Monday 20th February 2017

Environment

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Oak Tree
© Contact Human Health and Animal Ethics

There is a difference between wanting to protect the environment and being an environmentalist.

On of the many problems with environmentalism is that, although there are environmental philosophies rooted in the idea that the environment and environmental objects have an ethical value in themselves, independently of their utility for human beings, often environmentalism is a selfish attitude, it stems from an egotistic concern for the human species: the environment needs to be protected not per se, not because of the inherent moral value of its (other than human) inhabitants, but only as a means to the ultimate ethical goal: the human species.

This is a Kantian attitude: the 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant thought that animals should be given some moral consideration not for themselves but only as a means to human ends, because mistreating them and being cruel to them leads to a greater likelihood of being cruel to other humans. So the end, in this view, always remains man and man only.

Environmentalism generally still commits the mortal sin of speciesism: it is still well inside speciesist limitations.

This is the way anyway that environmentalism has historically developed; it doesn’t necessarily mean that it could not be different.

An example of this conflict between environmentalism and anti-speciesism is when major, mainstream environmental organizations call for extensive animal-testing programs of pesticides or other chemicals, despite the fact that animal tests don't give any reliable information on the toxicity of these substances on human beings.

Famous environmental associations are responsible for REACH, the greatest animal testing programs ever. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use, and at least 9 million laboratory animals are estimated to be subject to the tests, although some estimates give as many as 54 million vertebrate animals. It entered into force on 1 June 2007, and is planned to be implemented over the next decade.

The Environment section of this site explores environmental issues but with a difference: we do not take for granted any claims, including those of the environmentalist movement. Everything must be backed up by sound scientific work for us to accept it.

Global warming, recycling, pesticides, every area is scrutinized and open to controversy.

The environment has a double connection to the theme of this site: it is connected to human health on one side and to animal ethics on the other.

We will examine the cases in which the environmentalists take an approach which is at odds with animal ethics.

 

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