Tag Archives: Environment

Beneficiaries of Unjust Harm Pay Because they Must, Because it is Fair, Because it is Just

If it is not the party that caused the harm or the creation of an unfair disadvantage, then there are but few alternatives to choose from. Either there will be an equal or unequal distribution of responsibility shared by all parties responsible or not. Parties who are not responsible, usually those who have been harmed or suffered an unfair disadvantage, will bear the burden of responsibility. The responsibility will be transferred to future generations. Or there will be nothing done to rectify the harms or the creation of the unfair disadvantage. When the harm and the unfair disadvantage in question is anthropogenic climate change and the impacts of it, the last option is merely rejected because it violates or is in direct contradiction of too many other, norms, values, principles, and rights. There is further reason to doubt that either the second option is not entirely justifiable unless it was selected through a fair negotiation procedure and complete consent was achieved. Given the current international political and economic situation these conditions seem entirely unachievable. The third option encounters the same complications with some further caveats, namely, that future generations are not responsible for the harm and cannot give consent thus, actively selecting to burden them is unjust. Which leaves the option that the party who caused the unjust situation to occur is responsible for rectifying that situation. However, anthropogenic climate change is an intergenerational problem with latent and cumulative impacts, so it seems that neither is it the case that there is one specific party who is responsible, nor is it the case that the current generation is entirely responsible. This presents a dilemma for assigning responsibilities and burdens for rectifying the harms and unfair disadvantages that have resulted from the activities that have caused anthropogenic climate change. Much of the burden actually rightfully belongs to past generations who cannot fulfil their obligations. Thus, it falls to those who are the beneficiaries of the advantages gained from the harms and unfair advantages that were caused by previous generations, given that those harms and benefits still persist, if they are to be rectified.

However, the Beneficiary Pays Principle (BPP) is not without complications or objections. Simon Caney in Cosmopolitan Justice, Responsibility, and Global Climate Change (2010), argued that the BPP is usually argued for and defended upon egalitarian principles and whether from a “collectivist perspective” or an “individualist perspective” it fails to provide the necessary justification for the application of the principle.[1] For these purposes a collective is understood to be a group or entity such as a nation or state that exists intergenerationally, and an individual is an entity—typically a person—that does not. Caney’s basic argument is that all things being equal in the present between two states save that one utilized industrialization to develop and the other did not, that it would fail egalitarian principles to place burdens on the one and not the other, even for the harms that resulted from past industrialization practices.[2] Conversely, two persons alive today whose ancestors had unequal opportunities would not justify the leveling down of the opportunities of the one individual and the leveling up of the other, if the choices of the ancestors were chosen freely.[3] The issue with the first scenario is that the ideal situation Caney describes in the example is nothing close to reality, since no state especially when ‘developed states’ are compared and contrasted to ‘less developed states.’ The issue with the second scenario is that it almost entirely ignores the very real social factors that compel choices or constrict opportunities. In short, the examples that Caney uses over-simplify the situation. Nonetheless, the concerns that Caney raises do have moral importance for the BPP and need to be considered when making decisions about who is responsible in the present for what happened in the past.

Edward Page the author of Give it Up for Climate Change: A Defense of the Beneficiary Pays Principle (2012) argues that not only is holding the current generation’s collectives responsible for the actions of past, but also presents a reasonable and practical redistribution program.[4] Ultimately Page argues in favor of a “Climate Beneficiary Dividend,” that would apply to the thirty-one wealthiest states, whose wealth was also earned from industrialization, but which would not be remotely close to what is actually owed to rectify the harms to the climate that are being felt by those who are impoverished.[5] Page proposes that the dividend be set at 1% of total wealth of each state for one century, and further suggests that if the list of those most responsible is restricted to the top ten, then the dividend will achieve a net yield of approximately “$5.5 trillion” annually.[6] Page believes that collectives have a duty to rectify harms that exceed this proposed dividend, but proposes what is argued to be a modest compromise because it is thought that it will be more agreeable than attempting to compel the full duty.

The “Climate Beneficiary Dividend” that Page proposes is grounded upon the justificatory grounds of a principle of wrongful enrichment (WE), which states that “those states wrongfully enriched by activities that cause climate change should pay” for climate change.[7] Page argues that WE principle is grounded upon duty asserted by Butt, of whom Page quotes and expands upon by saying; “every moral agent is bound by a ‘duty not to benefit from the suffering of others’ and where such benefits cannot be avoided a duty arises ‘to disgorge the benefits on gains as a result of injustice follows from one’s duty not so to benefit.”[8] This duty seems like a focused outgrowth of John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle, which states “That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”[9] To be certain, the Harm Principle was only meant to apply internally to one civil society and it does not specify what should be done should harm occur, but what it proposes is that undue harm is morally wrong, whether by an individual or a collective. The duty and the principle are also similar to principle proposed by Henry Shue:

“When a party has in the past taken an unfair advantage of others by imposing costs upon them without their consent, those who have been unilaterally put at a disadvantage are entitled to demand that in the future the offending party shoulder burdens that are unequal at least to the extent of the unfair advantage previously taken, in order to restore equality.”[10]

This reveals that Page’s proposal is neither, novel, nor without support. There is a certain intuitive and moral importance to the fact that past harms have translated into current suffering that these principles and others like them are contending with. Furthermore, one of the key elements of Page’s revision to the BPP is that the benefits and disadvantages must be “persisting effects of past or present wrongdoing.”[11] This supposes and rightly so, that the agents are collectives, i.e., they exist intergenerationally. The question that remains is whether these theories of harm, benefits, and persistence are enough to overcome the objections to the BPP, and whether in fact if they need to.

Caney bring up the point of “excusable ignorance” as a defense against the BPP, which has a certain moral appeal to it as it relates to conceptions of ex post facto determinations of blame and responsibility.[12] The concept of excusable ignorance suggests that an agent must have sufficient knowledge of the consequences of their actions and actually be able to elect to select an alternative. It further posits that if an agent could not reasonably be expected to have foreseen the harmful outcomes of their actions, that they cannot justifiably be held responsible and accountable for those actions. However, not even ex post facto determinations of blame and responsibility are without exception because there is a counter-balance that in some situations holds in all cases, that being the concept of strict liability. Strict liability holds that regardless of an agent’s knowledge or intent, that the agent is still responsible for the results of their actions. An example of this is ignorant trespassing, wherein a person is still responsible for the violation of another agent’s rights, but not that they are morally blameworthy for the trespass because they did not intend harm. However, they are still obliged to rectify the trespass by leaving the other agent’s domain and may be compelled to do such. This line of reasoning was in fact a major component of Page’s description of “unjust enrichment” which proposes that; “states should bear climate response burdens in line with climate change-linked benefits they have accumulated even if no wrongdoing can be identified in their production or intergenerational transfer.”[13] Thus, this principle, which Page argues is a revision of the BPP, is grounded upon the rationality of strict liability which links “automatic benefits” to specific unjust actions suggesting that merely by the fact of their existence that payments are due. Caney would argue that if it is not right to punish the beneficiaries, then it is not right to burden them with payments.

Neither Page nor Shue can merely overcome the objections and concerns raised by Caney by appealing to egalitarian principles or the principles they have proposed, but it is not clear that they need to. For one, there is no reasonable question that the planet has been impacted by anthropogenic climate change that has been one of the direct results of industrialization.[14] Secondly, there is also little debate about who in the past is responsible for the impacts that are resulting from the process of industrialization. Thirdly, there is also relatively little reasonable and rational debate about who today is being harmed by anthropogenic climate change or who will be harmed in the future. The debate is focused on who today is to be burdened with the responsibility and the cost for mitigating and adapting to harms that were caused or started in the past.

As stated above attempting to transfer these cost to future generations is unjust and furthermore does not address the urgency of the issues we as a civilization are now confronting. Stephen Gardiner, the author of The Perfect Moral Storm, argues that future generations are already being burdened with the effects of anthropogenic climate change due to the lagging and back loading effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.[15] Gardiner argues that there is motivation to want to distribute the burdens to future generations because the effects are not being experienced by all right now. However, the desire and, what is both fair and just is not commensurable. Doing nothing to mitigate or adapt to past harms is untenable and unacceptable. Burdening impoverished states, i.e., collectives, with the responsibility and the costs of things that they most certainly had no part in is both unfair and unjust. Shue would argue that imposing costs on the impoverished that would result in their being forced below a minimal threshold of being able to provide for their own survival is unfair, unjust and unacceptable.[16] Caney would agree with this.

This leaves one alternative that has two components, those who caused the harm are the ones who are responsible to rectify the harm. The two components are current polluters and past polluters. There is little to no debate that current polluters are morally obligated to pay for the harms they incur, this is the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP). However, as has been shown, there is much more debate about the past polluters and what should be done to rectify the harm that has resulted from it. One alternative as Caney argued for in the “Hybrid Account,” would be to draw a line, say “1990” beyond which there is no morally compelling justification to burden anyone with the responsibility for addressing the effects resulting from past emissions.[17] Page might however, be willing to negotiate on this point since, “half of all the CO2 hitherto released into the atmosphere (600 billion tonnes) was emitted between 1980 and 2008,” and it would go a long way toward mitigating the effects.[18] However, that is not what Page argues for, instead, Page argues for a “Climate Beneficiary Dividend,” that is but one percent of the total wealth of the states who are the collectives, i.e., the agents identified as being the progenitors of the harmful effects of anthropogenic climate change. Both the harms and benefits are still persisting, and Shue’s argument about fairness reveals that the entire institutional structural difference between ‘developed states’ and ‘less developed states’ dramatically impacts person’s entire quality of life.[19] To be fair, these unjust inequalities must be addressed and mitigated or rectified and this one percent would in part be used to achieve that end.

When confronted with the alternative of doing nothing to mitigate or adapt to the effects of anthropogenic climate change, which entails not burdening the current generation for past collectives’ emissions, neither Page, Shue, nor Caney think this is appropriate. Caney argued that the “most advantaged have a duty either to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions in proportion to the resulting from (i) [previous generations], (ii) [excusable ignorance], and (iii) [polluters who cannot be made to pay] (mitigation) or to address the ill effects of climate change resulting from (i), (ii), and (iii) (adaptation).”[20] The difference between both Shue and Page, is the reasoning behind burdening the most advantaged; Caney is heavily relying on the Ability to Pay Principle (APP), while Shue and Page are applying the APP, they are also acknowledging the historical accountability of collectives. By acknowledging the historical accountability of collectives they are attributing responsibility for how and why the most advantaged came to be in the privileged position they occupy, and since, as Page asserts, most of this wealth was gained through unjust enrichments that have “persisting effects of past or present wrongdoing,” it is morally relevant to do so.

Thus, since, all the other alternatives are either unfair or unjust, and since, doing nothing is not an option, all that is left is to burden those who benefit from “unjust enrichments” with the costs of rectifying the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Those who benefit from unjust harms pay because they must, because that is what is most fair to this generation and all future generations, and because it is what is most just given the historical accountability and responsibility of collectives. The objections raised by Caney need not be overcome entirely to come to this conclusion.

[1] Simon Caney, “Cosmopolitan Justice, Responsibility, and Global Climate Change,” in Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, ed. Stephen M. Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson, and Henry Shue (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 122-145.

[2] Caney, 133.

[3] Caney, 133.

[4] Edward Page Page, “Give it Up for Climate Change: A Defense of the Beneficiary Pays Principle,” International Theory, Vol. 4 No.2 (2012): pp. 300-330. ISSN 1752-9719 http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/50667

[5] Page, 16.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] Ibid, 7.

[9] John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty,” in The Philosophy of Human Rights (St. Paul: Paragon House, 2001) p. 144.

[10] Henry Shue, “Global Environment and International Inequality” in Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, ed. Stephen M. Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson, and Henry Shue (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 103.

[11] Page, 7.

[12] Caney, 130-131.

[13] Page, 9.

[14] Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Work Group II (2014) http://ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

[15] Stephen Gardiner, “The Perfect Moral Storm,” in Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, ed. Stephen M. Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson, and Henry Shue (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 90-91.

[16] Shue, 105-107.

[17] Caney, 136.

[18] Page, 13.

[19] Shue, 105.

[20] Caney, 136.

“Letter to the Men” by Renaissance the Poet: New HipHop Song & Explanatory Essay

How the hell is a man going to jump up and scream for Liberation and Justice, Equality and to be treated fairly, to have greater bargaining power, and to be treated like a human being; then turn around to promote Misogyny and Patriarchy which are mechanisms of Colonization and the Exploitation of the bodies and minds of women?

There is a manifest contradiction when these two opposite ends of the spectrum—justice vs. injustice—coalesce into one individual, wherein the latter completely disqualifies the former to the point that the man promotes a system of injustice instead of justice. Any ideology or societal organization principle that systematically relegates a particular group of people to a position of inferiority in a hierarchical structure, simply because of their affiliation or identity with the group is discriminatory, bigoted, and unjust to its core. Patriarchy is one of those unjust ideologies because it systematically seeks to relegate all women to positions of inferiority simply for being women. Ideologies that generalize and discriminate based on qualities beyond the will and volition of the individual is ignorant, short-sighted, and unjust.

Capability, merit, previous accomplishment, and potential future contributions are by far a more efficient and just means of distributing power and respect among and between people. Some men are promoted to positions of prestige and power, but lack the integrity, the intelligence, the character, and the communication skills necessary to perform the role they are selected for because they were selected solely on the basis of gender. This is a detrimental and foolhardy practice. Likewise, denying a position of prestige and power to a woman because the very same vital qualities that are necessary to fulfill the role are ignored for men and discounted in women, that is, they have not been considered in the cases of many women, qualities that they in fact possess. This is also a detrimental and foolhardy practice. If people were evaluated, both male and female, in terms of their capability; their merit, their previous accomplishments and their potential future contributions instead of their genders, sexes, ages, or ethnicity then the roles they are selected for would actually be fulfilled and the outcomes would be much more productive and achieved more efficiently.

A person should be judged by the contents of their character; not by their gender, sex, color, creed, or religion.

Adding Sexism to this discussion of the unjust hierarchical social structure of patriarchy, wherein the bodies of women are objectified and commodified, denying their humanity and instead attributing value to women only in sexual or monetary terms; the dehumanization of women is a glaring and unacceptable problem. It is also a dangerous and harmful combination.

Patriarchy is insidious because it has been the norm for thousands of years, and as a result the many ways it crops up could seem to many of the cisgendered men to be benign. For instance, the oldest reference to women as bitches I have found was in Homer’sThe Odyssey” from Ancient Greece. The term and the hatred of women, misogyny itself, is old, very old. Furthermore, contemporary women may be subjected to continuous unwanted sexual advances from men; men who feel entitled to do this because they are men and feel we must be macho and promiscuous to fulfill our roles as men. Patriarchy also denies women the same sexual freedoms granted to men and instead they are condemned and shamed by men and other women—who have been indoctrinated with patriarchy—for expressing themselves sexually, or dressing in a revealing manner. For thousands of years women have been thought of as being naturally ‘incompetent’ in some fields or activities, and their opinions in leadership roles have often been viewed as less credible. Women have rarely been given the same space to express their thoughts as men, regardless of how correct and astute they are and have been. Of course this denies the very real truth that women have been present and have been powerful decision makers in many of the biggest decisions that have shaped our world; the Julio-Claudian blood-line of the 12 Caesars of Rome in the era of Jesus was controlled by women; the shaping of the United States was heavily influenced by Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, one of the revolutionaries; Sojourner Truth the African American abolitionists; Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitionist and freedom fighter; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the suffragist; Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black Woman millionaire who created a line of black hair products; the list can go on. Patriarchy also shows up when a woman justly and intelligently asserts herself and her autonomy and she is referred to as a bitch, which is an attempt to discredit her and her assertions. Patriarchy is ugly and ubiquitous and the list can go on, but the point is that patriarchy seeks to deny women their humanity and relegate them to positions of inferiority wherein they are only perceived as minor partners, partial contributors, sexual objects, and needing a man’s guidance and protection (paternalism); none of which is true.

Here are three interrelated points:

1. In a sense, culture is a living entity. It does and must evolve. To claim that subordination of women must be “be natural and correct” because “that is how it has always been” is wrong. It is a cop-out, it is recklessly conservative, it is unjust, and it is childish.

2. That a man may feel ‘entitled’ to a woman’s body is a continuation of exploitation and slavery; slavery simply being the ownership of another’s body. It is the refusal to recognize the autonomy of another. Entitlement can only emerge when one ‘feels’ they have the right to ownership over something or someone.

3. For a man to clamor for his rights and equity, and deny women similar rights and equity is a manifest contradiction to the concept of justice, equality, and world free from oppression.

Furthermore, that men are afraid of women and their inherent potential to shape our world; much the same as racism is about managing the fear of Black people coming to social, political and economic power because white people fear that the same harms they have visited on Black People will be visited upon them. This fear is driven by greed, the most fundamental components of colonialism and exploitation. It is about power, which is expressed in terms of control of the external world and, most often control of resources or other people. This fear is a plague that has led men to attempt to silence women and to hold them in bondage because of a fear of a loss of control, but this behavior is stifling our ability to develop as a people into a more mature society and culture. Since all living things must grow, this pestilent nostalgia is actually choking our culture and killing us: Reverse Racism.

I am calling on the men to be more; to do less; and to acknowledge, accept and respect the leadership of women. I am calling on the men to end our subordination of women; to end our abuse of women; and to stand up to those who continue to hate and abuse women. I am calling on the men to see and acknowledge the true value inherent in each and every woman; to treasure that value; and to disregard the antiquated valuation of women that has been instilled in us by the oppressive and colonizing culture of conquest and sexual exploitation. I am calling on the men to recognize the harm we are doing to us all by holding half of our population hostage, in bondage, attempting to silence the best within us. I am calling on the men to be Men, and in particular Black Men, to do away with this ideology of dualism and competition so that we can move forward as a people and achieve the liberation we so desperately desire.

i.Written by Renaissance the Poet

ii. Edited by Sharon Welensky & Tim Sage

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Backing Track & Mix by Scott Paul Johnson

www.facebook.com/spjohnson

Written & Recorded by Renaissance the Poet

www.facebook.com/renaissancethepoet.official

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Lyrics:

Verse 1

There’s a very real problem that needs to be addressed

And I hope my words offend, cause you to question your intents

As a man, a male, privileged, to live without regrets

This letter is for you, from a man who finally gets

That Oppression of women is the sickest form there is

there is nothing that epitomizes hatred more than this

Weakness, feeling the need to express dominance

Prominently, by suppressing a woman’s right to live

& to live un-assailed by male hostility

In the streets, on the job and in our families

Sexual harassment an infectious demon,

Spreading because men feel entitled to bodies bein

Perceived as property, a fallacy Contradicting we

The liberty we scream for we constantly recede

Cuz our greed makes us think we can take all that we see

We’d never tolerate being another man’s property

Chorus

Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 2

Walking down the street women have to risk the cat calling

Being asked for numbers, getting groped, raped and can’t stop it

& when they Stand Their Ground, flipping around the situation

Denying a man has the Right to incur this inflammation

She is insulted, threatened and in the worst cases

Women have been killed for denying men to their faces

& if that is not entitlement then I don’t know what is

Because who has a claim to another’s life

Let alone to a smile or even her mind

If she graces you the privilege, it is a gift, not a right

And she has the Right, like us, to be left alone

On her way home, to school, work or talking on the phone

& She has the Right to associate with you or not

Without fear of reprisal or the way being blocked

It’s not for you to decide, this is her choice

Infringement is Wrong, man, so cease all the noise

Chorus

Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

Verse 3

Women should be valued and cherished not disrespected

They’re Amazing, Intelligent, Partners, and they’re Finished

They do not need anything added or taken from them

There is nothing a man has that a woman needs from him

Not even semen, if that’s what you’re thinking

You can Check a sperm bank if you think that I am beefin

Paternalism a joke, they’re as capable as men

Neither need concealing nor protection, because they’re Women

They’re Human and were born with all they will ever need

Save respect and to be loved, just like you and me

And humans deserve to be treated with dignity

That means treated with equity, honor and esteem

Fail in any of these and you’ll see that she up and leaves

And finds one who can provide all the things that she needs

But I see that so many out get this wrong

& that’s why I wrote you a letter in the form of a song

Chorus

Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives, Friends

The Women of the World combine to be the best there is

I just can’t take the hate no more, I’m calling out the men

You have a duty to us all to be the best you can

“The World We Want” by Sarra Tekola & Renaissance (((Music Video)))

And this is the video that we put together. Initially, it began as a project for a competition at the University of Washington, and although, it will still be submitted, as we began constructing the project we realized the potential for helping to make a real difference. We are both seniors at the UW, both musically inclined, both activists with a heart fro justice and a sustainable planet. Everything just fit together. I am also a photographer, videographer, producer, studio technician, poet, spoken word artist, and so much more. So, in the short time period we had to get this accomplished, I threw everything I had into this with Sarra, including the kitchen sink. It was simultaneously, both the hardest and most rewarding project that I have ever been part of.

Climate Change is all the more pressing at this particular junction in time, in Seattle specifically because Shell Oil is planning to bring a seafaring oil rig through Seattle’s harbor, which will serve as a lay-station as it forges its way to the arctic to drill for oil. If this occurs, then the dreaded two degrees of change the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 360, Rising Tide, and a host of others have been warning about will be crossed. This will doom the planet to catastrophic failure. Hence, the “Draw The Line” logo. We are standing up and yelling NO!!!

We hope that this song and video will cause you to consider what is happening and to foster some creativity on your part to learn more if you are not already hip to the situation.

Peace & Love

~Renaissance

Further Readings:

We Have A World to Win written by Jess Spear

Rude Awakening written by Renaissance

The Capitalist Dilemma written by Renaissance

Rude Awakening

I had a rude awakening a few weeks ago. It probably started some time during the last school year, but it came to a head a few weeks ago. The reality of, what I considered at the time, to be a bleak future sunk in and it was like a huge Linus cloud decided to rain all over my parade. I decided to go to school to learn how to be an effective leader to help our civilization become sustainable, just, equitable, fair and all the other normative and evaluative qualities necessary to ensure not only survival of our species, but a good quality of life as well. Therein lays the issue because in order to figure a way out of the injustices that our civilization suffers, one must first understand those injustices. It makes no sense to attempt to address a problem before the problem is fully understood because then more problems are likely to be created in the process. At least that is the logic behind why I decided to major in both History and Philosophy.

As I began to learn about all of the injustices that are currently occurring to people all over the planet and even to the planet itself, which in turn visits injustice upon the marginalized communities or our planet, but then I also see this pattern repeatedly played out throughout history. Concomitantly, I also discover the stories of several figures who have attempted to inform many leaders and populations throughout time of the dire consequences of particular policies to little avail. Sure, they may have had some success; African Americans are no longer slaves and Women have earned the right to vote in most societies. These examples are particularly acute and salient being an African American male in the United States. However, by simply grazing through one introduction a person can become acquainted with a new form of Jim Crow and legalized slavery that reveals that African Americans are still not truly free of the oppressive nature of the system, but rather, that it has only taken on another form. Just as important, while women can vote, they are still treated as second class citizens and are consistently paid only 3/4 that of men, even when they do the same jobs, in the same companies, have comparable educations and levels of outputs; the only difference is their genders. So, while on the surface it appears that success have been made in terms of justice, the situation is really just rearranged to limit power in some other less obvious manner and people are still oppressed and suppressed and thus, suffer from injustice.

In the past, when a society or civilization was facing similar crises, the collapse of their system, it did not also include the collapse of every civilization on the planet, and possible the destruction of the planet itself. This is not the case in the world we live in today with the set of circumstances that we are currently confronting. Yet, instead of the people coming together to address the problems we are pulling further apart from one another, stratifying and polarizing our societies both internally and between societies themselves. This is only exacerbating the problems and factors that led to the crises in the first place. I am referring specifically to the competition for the acquisition and control of limited resources and land, wherein this competition is driving a wedge between those with access and control of resources and those without. This is of course completely consistent with the ideology of conquest and by corollary, capitalism. However, this is inconsistent with any theory of justice unless one can somehow manage to make the successful claim that the powerful controlling the resources is somehow for the benefit of those who are not in control of the resources. For this claim to be substantiated though, it would have to be shown that the people who are not in control of the resources are actually being benefitted, and the evidence shows that it is quite the contrary. Poverty and famines are rampant throughout the non-industrial regions of the world, the wars fought for the control of these resources continue to murder thousands of innocent people, and those who stand in opposition to this system are systematically silenced and in some extreme cases are removed.

To make matters even worse, the environment we depend on for our survival is being damaged to the point that it is about to cross the threshold of repair. This means, that even if somehow we as a civilization we able to cease all our wars, provide food for all those who need it and to redistribute the wealth into a manner that is more equitable, that if the practices we currently employ in terms of production are not changed, that we will still perish. This drastic change requires that the way of life and standard of living that most of the industrialized and post-industrialized regions of the planet will be irrevocably altered, and most likely decreased. This proposition in itself is contradictory to human nature, at least as we understand because it means that people will have to make an active choice to harm themselves or alternatively, that a governmental institution imposes these alterations on them. In either case, this will prove to be problematic.

On the one hand, people tend to act in their own immediate self-interests. This is especially the case in industrial and post-industrial societies and is extreme in the United States where people tend not to be socialized to sacrifice of themselves for the greater good. For most people it is almost nearly impossible to submit to a diminished existence today for a better future for their children. They can however, save money today, or suffer through a college education for the hope of their own future benefit, so it must be possible for people to do this for future generations, but as yet, we have not witnessed this occur on a massive enough scale to make a difference in the course that our civilization is on. It seems that the problem lays in the situation that has been set up, that people can stay off the immediate benefit for their own future benefit, but once they are no longer the one receiving the benefit a road block is encountered and the suffering of future generations is discounted. Thus, it does not seem likely that this level of change will occur voluntarily unless something very paramount occurs to encourage people to institute this type of move on their own or it is somehow made to benefit them in the near future.

On the other hand, though governments do have the power to impose such a dramatic change in the lives of the people that they govern, but not only would this be political suicide for any pundit that proposes it, but we would likely experience a global civil war. The justification for these claims follows directly from the previous discussion of self-interests. When the people see that their self-interests are not being served and their own existence is being discounted for future generations civil unrest will emerge. If the people have the power to impeach, then this is the likely outcome, which will subsequently be followed a repeal of any enactment the former government instituted. If they do not have the power to impeach, then the most likely outcome is an internal implosion as civil war erupts. If this outcome seems to be overstating the point and reaching beyond the premises, then all one has to do is acknowledge that the corporations, who are the ones controlling the resources and land are also in control of vast mercenary armies. Once this is acknowledged, then it will become apparent that if their claim to control of those resources is subverted that they will be the ones following their ideological bend and leading the revolt.

In either case, it is certain that there is an uphill battle when we are addressing the environmental crises that we are confronting as a civilization. It is a fact that the planet is warming and it is also a fact that much of the warming is human caused. This means that our cumulative use of fossil fuel and coal and nuclear power because of our civilization’s dependency on energy to function at a consistent standard of living is destroying the planet. It is at the very least, destroying the conditions that make life for humans, and creatures like humans possible. There are many options on the table that address many of the issues which have already been mentioned, but nonetheless, the harm that is requisite cannot be fully overcome, so there is pushback against any of it. Yet, while there is inaction because those in industrial and post-industrial societies do not want to manage a reduced standard of living for a period of time, those who are not privileged enough to live in those societies are suffering today. It also means, that as the polar icecaps melt because the planet is warming that the oceans will continue to rise and many of the coastal and island regions will soon be uninhabitable.

Many of these island regions are home to marginalized groups of people and as such do not have the resources necessary to defend themselves. This alone reveals that the actions of those in control of the resources are not managing the system so as to provide benefit to those not in control of the resource. Furthermore, it reveals that a harm is being done to these marginalized groups of people, so those, myself included, are blameworthy and responsible for this harm; however, unintended it may be claimed to be.

Nothing about these circumstances is consistent with utilitarianism, libertarianism, virtue ethics, deontology or any moral framework that I have thus far encountered. Utilitarianism is all about the Greatest Happiness Principle and provided the maximum benefit to the majority. However, the actions of the many now are making harm for the many in the future and that is something that is inconsistent with the calculus. Libertarianism is all about self-interests, but only insofar as no harm is being done. However, are harm is clearly being done now and will continue to escalate if our behaviors do not change. In virtue ethics, what is proposed is to considered what the virtuous person would do given the constraints of any particular situation in accordance with the flourishing of the human society. However, as I have clearly identified, the actions of our civilization are contradictory to the flourishing of our society. And lastly, deontology is focused on rules and the only rule that is necessary to point to is that it is wrong to cause unjust harm. That of itself reveals a contradiction and makes the behaviors of this civilization inconsistent with the moral framework. But, furthermore it also suggests that people should not be used as mere means, and if we are subjecting not only the marginalized groups of people today but also future generations to harm for our own personal benefit, then this also make the actions inconsistent with deontological constraints. Thus, in consideration of any moral constraints, the behaviors of our civilization are immoral, and as such are unjust.

Thus, we come back to the Linus cloud that hovered above my head pouring down onto my soul threatening to smite my fire. I began to think that what I am learning and the path that I have identified is correct for my life is pointless. I forgot that the logic of the plan is to first, understand the situation before I begin to devise a solution to the problems, so that we do not create unintended problems in the process. Well, I am learning about the problems we are currently confronting, as well as, the problems that we face attempting to solve the original set of problems. Although, addressing the concerns of the future does seem bleak, it is not without hope.  The most important thing that I or anyone else can do right now is to inform ourselves and to inform those around us about the reality of our circumstances. Then and only then, can we devise a plan of action together because it will require all of us to address these problems. Only together can we make this world more sustainable, just, equitable, fair and all the other normative and evaluative qualities necessary to ensure not only the survival of our species, but a good quality of life for everyone and all the species we share this planet with

King County Metro Revisions

King County Metro

 

I don’t know if anybody else is feeling this way, but I am freaked out about the route revisions/reductions. The cuts have not even occurred yet, and still the buses are over-crowded and often times leave dozens of us waiting at the stops. Reports estimate nearly 400,000 passengers daily, many of who depend on the system for transportation to work and school. Since, this is what the buses are like now, I dread to imagine what commuting will be like after the cuts.

Community Transit is wise transit; it means less traffic congestion, less stress and irritation, and it is healthier for the planet than personal vehicles.

I made a sound #Environmental decision this morning that also promoted my physical #health, as well as my #memory: I rode my bike to school. White Center to University of Washington.

That means a total of 11.4 miles of travel that I did not have to consume #FossilFuels to accomplish; so a definite plus for the environment there. Physical endurance and cardiovascular training both of which are massively important to maintaining health. What is the craziest is that the #hippocampus, which is associated with memory storage and acquisition is stimulated, enlarged and enhanced by cardiovascular activity. Conversely, a lack of cardiovascular activity will have the adverse effect and actually limit our ability to store and to access memories: some no student wants to have issues with.

So, my decision to do my part to limit the#Tragedy_of_the_Commons and help out the #environment, also simultaneously keeps me healthy and improves my memory so that I can be more successful in school.

Right on!!!

Divest University of Washington