a loaf of bread made via a solar cooker versus a electric oven powered by coal burning power plant

ii.       Consider a trip to work/store made by private auto versus public transportation or bike

b.       Jamieson measures technology friendly/harmful by tons of carbon emitted per \$1 million dollars of goods produced

i.        The more carbon emitted per good produced, the less environmentally friendly the technology

c.       Because rich countries have access to better technology, takes them fewer energy inputs to produce same amount of wealth

i.        More energy efficient, more env. friendly (in that respect)

ii.       U.S. 176 tons of carbon input to produce \$1 million output

iii.      India 514

iv.      China 749 (in 1980, figure was 2,407)

v.       U.K., 116

vi.      Italy, 100

vii.     Germany 84

viii.    France 61

ix.      Japan 56

6.       U.S. the worst environmentally: Jamieson’s conclusion about different environmental impacts of different countries

a.       In determining the size of a nation’s ecological footprint (its affect on environment), the vast differences in affluence/consumption overwhelm differences in technology and even population.

i.        Eco-footprint of U.S. 2 (1.5) times China, and 6 (3) times India

(1)     Because our per person footprint is much larger (6-9 than Chinese, 12-25 than Indian person)

ii.       American footprint twice that of European person

b.       American lifestyle: One person born in 1990s

i.        22 million pounds of liquid waste

ii.       2.2 million pounds of solid and atmospheric waste

iii.      4,000 barrels of oil

iv.      1.5 million pounds of minerals

v.       62,000 pounds of animal products (2,000 animals)

c.       If an American wants to minimize his environmental impact, most effective thing he can do is refrain from having children”

i.        “He can drive around in an SUV, hang out at McDonald’s, take long hot showers, and still have much less env impact that if he fathers one, good, green, nature-loving American child”

7.       Alternative ways to assess environmental impact (p. 189-90)

8.       If view nation/region as entitled to its natural wealth, then it is ratio of eco footprint to its natural wealth that is a better indicator of env. responsibility

a.       The idea is that a country’s rate of pollution/consumption can be higher and still env. more responsible, if it has greater natural wealth to consume from and absorb its waste

b.       Ecologically rich countries like Canada/Australia do much better than poor countries like China and India

9.       If look at what proportion of their local NPP regions appropriate (how much wild land remains per country/region)

i.        Humans appropriate about 40% of Earth’s terrestrial NPP = Net primary production - amount of biomass that remains after primary producers (e.g., plants, algae) have accounted for respiratory needs. Amount of biomass available for living organisms to use. One species (humans) using up 4/10 of this fundamental capacity of the earth’s land masses!

b.       North America does much better than South-Central Asia (23.7% versus 80.4%)

c.       Reasons to think this is superior environmental responsibility: Leaving more biomass/land/nature for nonhumans

d.       Or is this result of good luck in inhabiting a continent that is much more biologically productive?

e.       Of course not just luck, but also depends on land use practices and environmental policy

f.       But biological impoverishment of South-Central Asia affected by history of exploitation and imperialism

g.       Also, NPP appropriation that fuels North American and European lifestyle occurs offshore in developing world

h.       South America (6.1%) and Africa (12.4%) have appropriated the lowest percent of their NPP

i.        Europe (72.2%) is second highest

10.     Conclusions about human impact on earth

a.       “In late 1980s, humanity began to consume resources faster than Earth can regenerate them, gap is increasing every year”

b.       Planetary impacts of highly consumptive lifestyles in industrialized world can’t be generalized.

c.       Planet can’t stand many people who consume like Americans

d.       Questions of justice raised

RECENT HISTORY OR ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT AND POSSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL FUTURES

11.     History of environmental movement in 80s an 90s

a.       1983 U.N. Commission on Environment and Development led to 1987 Brundtland Commission report “Our Common Future”

b.       Defined sustainable development:

i.        “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”

c.       In 1980s Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and senator and presidential candidate Al Gore were leading environmental movement

i.        Gore wrote in Earth in the Balance: Ecology and The Human Spirit: “We must make rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization”

12.     Resulted in 1992 Rio Earth Summit (in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

a.       Largest gathering of national leaders ever held; thousands went

i.        Expectations this would change the world toward env. sustainability

b.       Some success, but overall disappointment

i.        Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted

(1)     American and Russian opposition prevented binding commitments on emissions reductions

ii.       Convention on Biodiversity adopted

(1)     U.S. refused to sign it and when later signed by Pres. Clinton, but U.S. Senate refused to ratify it

iii.      Attempt to create a global convention to protect forests failed due to opposition by developing countries.

iv.      Agenda 21–impressively detailed program for integrating env. protection and development adopted, but was non-binding and has been ignored

v.       Couldn’t agree on an Earth Charter (new global code of ethics governing humans relations with nature), instead adopted an incoherent and fairly innocuous set of principles called the Rio Declaration

vi.      Population problem never on the table because a coalition of U.S., Muslim, Catholic and developing countries

c.       Possibility in the 1980s and early 90s for serious world action on environmental problems never came to fruition

13.     Jamieson’s three scenarios for our environmental future

i.        Environmental catastrophe

ii.       Continuing and increasing global inequality and environmental degradation

iii.      A change in way of life of world’s most privileged people

iv.      These may intermingle

v.       Jamieson thinks one of these three (or combination) must happen, but others might deny this

(1)     For example they might believe all could live as Americans do with no env. catastrophe

(1) ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE

14.     A catastrophe for we humans and other living things, not the planet

a.       “Save the planet” language is misleading as planet will go on no mater what we do

b.       Ned thinks life will go on no matter what we do, not just the planet as a geological entity

i.        It is human life and the life of the current species that exist with us now that is in jeopardy

ii.       For human, it is the quality of their life in jeopardy, not the existence of the human species

15.     Whether we are currently experiencing an environmental catastrophe depends on where one lives, who one is, and one’s values

16.     Depends on who/where

a.       Everyday environmental problems cause death and destruction to vast numbers of humans and other animals

b.       If one depends on the Aral sea for one’s livelihood, one is now living through an env. catastrophe

c.       If one is a Great Ape being hunted for bush meat in Africa, living through an env. catastrophe

d.       If one lives in a tony (=rich) suburb of U.S. or Australia, you’re doing just fine

17.     Depends on values

a.       Many ecologists think that species extinctions and biodiversity loss under way now are early stages of environmental catastrophe

b.       Other’s deny biodiversity loss matters:

i.        Rush Limbaugh on endangered Northern Spotted Owl: “If the owl can’t adapt to the superiority of humans, screw it”

c.       Even with many species extinct, many people will continue to have quite good lives in their own eyes

18.     But a catastrophe is likely (and perhaps undeniable) given the increasing number of people in developing world leading the life of affluence of those in developed world (in terms of energy consumption, meat production, automobile ownership)

a.       If everyone lived as average American, we’d need 5.3 planets with resources of earth

(2) GLOBAL INEQUALITY AND ENV DEGRADATION CONTINUE/INCREASE

19.     We prevent env catastrophe implied by everyone living in same way as average American by making sure they do not

a.       Rich continue to be rich and poor continue to be poor

20.     Morally indefensible

21.     Nor a viable long term strategy:

22.     Preventing third world development not likely to work

a.       They will struggle against their development prospects being intentionally thwarted to protect quality of life in developed countries

b.       Given the imperative for global economic consumerism, not plausible to think we are trying (or will try) to stop this....

23.     Developing world in a position to do a great deal of damage to rich countries and what we value

a.       Weapons of mass destruction proliferate

b.       Ozone: Nine developing countries still manufacture ozone depleting chemicals and if don’t stop, ozone depletion will again be a threatening env problem.

c.       Biodiversity: Developing countries are custodians of much of world’s biodiversity and w/o their cooperation, much will be lost

d.       Climate: If China does not get more env friendly technologies, it will fuel its development with vast coal reserves (500 new coal powered plants being developed)

i.        Would be devastating to global environment

ii.       Not what China wants, but prefers it to remaining poor

24.     Deal possible: Rich countries set an example and help developing world develop in environmentally friendly way

a.       Developing countries develop in a way that leapfrogs polluting, resource-intensive way Europe and America developed

i.        Move to highly efficient, sustainable technologies of future

b.       Developed world will–to a large extent--have to develop, provide and pay for this new technology

c.       Rich countries will have to set an example by reducing own consumption and moving towards sustainability

(3) CHANGE IN WAY OF LIFE OF WORLD’S MOST PRIVILEGED PEOPLE

25.     Europeans seem to be willing

a.       Committed themselves to reduce GHG emissions and put themselves at a competitive disadvantage with respect to U.S. which refuses to control own emissions

i.        U.S. now (2010) beginning to control emissions: EPA to Regulate Greenhouse Gases (Congress is fighting this)

b.       Adopted important environmental laws

i.        Germany’s take back law: Law requiring manufacturers to be responsible for products through entire life cycle (take them back when consumers done with them)

(1)     Like a bottle bill for everything!

ii.       London’s congestion pricing system reduced traffic and air pollution

26.     Will Americans reduce consumption, increase efficiency, and move towards sustainability?

27.     Reasons for being pessimistic

a.       President Bush (2nd) told us to go shopping to defeat terrorism

b.       President Clinton “it’s the economy stupid” mantra that led to his success

c.       President Reagan: “Conservation means that we’ll be hot in the summer and cold in the winter”

d.       President Bush (1st) at Rio Earth Summit: “The American way of life is not negotiable”

e.       President Carter, the most env friendly president, told us we are going to have to change (“too many of us are obsessed with consumption”); he was not re-elected

f.       We are remarkably materialistic; obsessed with wealth

g.       Economic and growth indicators permeate our lives

i.        Environmental concern loses out because seen as inconsistent with economic growth and supposed comforts it brings

28.     Europeans (unlike Americans) have been willing to give up some economic growth for other values

a.       Although sometimes there are win-win synergies between economic growth and environmental protection, Europeans have show willingness to sacrifice growth for environment

b.       Greater leisure, more equality, less poverty, greater provision of public goods (e.g., opera houses, universal health care)

c.       In many ways they are better off than we are

i.        Europeans work about 20% less than Americans and many have legal right to one month paid vacation

ii.       Average American takes 2 weeks, sometimes w/o pay

29.     American’s obsession with economic growth and wealth is foolish as

30.     Wealth is not good indicator of happiness

a.       Past a basic level wealth does not make people happy (rather love, companionship and meaningful activities do)

31.     John Stuart Mill’s argument for stationary state economy and more simple living (and anti-materialism) as key to happiness (p. 201-202)

a.       Necessary for wildness

i.        Continuous economic growth will wipe out the wildness of nature, we will live in a world with no spontaneous nature and solitude in the presence of natural beauty and grandeur will be gone

b.       Stationary economy (lack of economic growth) does not entail lack of human improvement

i.        Lots of room for all kinds of mental culture and moral and social progress; much room for improving the art of living and much more likely it will be improved

32.     American materialism is a recent phenomenon: Celebration of consumption is a departure from main themes of American life and history

a.       Founders of this country emphasized virtues of thrift, prudence and simplicity

i.        Ben Franklin’s virtue of frugality: “Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing”

b.       Many in 60s took pride in minimal rather than conspicuous consumption

c.       1970s environmental slogans “Small is beautiful” “Live simply so others may simply live”

d.       America was the global environmental leader until 1980s.

33.     Serious difficulties in moving American toward reduced consumption and increased efficiency

a.       High resource loads built into almost everything consumed in U.S.

b.       Recycling and volunteerism are not enough

c.       Political barriers to change exist

i.        Cost of present lifestyles pushed onto future generations, other nations, or onto nature

ii.       Those who would lose from transition to sustainability are well organized and well represented while those who would benefit are not

34.     Possibility of hope

a.       Unforseen end of communism: People power movements that brought down communism caught people by surprise

b.       Ban smoking in public places exploded years after it was known to be a serious problem

c.       Maybe prospects of environmentalism can have such a dramatic change

35.     Action at many different levels needed

a.       Individual action important in part because it’s a signal to politicians

b.       Churches, env. groups, media, are important in mobilizing change

c.       Government action is necessary

i.        Via regulatory power

ii.       Ability to alter market behavior

(1)     Markets extremely important

OBLIGATIONS TO FUTURE GENERATIONS

36.     Most claim they care about future generations

a.       Some studies suggest it’s the primary motivation for env. concern

37.     Which future generations?

a.       Those near us in time

i.        Directly related to us (our children and their children)

ii.       Share circumstances and experiences

iii.      Can identify with them

iv.      After two or three generations, this concern fails

b.       Further future

i.        These future people are not identifiable individuals

ii.       With projects we can identify with

iii.      Live in a world difficult to imagine

iv.      They will, nonetheless, have to live with our nuclear waste and the climate change we are causing

38.     Reasons to be skeptical that we have strong duties to those in further future

a.       They will be progressively better off and so sacrifice by us makes no sense (something economists typically assume)

i.        Just like we are better off than those who came before us

ii.       They will benefit from investments of those before them

iii.      Any sacrifice we make for them is a transfer from those worse off to those who are better off

b.       Can’t anticipate the preferences of those who will live in further future

i.        Will they be interested in whales or wilderness, rather than virtual reality or some other source of satisfaction we can’t now imagine?

c.       They will have substitutes:

i.        Sacrificing to preserve energy sources or limited commodity stocks (minerals) is foolish if technological changes result in cheap substitutes for them

d.       Asymmetry of our relations with them undermines reciprocity

i.        We have enormous causal power over them, they have little power over us (except perhaps messing with our graves)

ii.       Undermines reciprocity (I have a duty to you only in so far as you have a duty to me)

(1)     We gift them accumulated capital (cities, farms, technology), yet we receive nothing in return

(2)     Groucho Marx: Why should I do anything for posterity? What has posterity even done for me?

e.       Unclear how to think about whether the world we create for the future will be good or bad for those people

i.        Manhattan (NY City) analogy with past argument

(1)     Was the transformation of Manhattan island from rich natural paradise to the vibrant, architecturally impressive, culturally rich and diverse city it is today good or bad for Jamieson (who lives in NY city)

(2)     Much of what makes his life go better/worse presupposes the way the city is today

(3)     How compare his life today with life he would have lived in the wilderness of Manhattan?

(4)     If this question can’t be answered, then can’t also answer whether future people will be better or worse off in possible worlds we create for them

ii.       Worries:

(1)     Maybe argument works when compare NY city with wilderness, but would not work if compare wilderness with starving, aids-ridden, environmentally polluted communities in Africa today

(2)     If we give the future something as different from today as NY City is from a wilderness and it is something good (like NY City), his worry makes sense

(3)     Does not make sense if what we give them is horrible living conditions.

iii.      Parfit’s non-identity problem:

(1)     Because whether we pursue environmentally responsible or environmentally irresponsible policies will determine which people exist (because it determines who marries whom) and so as long as future people have lives worth living, hard to see how they can complain about any policies we have followed (p. 192-93)

iv.      Response to Parfit’s non-identity problem: Use consequentialism (utilitarianism) not deontology/rights/duties to specific individuals approach

(1)     We can stop worrying about whether future we create is good or bad for the particular people that come into existence then and ask instead is this a good or bad future (is this a world that is a positive world when compared to alternative worlds we could create?)

(2)     This is assessing the future in consequentialist/utilitarian terms (how much good we produce) rather than in deontological terms (do we fulfill our duties to specific individuals)

39.     Jamieson accepts duties to those in further future

a.       “Despite these arguments, most of us think we do have duties to those who will live in the further future, even if our motivation sometimes flags”

QUESTIONS OF JUSTICE

40.     Jamieson a “Social Ecologist”

a.       Believes environmental and social problems (like poverty and injustice) in interrelated and must be solved together

41.     Global inequality and poverty: Differences in per person eco footprint of people in developed and developing countries expressions of global inequality and distribution of poverty

a.       1/6 of world (including many in India and China) live highly consumptive lifestyles like most Americans and Europeans

b.       2/6 face a constant challenge in meeting basic nutritional needs

42.     Because so many people live on edge, humanitarian disasters are predictable fact of life

a.       Poor always harmed more by env. and other disasters (e.g., Katrina)

b.       W/o aggressive action to mitigate climate change, 100s of millions of additional people will slip over edge and be of risk from hunger, malaria, flooding, water shortages

c.       Most who will suffer will be poor in future generations

TRAVAILS OF THE BIOSPHERE: ASSESSING THE EXTENT OF ENV. PROBLEMS

43.    Nature is in trouble

a.      Biodiversity is under siege

b.      Climate is changing

c.      Ozone hole not yet healed

d.      Quality of human life at risk from

i.       New infectious diseases

ii.      Pollution of air, food, water

iii.     Loss of wildness and connection to nature

e.      1000 scientists, four year study: “The ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted”

44.    Nature not a stable, equilibrium system, but a constantly changing one

a.      Sometimes these changes dramatic:

i.       65 million years ago a giant meteor crashed into Yucatan Peninsula, killing off the dinosaurs and allowing the emergence of humans

b.      Human civilization emerged in a relatively quite period of earth’s history

c.      Human’s challenge not to preserve and protect stable equilibrium-seeking systems, but rather to cope with change

d.      Humans must lean to live with profound changes we ourselves are causing.

45.    Climate change (and sea level rise)

a.      Global warming will be faster at the poles

b.      Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets already melting faster than most scientists thought possible

i.       If they completely melt, sea level would rise 70 meters

c.      6 meter sea level rise would destroy much of Florida and Gulf Coast

d.      1 meter rise inundate all major cities on East Coast of U.S.

e.      Volume of oceans expand as they warm, and this alone will increase sea levels by 25 centimeters (10 inches)

f.       Takes years for impact of greenhouse gas (=GHG) emissions to be felt

g.      Rather than stabilizing GHG emissions, we continue to increase them about 3% a year

h.      Continue on business as usual, can expect warming about 3 degrees centigrade (5-6 degrees Fahrenheit)

i.       Last time earth this warm sea levels were more than 24 meters higher

46.    Humans are dramatically changing the planet

a.      We have a profound ability to remake the global environment in ways we don’t understand

b.      These dramatic anthropogenic changes are already well under way

47.    Vitousek’s 1997 article: We live on a human dominated planet

a.      Between 1/3 and ½ earth’s land surface transformed by human action

b.      30% increase in C02 in atmosphere since 1850

c.      More nitrogen is fixed by humanity than all other terrestrial organisms combined

d.      Over ½ of surface fresh water on planet is appropriated by humans

e.      1/4 of earth’s bird species driven to extinction

48.    Vitousek’s 1986, NPP article: Humans appropriate about 40% of Earth’s terrestrial NPP

a.      NPP = Net primary production - amount of biomass that remains after primary producers (e.g., plants, algae) have accounted for respiratory needs

b.      Amount of biomass available for living organisms to use

c.      One species (humans) using up 4/10 of this fundamental capacity of the earth’s land masses!

d.      HARDIN’S LIFEBOAT ETHICS

49.     Garrett Hardin’s life boat ethics argument against feeding the hungry (pp. 193-94)

a.       Tragedy of the Commons: Each herder has an incentive to add an extra animal, because the herder individually gains all the benefit while sharing the cost with all other herders. Result is degradation of the pasture

i.        Tragedies of Commons source of most/many of our env. problem (pollution, land degradation, fisheries collapse)

b.       Hardin suggests lifeboat analogy (instead of seeing us as on a spaceship sharing the resources and fate of the planet together and resulting in tragedy of commons)

i.        60 max capacity, 50 people on board now, 100 in water who will drown if they can’t get in

ii.       Could put all in boat and all drown

iii.      Could let in 10, lose boat’s safety factor and face question of who to let in

iv.      Could admit no one to boat and fight off those who try to get on (one Hardin recommends)

(1)     Is this like closing our borders to immigrants looking for a better life?

c.       Food aid to hungry displays flawed logic of unregulated commons: Gives benefits to individuals w/o imposing responsibilities

i.        Result: Population receiving food aid breeds up to the next crisis point, where again requires food aid

ii.       Cycle repeats until people can’t or won’t provide any more food aid

iii.      Then much larger population will starve, and the more food aid provided, the more will starve (as more people brought into existence by food aid)

d.       Critique: Hardin thinks of food aid as charity but what we need is redistribution of wealth which is a matter of justice

i.        Poor countries/peoples entitled to resources and rich are wrong not to respond

ii.       Hardin admits current world order based on injustices, so not providing aid would be unjust, but it is still the right thing to do as more people will die if we give this aid

e.       Solution: Provide developmental assistance, not solely food aid

i.        “Instead of giving starving people a fish to eat, teach them to fish”