Al Gore’s ethical reasoning stems from his worldview of stewardship, he believes that humans are both a part of nature and separate from it at the same time. This worldview leads to his ethical principles that we have a moral duty to manage the earth and we should encourage environmentally sustainable practices. Next, Gore’s Ethical Values include the right to life, equality, and empowerment of the people. From this comes his general ethical law that plants, animals and the environment should not be treated as a means to an end; it’s not sustainable. This general rule leads to Gore’s judgment that the extension of democracy and market economics will be a necessary prerequisite for the healing and saving of the environment. It’s important when mapping the ethical reasoning of a stakeholder that we identify who the stakeholders actually are. In this case Al Gore is himself a stakeholder because he is first and foremost a politician who ran for the Presidency on an environmental platform, his reputation is at stake if global warming and environmental degradation aren’t as serious as he portrays them to be. The general human population is a stakeholder as well because their wellbeing relies on the outcome of policy decisions in regards to the environment and its sustainability. The context to which the values and rules can be applied is global warming, environmental sustainability and duty to protect the environment for future generations.
Al Gore put a lot a weight/ hope on the evidence that school children have environmental sustainability as a top priority. Education is a theme that has been present throughout many of our previous readings and I think it’s because the idea that we have an ethical responsibility to create (or sustain) and provide a better world for our children and grandchildren is an ethical ideal held by those who believe in Stewardship. Gore also states that the public polls show the American people are concerned about the issue of environmental sustainability, but this interview was published in 1992 and since that time public opinion has changed from believing the government is doing too little about environmental protection to the government is doing too much. Why the change? The science has only gotten in that time, further supporting the data that shows how bad of a shape our planet is in and that it will only get worse if we don’t do something to turn it all around. I think the public’s opinion has changed because ever since the Golden Age of environmental policy interest groups and private entities have been gearing up to protect their best interest, which to them means their protecting their bottom line, not clean air, water and sustainable organic food. Gore thinks that the American public is “prepared to understand that the issues are not as simple as the timber industry…puts it.” But I think that when it comes to environmental policy and ethics, people hear what they want to hear. Therefore, if the argument is framed as environmentalist are advocating policies that would take away jobs or are attacking the free-market economic system that we hold so near and dear, there are bound to be plenty of citizens who are susceptible to this argument who will bas all following opinions on the issue on these preconceived and skewed notions. Moving on, I think Gore’s idea of the duality in the way in which humans exist in nature is similar to the point I made about the differentiation between positive and negative “right to life” that separates humans from animals in nature. Regardless of opening up our community to include other species there is still and probably always be something inherently different about humans. Gore also talks about the role that grief and despair play in environmental policy and ethics. From the way he explained it, I took despair to be the framing of the problem as being too big to fix. However, I found it interesting because he says despair stops individuals from understanding how bad things really are. In either case the reality of the situation is skewed. Also, Gore is firm in his position of Stewardship but I found it interesting how much of his religion enters the conversation and beliefs but that he doesn’t appear to rely on the Divine Command Theory to back up any of his claims. I wonder what role his religion plays in his stewardship worldview. In keeping with this idea of stewardship and planetary management the case study on the aerial killing of wolves in Alaska shows just how risky these theories and views are in action. People are ignorant to the facts. Killing of wolf (and bear) populations will increase game population. But we’re dancing a very fine ethical line of trying to manage an ecological system that we don’t fully understand. Defenders of Wildlife, the ones who posted the video to youtube, try to show how wolves are sentient creatures very similar to humans, trying to reason that we wouldn’t treat humans this way an we ought not treat the wolves and bears this way either. I think this argument just plays to the fact that most people hold worldviews that are human- centered so trying to compare another species to humans is trying to create a bond so that the same ethical rules and rights applied to humans are carried over to these other speices. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this idea and that maybe it’s the only way to open peoples minds to the idea that we can open our earth community to other sentient species and save not only ourselves but all the species that we had a hand in harming.
Question: Is Al Gore’s rejection of the need for a new Earth religion also a rejection to the need for a new unique environmental ethic?