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3 Tutorials that teach Ethics and Stewardship
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Ethics and Stewardship

Ethics and Stewardship

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Author: Jensen Morgan
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This lesson discusses societal relationships with the environment.

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Tutorial

Source: Earth PD http://bit.ly/1ESoBKp Deforestation, PD http://bit.ly/1Ci1x9N Living Machine CC http://bit.ly/1BzE80I

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is ethics and stewardship. So let's get started.

We're going to talk about the three main environmental ethical philosophies and what stewardship means. The three philosophies are, anthropocentrism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism, all of which are our key terms for today. Ethics are basically moral principles, and so environmental ethics are the moral principles about the relationship between humans and the environment.

First is anthropocentrism, which means to be concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the wellbeing of humans. Next is biocentrism, which means to be concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the wellbeing of all living things. Our third and last environmental perspective is ecocentrism, which means to be concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the environment itself, which includes humans. Ecocentrism is concerned with the Earth as a whole system, not just individual parts. Both biocentrism and ecocentrism believe in intrinsic value, or the belief that everything-- whether it be human or non-human-- has intrinsic value regardless of whether or not humans acknowledge it.

Let's look at a single environmental issue from each of the three angles-- deforestation. Anthropocentrists would view deforestation as valuable if done at a rate that enables future humans use of tree resources. Biocentrists would view deforestation as harmful, because it is damaging living beings. Ecocentrists would view deforestation depending on its global ecosystem impacts, which would most likely be in a negative light.

Environmental stewardship is when humans take action to protect the environment based on their ethical beliefs. Anthropocentrists, centrists, biocentrists, and ecocentrists can all be environmental stewards, though the actions they might choose to take could look very different. For example, conservation of resources, recycling, and land restoration are all stewardship actions. Environmental stewardship is essentially environmentalism in action. Again, environmentalism is not determined by scientific objectivity, like environmental science, but is subjective interpretation of good or bad actions that humans should make in relation to the environment.

Let's look at a more specific example of environmental stewardship-- wastewater management. This photo here is of what is called a living machine. Living machines were invented to clean human waste water by moving the dirty water through various tanks to mimic how a natural wetland cleans water.

The goal is to clean water without harmful chemicals. Living machines use microbial life, plants, and fish to clean and test water before it is returned to the surrounding natural ecosystem. This is a form of environmental stewardship.

Now let's have a recap. We talked about three major environmental ethical philosophies and what environmental stewardship means. Don't forget, each of those philosophies is also a key term-- anthropocentrism, to be concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the wellbeing of humans, biocentrism, to be concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the wellbeing of all living things, and ecocentrism, to be concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the environment itself, which includes humans.

Well, that's all for this tutorial. I hope these concepts of and helpful, and I look forward to next time. Bye.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Anthropocentrism

    concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the well being of humans.

  • Biocentrism

    concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the well being of all living beings.

  • Ecocentrism

    concerned with actions to improve the state of the environment for the environment itself, which includes humans.