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Ethical Issues and Ecological Integrity

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Ecological Integrity is based not only on scientific evidence, as shown in part 1 of this book, but also on ethical reasoning. In fact, scientific and ethical discourses are not disconnected, but related and complementary as will be shown in the following part 2 of this book. The integrative and interdisciplinary nature makes ecological integrity the powerful reference that it has become for the development of truly sustainable policies, laws and economics.

Each of this part's four chapters are reflections of the close nexus between science and ethics. As we explore the various manifestations of the global crisis, we become aware that they are all manifestations of a crisis in perception. Human beliefs and perceptions are fundamental to how we see the world and how we assess the potential for change. The dominant corporate and governmental view of the world is deeply distorted as it continues to ignore ecological realities. Understanding and acknowledging ecological interdependencies is, therefore, the essential first step in appreciating the connections between sustaining the human enterprise and sustaining all other forms of life.

Perhaps the most striking manifestation of humanity's crisis is the ongoing failure of achieving a global solution to climate change. In his analysis of the Copenhagen Accord, Donald Brown shows how nations, some more than others, have occupied themselves with narrow, short-term economic self-interest virtually devoid of recognizing global responsibilities. This preoccupation has presented itself over a period of nearly twenty years with Copenhagen – and recently Cancun – highlighting what fundamentally is a crisis of state-centered governance. The self-interest of powerful nations and corporations consistently prevents the international community from doing “the right thing”, both ecologically and socially. While Brown has his focus on climate change ethics, he also shows how ethical failure is coupled with ignorance of what is actually at stake. Both the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreement lack not only urgency and commitment, but also a very basic recognition of ethics and justice.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Globalisation and Ecological Integrity in Science and International Law
    This volume returns to one of the major themes of the Global Ecological Integrity Group: the interface between integrity as a scientific concept and a number of important issues in ethics, international law and public health. The main scholars who have worked on these topics over the years return to re-examine these dimensions from the viewpoint of global governance.
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