The Earth Charter and the Environment


03 Oct 2016 20 Sep 2017

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According to (Vilela, Soskolne and McDermott,1997), Buddhist influence the creation of the Earth Charter as an enshrined in what is a brief document that embodies the values and ethical principles necessary for the sustainability of life on earth. Move on, Virtue Ethics is a trait deemed to be morally excellent and thus is treasured as a foundation of value and good decent beings. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting individual and collection of wellbeing. This essay will highlight and relate the principles in the Earth Charter to the theory of virtue ethics. Moreover, it will also elaborate on how understanding of principles could help us to address and possibly alleviate an environmental issue in the Pacific.

To begin with, the Earth charter starts with a preamble, provides context and articulates its four major principles: Respect and Care for the community of life, Ecological Integrity, Social and Economic justice and Democracy, non-violence and Peace (Earth Charter, 2013). Therefore, the principles assert the basic value of the ethical system of the Charter, is that all livingbeings have intrinsic value and that human beings possess an equal inherent dignity. Each being is understood to be a “teleological center of life” The moral attitudes that logically follow from these values are enumerated in Principles 1 and 2. Principle 1 asserts respectfor life and the inherent dignity of persons, and Principle 2 asserts care “Care for the community of life with accepting, consideration, and sweetheart.” Respect and Care for life and human dignity are the two fundamental moral attitudes required by the Charter. A moral attitude is an understanding and outlook toward other beings that structure specific moral response sand relationships. The values of intrinsic value and dignity require the moral attitudes ofhumans (Taylor, 1986).

Respect and Care for life in general and for specific manifestations of life on different levels of relationship for instance on the human level, respect and care for persons. What follows from virtue ethics are duties to respond to others in particularways? Principles pertain to rights and duties that follow from, are necessary to actualize, one’s values. These duties are codified in terms of Moral Principles. The moralprinciples are abstract expressions of forms of conduct, of moral responses to the call ofthe other, which one commits to with the adoption of a moral attitude. The moral attitudes of respect and care commit one to certain modes of conduct embodied inprinciples on each level of relationship. A central part of the articulation of the cosmopolitan (Weed and McKeown, 1998) ethics of the Earth Charter is the explication of principles on each level ofrelationship. The four categories of principles in the Charter speak to these different levels of relationship. Standards of character, in turn, pertain to dispositions or character traits thatpre-dispose one toward particular choices and actions. They constitute moral resources that comprise one’s moral sensibility, which enables one to act in accordance with what one understands in principle to be right. One can understand what the right thing to do isbut not have the will to do it. Dispositions pertain to the will, the character, to do what is right. A disposition is a character trait that enables one to fulfill one’s responsibility, as defined in principle. In addition, standards of character also entail capacities to respond. As Jonathon Glover posits there are two broad categories of moral capacities: restraint from doing harm and sympathy. These moral resources

Are capacities and characters of consciousness and of natural human inclination that enhance our capacity to morally respond to others?

Mahatma Gandhi once said that, “Mother Earth has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” The Earth Charter: “Once basic needs have been met, human development is about 'being more' not having more.” To understand the principles mentioned in the Earth Charter can only be successful if people are truly concerned about the nature. Therefore, the second half of the essay wills eexplain how an understanding of specific principles in The Earth Charter could help us to address and possibly alleviate one pressing environmental issue in the Pacific.

“At the Planning and Policy for Ecosystem-Based Management Forum held in January 2010, senior natural resource managers from eight Pacific Island countries recognized the following serious environmental issues: sea-level rise and coastal engineering, availability of resources and data, population and socioeconomic change, greenhouse gases and climate change, land-based pollution, livelihood of people – food and land security, invasive species, sustaining fish stocks, outdated and conflicting policies and regulations and enforcement” (SPREP, 2010). However, as the Pacific mostly relies on sea therefore the populace advance is liable for further burden on the biomes almost universally; commercial mining is worsening these effects in various cases. Overexploitation for both subsistence and commercial use has caused severe reduction of numerous important food and profitable species. Species such as trochus, crayfish and turtles though are under some form of security and regulations are also endangered.

In addition, the second principle in the Earth Charter which states Ecological Integrity has to be completely and properly understood by every begin in order to alleviate the issue of Fish Stock Depletion and Coral Reef Degradation(SPREP, 2010). As the principle suggests to Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological structures, with concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life. According to it, we need to adopt to all levels sustainable development plans and regulations to make environmental conservation and restoration essential to all development advantages, establish and safeguard the Mother Nature and planet reserves, including wild lands and marine areas, to protect Earth's life support systems, maintain biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage. Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems. Control and eliminate non-native or genetically modified entities are dangerous to intrinsic species and the environs, and prevent primer of such harmful organisms. Accomplish the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not outstrip rates of redevelopment and that protect the wellbeing of ecosystems. Manage the removal and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways that minimalize depletion and cause no severe environmental destruction. Therefore, if we adhere to the laws of the nature we will be able to care and respect our nature. For example, there is certain law that has been implanted to protect the marine ecosystem. The first one is the ecosystem approach — comprehensive, scientifically substantiated and integrated approach to management of human activity to identify adverse impacts on the marine ecosystem and perform efficient measures for reduction of such impacts preserving integrity and sustainability of the ecosystem (Saeima, 2010). Secondly, the Convention on Protection of Nature in the South Pacific the aim of the Convention is to preserve, exploit and develop the natural resources of the South Pacific region through careful planning and management for the benefit of present and future generations (UNCLOS, 1982).

To conclude, we need to realize these goals, we must agree to live with a sense of universal responsibility, recognizing ourselves with the entire Earth community as well as our native communities. We are at once the citizens of different nations and of one biosphere in which the local and global are interconnected. Everyone bonds responsibility for the present and future wellbeing of the human family and the larger living biosphere. The soul of human harmony and relationship with all life is wired when we live with respect for the secret of being, thankfulness for the gift of life, and modesty regarding the human place in nature. Once said “For human societies to achieve a productive, healthful, and sustainable relationship with the natural world, the public and private sectors must make environmental considerations an integral part of decision making” unquoted.


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