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Environmental Studies 5

Updated on September 22, 2013

Another reading response for my Environmental Studies class.

The scientific evidence presented in Environment an Interdisciplinary Anthology and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2007 synthesis report was certainly impressive and difficult to challenge. However, physical science does not direct government policy; that is philosophy’s purpose.

The science presented in these readings is most admirable, even to those who do not understand all the specifics, such as how CO2’s interaction with the atmosphere causes global warming. Science in general is admirable because it illustrates man’s desire and passion to understand physical reality, and that his mind has an almost infinite potential to comprehend and solve problems. One example of science’s admirability is displayed in the readings’ description of using an ice column to analyze and compare past CO2 levels to the present.

However, a problem arises when scientific discoveries are used to justify governmental policies. Governance is not science’s responsibility, for no amount of digging, exploring, drilling, or chemical testing will reveal virtues. Virtues are uncovered via morality not physical facts. Therefore, proper governance is solely philosophy’s responsibility, for it unearths morality.

Unfortunately, environmentalism appears to only be focusing on science when it is actually a two-step process also requiring philosophy. First, scientific evidence must be accumulated and confirmed; the environmental issue and its potential harm to man are solely answerable by science. Second, philosophy must determine the virtuous resolution. For example, philosophy determines if violating individuals’ property rights for the sake of lowering CO2 emissions to resolve the environmental issue is virtuous or vicious. Obviously, vice is to always be avoid, while virtue is to always be pursued. However, simply following the first-step and jumping to moral conclusions undoubtedly results in an unacceptable and avoidable mix of virtue and vice.


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