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Environmental ethics takes into consideration the moral relations that exist between humanity and their respective natural environment. Environmental ethics hold the assumption that human beings have specific responsibilities to the natural world; as a result, people should act with responsibility when they are involved in things that have an effect on the natural world (Endress, 2005). Environmental ethics attempts to explore the issue of morality associated with human actions that have an effect on the natural world that sustains humanity. In light of this view, this essay argues that human beings have a responsibility to all biological life in the environment. Therefore, the environment should not be managed exclusively in the interests of humanity; rather, humans should alter their practices in order to protect other species from extinction.
Rationalization of human responsibility towards all biological life lays emphasis on the fact that the worth of all biological life to human beings is anthropocentric. This implies biological life have instrumental values including their ecosystem and intrinsic values. Intrinsic values refer to the values that other biological life may have in them, whereas ecosystemic refers to their respective functions in their ecosystems. Under the utilitarian account, preservation of biological life by humans is highly praised only when humans have interests at stake, which entails the duty that human beings have to future generations, duties arising from the stewardship role of humans as keepers of the planet for coming generations (Endress, 2005). The fundamental argument is that biological life is of objective value, implying that if human beings encounter and jeopardize the objective value of biological life, it is apparent that humanity has a responsibility not to destroy the objective values of all forms of biological life. Stewardship by human beings is used in defending ecological health, implying that human beings are the guardians of biodiversity. Therefore, human beings have a moral responsibility of protecting all forms of biological life from harm, especially harm inflicted by human actions. Environmentalists concede that there is an intrinsic value in biodiversity; as a result, human beings must preserve all forms of biological life from harm inflicted by human activities, and ensure that no further species are subjected to the danger of extinction (Endress, 2005).
Rights-based stewardship focuses mainly on intergenerational justice, which is the human responsibility of one generation to take into consideration the wellbeing of coming generations. This is similar to the concept of sustainability in the sense that older generations have a moral responsibility of sustaining biodiversity for the wellbeing of coming generations. Biodiversity imposes numerous benefits to humankind including environmental sustainability; therefore, human beings have a moral responsibility of preserving biodiversity for the common good of both the natural environment that sustains the present and future generations. For instance, the extinction of one species is likely to impose significant effects on the food chain and the larger ecosystem. A disruption of the food chain endangers other species, which in turn affects environmental sustainability. An inference from the above observation is that the moral responsibility of preserving biological life traces back to the benefits that biodiversity has for humankind and the coming generations. The fundamental argument is that biodiversity has instrumental value to humanity since they are used for medical, industrial, recreational and agricultural purposes. If human beings are to ensure sustainability of instrumental value of biodiversity, then they have a duty to preserve all forms of biological life in the natural environment (Endress, 2005).
Environmental sustainability can be used as a theoretical framework to argue that human beings should change their practices to protect other species from extinction. This implies that the environment should not be managed exclusively in accordance to the interests of human beings. The earth is considered as the home for humanity; therefore, human beings must show concern for other sentient beings found on the planet through environmental responsibility with the main objective of protecting other biological species from extinction. The future of human kind significantly depends on the planet, and the future of earth depends on actions undertaken by humanity. As a result, environmental sustainability can be guaranteed through ensuring preservation of biodiversity from extinction of biological life. In order to achieve this, human beings must change their practices and the impacts that they impose on the environment. The significance of this approach is evident in the concept of environmental sustainably, which plays an essential role in making sure that the existing processes of human interaction with the natural environment are undertaken with the key objective of preserving the natural environment and aims at ensuring that the environment as perfect as it can be. Environmental sustainability is threatened when human activities consume natural resources at a rate that impedes natural replenishment of resources. These results in environmental and biodiversity degradation, which affects the capacity of the natural environment to sustain human life (Arrow K & Dasgupta, 2004). An inference from the above observation is that the non-humanistic reason for protecting the environment traces back to result in significant benefits for humanity. Just like other species, the human race is faces a potential threat of extinction if the environment is preserved. Using the naturalistic account, species and speciation are valued intrinsically, implying that biodiversity should not be used as a means to attain human excellence (Arrow K & Dasgupta, 2004). Human beings have the moral responsibility of protecting the various biological life forms that have been protected since historical times. The argument is that human beings should not assume the role of murderers; rather, they should refrain from all activities that are likely to result in human-based extinction. Human-based extinction of species does not only result in a loss of human resources but also a loss in the biological sources (Kearns & Keller, 2007).
In conclusion, it is apparent that human beings have a moral responsibility of preserving the natural environment in order to ensure that biological life forms do not become extinct. Human beings have a duty to future generations including the duties arising from the stewardship role of humans as keepers of the planet for coming generations. In addition, the earth is considered as the home for humanity; therefore, human beings must show concern for other sentient beings found on the planet through environmental responsibility with the main objective of protecting other biological species from extinction. This implies that human beings must alter their practices to preserve biological species.