Responsibilities to Future Generations

1 02 2011

Many environmentalists point to issues such as rapid population growth, excessive consumption, climate change, ozone depletion, and loss of biodiversity as evidence that humans are destroying Earth’s biosphere and placing both current human life and the lives of future generations at risk.  In your response to your “Discussion Question,” identify the central issue of the question and then present your response based on your understanding of the ethical considerations presented in Chapter 4.




5 responses

1 02 2011
Heidi Edwards

Question #1
It is interesting that overconsumption and overpopulation are considered such major roles in the destruction of the environment since these issues are addressed at the beginning of our history in Genesis. After God created man he told him two things. First, he told him to, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.” God commanded Adam and Eve to populate the earth. Second, he told them that “every herb bearing seed, which is upon the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed” was for Adam and Eve and all the beast of the earth to eat. Later he said that, “of every tree of the garden they could freely eat.” God planned for humans and animals to be able to freely eat of the vegetation that he had created. Interestingly enough these two issues then became part of the curse after the Fall. God cursed the ground so that it would not yield as much as it had. He also cursed Eve in having pain in “child-bearing.” I believe that it is because of these curses that we have the problems we have today with overpopulation and overconsumption. I have a tendency to think that overconsumption plays more of a role in the destruction of the environment than overpopulation, but that could just be because of my love for children and my belief in God’s love for children. It is easy to see overconsumption as a lack of self-control and an unhealthy yielding to our desires and wants, but overpopulation could be seen in a similar light as an unchecked seeking for satisfaction. In conclusion, I would put more emphasis on trying to slow destruction of the environment through checking overconsumption than in overpopulation. With overconsumption it is something you can personally fit into your life and change your actions. You can change your actions with overpopulation as well, but at that point you are taking into account the life of another human and I have a problem with me personally deciding whether or not they should be born or not.

1 02 2011

In the West and perhaps more specifically in the church we resist the very idea of population policy. This is probably due to the fact that freedom is so important to us and because of the creation mandate. I would challenge our natural predisposition and say that it might not be responsible for all people to have any number of children. For example, as a society, we have decided that it is not responsible for children to drive cars and therefore, there are restrictions on driver’s licenses that range from age limit to speed limits. This same principle can be applied to procreation. I would preface that by stating there is an easy pothole to fall into, and that is devaluing human life. This should not happen! I would say that we have a responsibility to our future progeny. I would say that the idea of “sustainable development” is a mediating principle that takes into account not only the needs and interests of the present generation, but also that of posterity. There are no goods attained by producing a child of one’s own as opposed to adoption. I think this idea inherently devalues certain lives. To an evolutionist there would be value in passing on your genes to the next generation.

1 02 2011
Jon Becker

Response to Question #4:

In every field of science, it is necessary to make long-term predictions and extrapolations of observed data in order to decide on a course of action for the future. However, since science is based on observation, these predictions seem to move beyond the realm of science. Decisions on issues such as climate change and ozone depletion are largely based on extrapolated data. I believe that there are several main principles that must be followed when using this type of information. First, the long-term predictions must be grounded in factual, observed information that was collected and handled with careful consideration to the guidelines of the scientific method. The extrapolated data must have a sound basis in order for it to be accurate. Secondly, the model must be constructed by considering and including all known influencing factors. Any inconsistencies in the model when compared to the environment could cause major discrepancies in the extrapolated data. It is important to note that this step is not static, but must dynamically incorporate new factors as they are discovered. Obviously, there is an inherent value judgment that must be made at this phase in order to decide which factors have an appreciable influence, but the ultimate goal should be the inclusion of all influencing factors. The third and final principle is that scientists and policy-makers must remember that this is extrapolated data, and therefore is more subjective than raw observed data. However, given this subjectivity issue, it is still necessary to use extrapolations and predictions for issues such as climate change, as regulations have to be implemented now to produce future benefits. Scientists must realize the responsibility they have been entrusted with when creating the models, and strive to produce the most accurate results possible, results that are free of personal and political bias. When these results are put in the hands of policy-makers, they can then implement legislation that is well-informed and directly targeted towards solving the environmental problem.

1 02 2011
Lindsay Jones

For starters, yes Americans consume too much, evidenced by the fact that “the 12 percent of the world’s population who live in North American and Western Europe account for 60 percent of worldwide consumer expenditures.” (DesJardins) American culture is largely shaped by consumerism, whether throwing away a plastic coffee cup or getting updated cell phones before the “old” ones wear out.
Consumerism is a problem in regards to putting future generations in danger and impoverishment, but this isn’t the root problem. The root problem is the cause for consumerism – why people feel the need to consume so much – which transitions into questioning whether or not material wealth always leads to greater happiness. Simply, the more “stuff” people have, the more they want, because they’re never truly satisfied. God has created us to be satisfied only by Him, and the moneymakers today are taking advantage of the fact that people try to make themselves happy by consuming. DesJardins summed it up best; “consumerism is a lifestyle in which material possessions are taken as a substitute for such goods as self-esteem, beauty, compassion, humility, and worth.”
Sagoff suggests a decrease in emphasizing against arguments about economics and self-interest (in other words, overconsumption and scarcity), and instead spiritual, aesthetic, and ethical values. Christians and Christ can meet the need of self-esteem, beauty, compassion, humility, and worth. The more Christians value people and treat them as Jesus would, the more they will in turn value other people and the natural world around them.

3 06 2013

, keen attention on related experiences and best practices are required to be shared to further develop an effective management initiative around the world.

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