How much can we regulate countries and large corporations and the effect they are having on the global environment? (by Alex Pistolesi)

[ By on May 15, 2017 ]

It is no question that, overall, humans have a negative impact on the environment and that climate change is real. A large reason for this is that the economy and process of making money is often prioritized over protecting the environment and the planet that we live in. This process goes both ways as global warming also has a negative effect on the economy. The emission of greenhouse gases has been increasing for decade and the reliance on fossil fuels is doing nothing to ameliorate the situation. Oil and gas drilling has become another process that humans have started to depend on that is destroying our planet at a worrisome rate. Saudi Arabia alone is producing ten and a half million barrels of oil per day. Hydraulic fracturing, oil spills, and air pollution are all results of oil extraction on such an immense scale. Furthermore, it has been projected that the depleting world oil supply could run out just beyond 2050. I would like to consider the ethics behind basically forcing countries and large corporations to (from now on) only invest in sources of renewable energy and not take part in harmful processes such as oil drilling or emitting certain substances into the atmosphere. As noted by Donald Brown in an essay titled The Ethical Dimensions of Global Environmental Issues, “Most ethical systems and our intuitive ethical sensitivity are focused on our responsibilities to people who are close by and can be directly affected by our actions. The technical power that humans now have to affect adversely people they will never meet is a challenge for such ethical systems.” This statement is very well put and I believe it will become necessary for the major powers of the world to agree to work towards a solution. It would be interesting to dig deeper into whether or not it would be ethical to intervene on a country’s actions and decide how they are to act in order to preserve the well-being of the environment.
Masoud Movahed: Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?

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2 Comments on “How much can we regulate countries and large corporations and the effect they are having on the global environment? (by Alex Pistolesi)”

  1. KNF

    I think this is a really interesting point and question that you have raised: To what extent can government get involved in economics to protect the environment. On the constructing America trip to DC, I visited the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that actually researched how involved the government could be and encouraged them to place regulations on companies.

    The only case I can recall is that the EDF was trying to regulate the amount of carbon emissions by airlines. They set a regulation for how low the carbon emissions would have to be by 2020 or the government would be able to tax these airlines on their subsequent carbon emission. I am not sure exactly how they managed to get this law passed, but I think it is really interesting!

  2. KNF

    Kelley Nicholson-Flynn

    [ May 16, 2017 at 4:26 pm ]

    This is a critical – and complex – issue to explore. A few questions: 1) who is the moral agent?; 2) which ethical framework seems most apt at getting at the issue you raise about us paying attention to those who are closest to us?; and 3) which aspects of the issue require evaluation for scientific uncertainty?

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