Is the way we treat the environment an ethical issue?
Environmental issues can affect our lives in very serious ways, particularly if we live in developing countries. Many scientists suggest things will get much worse in the next 50 years. There is general agreement that we should make changes to the way we live our lives, and that governments should pass appropriate legislation, to reduce the damage done to the environment.
At the same time, many millions of people live without adequate access to education, healthcare, sanitation etc. They have a very poor quality of life that could be improved with increased development. Some people would argue that they have a right to develop to the same degree as westerners in Europe and North America.
Furthermore, to continue living as we do in the West means continued destruction of the environment and use of natural resources. Even if the population of the world wasn't increasing, the world could not sustain our current standard of living indefinitely.
How do we balance the desires of people living in developed countries, the needs of the developing world, and the well-being of the environment in which we all live? Can ethics help us to answer questions about the environment?