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Today, the notion of environmental ethics is applied widely because the technologies that transform ecology intrude into natural processes and modify them by the needs of the human. Natural elements of ecosystems are replaced by artificial ones, which explains the necessity to search for those approaches that regulate technogenic activities to exclude harm to the environment. The participation of government boards in this work is mandatory since relevant provisions and policies are adopted at the state level. The purpose of this research is to explain the general environmental philosophy and ethics embodied by the US government. As a rationale, academic articles, printed editions, online literature, and media publications will be used.
The issues of environmental protection in the USA are an actual problem since a large number of industrial enterprises on the territory of the country inevitably hurt its ecology. The government’s work on this topic is largely determined by the provisions of environmental ethics, a special policy that provides for control over the preservation of the balance of nature and human activity. Assessing the status of available resources, managing the activities of relevant environmental organizations, and passing laws and regulations are the tasks of officials. To receive a comprehensive picture of the essence of such a phenomenon as environmental ethics, it is essential to consider not only its provisions but also specific measures for its maintenance. Statements by the country’s leaders and certain acts may be analyzed as the primary regulatory and legal grounds for evaluating this phenomenon and its perspectives. On the whole, environmental ethics is one of the mechanisms that allow choosing the best ways of moving about ecology protection and determining the work of official agencies in this direction.
Environmental ethics is a special form of control over the state of ecology in a certain region. The corresponding legal acts regulated by state officials define this target area as a set of measures aimed at preventing and eliminating the dangerous consequences of contamination. The work of the government is the central activity that helps to adjust the development of the country concerning environmental ethics and to allow using the maximum of available resources. According to Percival, Schroeder, Miller, and Leape (2017), technological progress identifies possible options for work about ecology, and “environmental ethics seek to tell us which of these alternative futures we ought to select” (p. 52). Also, as the author’s remark, the government agencies are the main stakeholders that can influence the course of work and adjust activities about the state policy of environmental ethics (Percival et al., 2017).
This opinion is shared by Thompson (2017) who argues that the sustainability of the ecological situation in the country is the direct task of the government boards. The author also offers the list of potentially useful activities aimed at strengthening the agricultural sector with an emphasis on the environmental situation and maintaining the country’s positive status concerning its ecological cleanliness (Thompson, 2017). All these reasoning prove that the state officials control and allocate all the available resources.
The types of environmental ethics that are promoted in the US directly depend on the activities of the government since relevant acts and laws are the main documents regulating work in this direction. As Kuletz (2016) remarks, any ecological experiments concerning the environment are possible only with the permission of the state bodies, which have the right to choose available resources and determine the nature of specific interventions. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) gives financial reports containing information that is evidence of illiterate policies concerning environmental protection (Dennis, 2018). Also, the general management of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics claims that some ethical issues need to be raised, in particular, inadequate staff engagement to prevent the consequences of human activities (Dennis, 2018). The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendment mentioned by Dennis (2018) is one of those acts that deserve revision. Kuletz (2016) considers different stakeholders involved in the process of environmental ethics and calls them competing actors in the US region – “Native Americans, antinuclear activists, Euroamerican scientists” (p. 13). All these facts prove that relevant changes in the existing legislation can be made.
State authorities largely regulate environmental ethics’ degree of development through direct participation in the problems under consideration. According to Bergstrom and Randall (2016), this discipline is a set of ideas proposed by the governing boards, and it implies “beliefs and practices from different environmental ethics principles” due to the variety of methods involved (p. 434). The authors mention the influence of environmental ethics on different spheres and cite the examples of this concept’s relationship with science, economics, society, and other aspects of life in the country (Bergstrom & Randall, 2016). For instance, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) is responsible for maintaining the ecological sustainability of the US and supporting actions to preserve nature (Liu, Liu, Yang, Chen, & Ulgiati, 2016).
At the same time, specific practical methods to control the state of the environment are promoted. As Brown (2015) notes, the role of the government to regulate all the actions taken to support environmental ethics and to make the right decisions based on theoretical and empirical findings. According to Campbell (2018), legislative acts in support of the conservation of natural resources are often based on academic works where the merits and demerits of certain interventions are discussed. Moreover, like Morrison, Wilmshurst, and Shimeld (2018) argue, environmental reports are a prerequisite for the work of all government departments involved in the activities to protect the country’s ecology and valuable resources. Therefore, officials also control the scientific sphere to understand the potential scope of work better.
One of the current problems of environmental ethics is the inability of government bodies to agree on effective measures concerning ecological protection policies, which proves the lack of high-ranking officials’ competence (Whitesides, 2018). According to the author, “the US government accountability office concluded that the EPA violated two laws” by entrusting incompetent people with work (Whitesides, 2018, para. 22). The article by Whitesides (2018) also offers the representatives of different political movements to come to a common opinion on the conditions of environmental ethics for the sake of achieving balance and preserving those resources that are available at the moment to conduct active and useful work to address the consequences of the ecological crisis. Therefore, not all the activities of responsible boards and agencies are effective, and improvements are required regarding the efficiency and quality of the programs implemented.
Interaction among the government representatives is a prerequisite for successful work to maintain environmental ethics. According to Dennis (2018), the activities of the US President should take into account the work of other responsible boards to avoid disagreements. “Political science has a long history of thought and disagreement,” however, the points of contact should be found to achieve a balance in the matter under consideration (“Policy & politics and environmental ethics,” n.d., para. 3). Otherwise, the lack of consensus may lead to severe consequences. As Whitesides (2018) notes, environmental safety requires not only discussion but also comprehensive work to strengthen all the branches that can influence the ecological situation in the country. Otherwise, severe consequences may manifest themselves.
Alternative futures for the development of society determine what will be the basis of the work to preserve environmental ethics. Percival et al. (2017) argue that technological progress opens wide prospects for the preservation of natural resources and the maintenance of a sustainable environment. The EPA as one of the main stakeholders can benefit from the available means of helping the environment, and it is essential to achieve the professional implementation of the programs planned. Economic factors form the financial base that helps to develop the appropriate mechanism for the preservation of environmental ethics (Bergstrom & Randall, 2016). At the same time, it is significant not to allow competition among the authorities to gain credibility and recognition, otherwise, negative consequences will arise, for example, the lack of funding in certain areas.
Despite the activities of the state agencies, the influence of individual officials on the formation of sustainable environmental ethics is significant. The institutional government is hierarchical, which explains the single course on issues related to environmental ethics (“Policy & politics and environmental ethics,” n.d.). Whitesides (2018) mentions the US president, Mr. Trump, in the context of controversial decisions regarding environmental regulations. At the same time, some representatives of the state apparatus have enough authority to implement the programs developed by the EPA, but not all the orders of the US head allow them to be done. For example, Vogel (2017) emphasizes the importance of preventive measures about nature and argues that environmental issues cannot be neglected, and concentration on economic prospects exclusively is fraught with the ecological crisis. Accordingly, the promotion of the country’s interests in environmental ethics should be encouraged at the highest level, that is, by the President for all the measures taken to be carried out efficiently.
Environmental ethics is a set of measures aimed at maintaining a stable and positive ecological situation and promoted by government officials as the main stakeholders. The interaction among the authorities, the alternative ways of development, and the participation of high-ranking officials contribute to forming a sustainable base for maintaining environmental ethics and allow the state to overcome the complex tasks of preserving the environment through all available resources effectively. The role of the country’s leaders is significant since much depends on the decisions made at a high level. It is essential to achieve agreement among the direct participants in the process of maintaining environmental ethics so that no disagreements could arise, and only in this case, considerable positive changes may be observed.
Bergstrom, J. C., & Randall, A. (2016). Resource economics: An economic approach to natural resource and environmental policy (4th ed.). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Brown, M. (2015) The ethics of government intervention in environmental change. Govloop. Web.
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Campbell, I. J. (2018). Animal welfare and environmental ethics: It’s complicated. Ethics and the Environment, 23(1), 49-69. Web.
Dennis, B. (2018). Top government ethics official demands EPA probe Pruitt’s ethics controversies. The Washington Post. Web.
Kuletz, V. L. (2016). The tainted desert: Environmental and social ruin in the American West. New York, NY: Routledge.
Liu, X., Liu, G., Yang, Z., Chen, B., & Ulgiati, S. (2016). Comparing national environmental and economic performances through emergy sustainability indicators: Moving environmental ethics beyond anthropocentrism toward ecocentrism. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 58, 1532-1542. Web.
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Percival, R. V., Schroeder, C. H., Miller, A. S., & Leape, J. P. (2017). Environmental regulation: Law, science, and policy (8th ed.). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.
Thompson, P. B. (2017). The spirit of the soil: Agriculture and environmental ethics (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Vogel, S. (2017). Alienation and nature in environmental philosophy. Environmental Ethics, 39(2), 235-238. Web.
Whitesides, J. (2018) US: Environmental Protection Agency chief resigns amid ethics scandals. The Wire. Web.