Navigation Links
Ethical issues ignored in teaching, research of sustainability
Date:7/1/2010

Just about everyone agrees that sustainability cutting energy use, reducing carbon emissions and, in general, keeping the Earth green is a good thing. But why do we think that? Do we support sustainability for the right reasons?

These are among the questions that Michigan State University's Michael Nelson addresses in a paper published this month in the journal Bioscience titled "Sustainability: Virtuous or Vulgar?"

Specifically, Nelson and co-author John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University argue that the issue of ethics is a vital component in the teaching and research of sustainability, but one that is sorely lacking.

"This debate," they write, "has almost entirely neglected a fundamental dimension of sustainability the ethical dimension. Lack of attention to the ethical dimension of sustainability is stifling progress toward sustainability."

Or, as Nelson puts it: "If we don't know where we're going, we won't know when we get there."

Nelson said that from the educational perspective, it's important that all aspects of sustainability are covered.

"Everything we do sends messages to our students," he said. "We see our students as people who will go out and do important things in this world. It's important how we nurture that."

The ultimate question, the authors say, is this: "Do we care about ecosystem health because ecosystems are intrinsically valuable, or do we care about ecosystem health because it serves human interests?"

While a question such as this is difficult to answer, Nelson said that "we are unlikely to achieve sustainability without knowing what it means."

In their paper, Nelson and Vucetich consider the most widely appreciated definitions of sustainability, which indicate at least roughly that sustainability is "meeting human needs in a socially just manner without depriving ecosystems of their health."

While the definition seems quite specific, it could mean anything from "exploit as much as desired without infringing on the future ability to exploit as much as desired" to "exploit as little as necessary to maintain a meaningful life."

"From a single definition rises two wildly disparate views of a sustainable world," said Vucetich. "Handling these disparate views is the inescapable ethical crisis of sustainability."

"The crisis results from not knowing what we mean by value-laden terms like 'ecosystem health' and 'human needs,'" Nelson said. "In other words, is ecosystem health defined by its ability to meet human needs only, or does ecosystem health define the limits of human need?"


'/>"/>

Contact: Tom Oswald
tom.oswald@ur.msu.edu
517-281-7129
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. NHGRI funds new Centers for Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research
2. Alternative food networks connect ethical producers and consumers and can lead to healthier eating
3. Reprogramming the debate: stem-cell finding alters ethical controversy
4. Synthetic Biology: funders move to address social and ethical challenges
5. Human embryonic stem cells developed from 4-cell embryo; world first may lessen ethical concerns
6. Human Microbiome Project awards funds for technology development, data analysis and ethical research
7. Dolphin cognitive abilities raise ethical questions, says Emory neuroscientist
8. AMP commends SACGHS whole genome sequencing focus, raises ethical questions and forms working group
9. Chloroplast f and m Thioredoxins Discovered in Nonphotosynthetic Tissues
10. 200 journals join in theme issues on poverty and human development
11. Knocking out cell receptor may help block fat deposits in tissues, prevent weight gain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/4/2017)... thousands of attendees at this year,s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), ... devices and services, will be featuring its new line of ULTRA CONNECT ... special CES Exhibit Suite , the new upper arm and wrist smart ... product platform.  Continue Reading ... ...
(Date:12/22/2016)... , December 22, 2016 SuperCom (NASDAQ: ... secure solutions for the e-Government, Public Safety, HealthCare, and Finance sectors ... SuperCom, has been selected to implement and deploy a community-based supportive ... Northern California , further expanding its presence in the ... This new ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... Dec. 16, 2016   IdentyTechSolutions America LLC ... products and solutions and a cutting-edge manufacturer of ... it is offering seamless, integrated solutions that comprise ... products. The solutions provide IdentyTech,s customers with combined ... facilities from crime and theft. "We ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Nipro Corporation (Osaka, Japan) and Transonic Systems Inc. (New York, ... exclusive marketing and sales rights for all non-OEM Transonic products in Japan. As partners ... the new Nipro - Transonic JV is a natural next step to advance best ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... , Jan. 21, 2017   Boston Biomedical ... compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, today presented ... compound, napabucasin, at the 2017 American Society of Clinical ... Francisco . In a Phase ... agent designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 20, ... ... in Less Exposure Surgery (LES®) Technologies, announced today the next evolution in ... Pedicle Screw System platform). In contrast to the competition, SpineFrontier is focused ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... DUBLIN , Jan 19, 2017 Research and ... has announced the addition ... - Material, Application - Forecast to 2025" report to ... The report provides a detailed analysis on current ... Market forecasts till 2025, using estimated market values as the base numbers ...
Breaking Biology Technology: