Green Manolo » Question: Is Going Green Humanity’s Moral Duty?

Question: Is Going Green Humanity’s Moral Duty?

By Christa

Obligation. It’s a tough word to think about when the subject at hand is keeping the Earth healthy. How much responsibility does each of us have to protect our own environments and, with so much these days being interconnected, the environments of others? For example, a lot of people find it easy to compost their own food waste and use natural fertilizers in their own gardens, but difficult to take the health and welfare of workers and the soil halfway around the globe into consideration when buying something like coffee or bananas. And of course it’s easier – the results of composting are visible right in the trash bin, while the results of choosing responsibly grown and manufactured products isn’t. Not to mention the fact that sussing out the greenest options can be a lot of work!

So the question I want you to ponder today is whether we have a moral obligation to go green.

My view? It would be great if everyone everywhere lived super green lives, but I’m happy just to see people taking baby steps toward a more environmentally conscious existence. I have a difficult time saying outright that it’s our moral duty to save the Earth, if only because my moral code isn’t your moral code isn’t his or her moral code. That said, our world does have a fixed amount of natural resources that we all have to share, and I don’t like the notion of my choices and actions making other people’s lives worse. My guess is that you don’t like it much, either. But does that mean we’re morally obligated to go green? It’s pretty hard to say…

5 Responses to “Question: Is Going Green Humanity’s Moral Duty?”

  1. KESW Says:

    I believe that each of us has a personal responsibility to live as green as we see our way clear to — but that it shouldn’t be dictated. I think that the demands of those who desire to live more green can change the “normal” in the lives of those around them… for example, enough citizens demanding recycling bins and they come standard with the municipal garbage cans. Or enough drivers demand fuel-efficient cars that we see a gradual shift that as people buy new cars, they opt for more fuel efficient ones.

    What I am leery of is top-down green. As an example of that, my dad’s company is instituting a policy of parking privilege based on fuel efficiency. My dad in his ten year old minivan will be forced to park much further out, which is going to be hard on him due to a few health/mobility issues. The company punishes him for driving an old car, but do they pay him, as a loyal, almost workaholic employee with over 30 years of experience in his field, enough to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle? They are even going so far as to ban vehicles past a certain point of “inefficiency”… large pick-ups, etc, with (it appears) no regard as to whether the employees driving such vehicles have legitimate reasons to do so.

    Sorry for the book but this is something that has gotten me riled recently…

  2. MarinaS Says:

    I don’t think that you can sub-divide environmental responsibility into segregated sections and say, well we all have a responsibility to do this bit, or that bit. It’s an overarching responsibility and everyone has a moral duty to enact it in every way they can.

    Take a less controversial example: murder. Nobody would say that the way to prevent murder is to not murder anyone yourself *or* make sure the government enacts laws against it *or* guard against other people murdering. We have loads of different social structures to prevent murder, and they all interact to minimise it in practice.

    I’m not drawing an analogy between murder and environmental destruction (though you could), but just pointing out that this divide and rule between lifestyle changes, innovation, regulation and responsible consumerism is fictitious. It’s not an either/or question.

  3. Carla Says:

    I clicked not sure because I am not sure where the line of dictated green should be. We have some already, like emissions laws and zoning regulations limiting Riperian development but how much is enough? I know we are no where near enough but is enough a global equivalence thing? If the US became a fair share user of world goods would I be willing to sacrifice that much? I don’t really know. It would be a LOT and dramatic to be really fair. So I compost and grow an organic garden but really that mostly benefits me. Angsty thoughts indeed.

  4. Lapadula Says:

    No. No no no. What makes something an obligation? Religion? God put resources on the earth for humankind to use as we see fit. Government? I don’t appreciate the goverment telling me how to live my life. Society? You probably already guessed, but me and society don’t always see eye to eye on how things ought to be. If someone wants to be green, fine, but don’t tell me and my family that we need to do everything the same way, since it’s not even clear how much of an impact humanity really has on the environment in the long term.

  5. deltasone Says:

    We should be painstaking and fussy in all we do, just because it’s the right thing to do!

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