Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whilst Government Environmental Consciousness?

What sort of ethical or moral commitment does a government have to the environment? Does it matter if it's the federal, state, or local government? This story from Treehugger about the GOP's disdain for the EPA speaks to a certain contingent's notions about these concerns. Of course, I read the Treehugger account after a class discussion on public transportation, one that used Portland's TriMet as a jumping off point. Pretty cool TriMet video below.

18 comments:

Carly E said...

Transportation has very much evolved since the early 19OO's. Transportation such as the tri-met is a great system to provide transportation to all people. Individuals who do not necessarily have their own vehicle can still get to where they have to go and have jobs. If everyone road the bus instead of driving think of all the gas emissions that would be cut. Bus transportation is not only a convenience it is also good for the environment.

Ashley Klein said...

I feel that the government should have a significant responsibilty for ensuring that people have access to public trasnportaion. Without question, if more people used public trasnportation the negative impacts on the environment from carbon emmissions via vehicles would be reduced. It doesn't matter if it is the federal, state, or local level... something must be done. If passing stronger regulations that are related to the environment would make people drive less, organize car pools, or take public transit; why hasn't our government passed such legislation? Why isn't Raleigh's public transportation system more efficent or extend to indivduals who live outside of the city limits?

Duncan Shorter said...

I think that it is an ethical obligation for the government (at the very least the local)to consider the effect of their proposals and legislation on the environment, since without the environment itself, they wouldn't even be able to legislate or create order within the lower echelons of their respective society. It is the concept of survivability and sustainability, thus logical and efficient use of resources, that require governmental heed for the environment.
However, I don't believe it a moral obligation, since anyone (and unfortunately often, exemplified by contemporary politics) within a government can be a reprobate in office. It is not a moral obligation since nature does not contain an intrinsic "just vs. evil" system, only humans. It is not a fair representation of nature to declare it "needed to be saved" for the only stance that can be taken upon such a statement is one of ethics. Not for a debate of it being "right" or "wrong". Which are completely subjective and arbitrary virtures endemic to any given culture or government.
Ethics however, are a little more "clean-cut", on the stance of what needs to be done in order to prevent totalistic extinction of life on Earth.

Thomas N said...

The government should have a responsiblity to the environment toa great extent. The TriMet is a great example of a public transit system that helps the environment. It also combines the ease of the public tranist system to get people to where they need to be at a certain time. This is a great idea for many transit systems and a lot of cities have put something like this into place, but it is very hard to get people to use it. This type of transit system can help big cities but only if the people take part in the system.

Jenny Gough said...

Government commitment reflects individual commitment to the environment. Individuals have an ethical as well as moral commitment to the environment because they take from and affect the environment with daily needs and activities of life. The government is therefore responsible for providing means for individuals to meet this ethical and moral commitment through the institution of laws, policies, and safe environmental practice standards. By providing a structure and guideline to ethical and moral environment practices, the government fulfills its commitment to the environment. It ultimately falls to the individual to obey policies and laws and follow governmental guidelines. In this way, ethical and moral commitments to the environment are fulfilled.

Annie Berrier said...

I think that public transportation is a great way to not only help those in need of a ride get where they need to go, but also to help preserve our environment. I think it is a great way to make a difference, even if it's a small one. I also feel that it should the responsibility of the federal government to provide public transportation like Tri-Met since the decline of our environment affects everyone living in the U.S., not just residents of a particular state.

Heather said...

The government is meant to be a sort of role model for the global world. So I believe that the government has a huge commitment to helping protect the environment both ethically and morally. The government is made up of people whom also depend upon the environment for food, shelter, and oxygen just as everyone else does. It certainly should not matter whether it is the federal, state, or local government, because each branch should be equally as worried about the drastic decline of the environment. Trees are being cut down left and right, temperatures are steadily rising in the poles, and species that have been around for hundreds of years are gradually becoming extinct. Without trees, and plants, humans would not be able to survive because we rely on their photosynthetic ability to produce oxygen. All three levels of government should be working together to reduce the pollution that is being put into our environment each and everyday.

Kendra Staub said...

I strongly believe the government has an ethical commitment to the environment. The government should take care of the ecosystem, that has allowed them to grow and prosper. All divisions of the government, federal, state, and local should be morally committed to taking care of the environment and creating laws to help keep this planet healthy and safe. People not only look to the government for advice, but also they are required to abide by the government. So it is very important that the government be actively involved and serious about taking care of our planet. Public transportation is a start to decreasing gas fumes, but it is not the solution. It is alleviating to know the government is trying somewhat, but I hope to see more action.

Gwynhwyfyr said...

The government is in place to take care of greater concerns. Most humans take care of their own lives and borders, and the government needs to catch the interconnecting issues. For instance, hospitals may be private, but hospital systems are regulated thoroughly by the government. Individuals may sponsor roads in order to have them bear a particular name, but the government is responsible for public roads in general. Environmental issues are much bigger than each individual person, so the government may indeed have a responsibility to set legislature.
Ethics is overwhelmingly described as a set of principles of right conduct, or a theory or system of moral values. Before the government is really free to set legislation regarding environmental ethics, the definition of 'right' and 'wrong' need to be thoroughly defined and nailed down. At this particular point in time, preserving nature is considered a 'right' action, whereas destruction of nature is considered a 'wrong' action. These definitions need to be carefully parsed over and considered in the majority of cases, and then the ability for flexibility in individual cases needs to be provided for.
In the United States, the local governments deal with small issues, those issues on city or county scales. Then the state catches larger issues, but still those within the borders of the state. Finally, the federal government catches issues that are multistate or international. There is little reason for these different areas of legislature to change.

Ashley M said...

The government has more of an ethical concern of the environment. The government sees the environment as being there for its use and doesn't see it as being the basic necessity of our lives. Through public transportation we are cutting down on emissions into the atmosphere and are protecting the environment. Though I believe the government realizes that by using public transportation they feel like the are helping the environment in an "ethical" manor, but aren't morally committed to it. The government can enact laws and regulations to help preserve the environment and in turn help sustain ourselves from an ethical stand point like they have been, but if you don't view the earth as the basic fundamental of our everyday lives and think of the consequences we would face should we continue to treat it like we have on a moral stand point, that the earth is like a human being and should be treated as such, then the sustainability of life as we know it is in trouble. Public transportation is a start to helping preserve the environment and the government on all levels should realize other factors they can help change and what else they can do for the environment. We don't necessarily have to be "treehuggers" but just more environmental conscious.

Gokul Shankar said...

Government's main commitment is the well being of the people it serves. Therefore, protecting the environment is crucial because damage to the environment will negatively affect the people in the long run. Ethically, it cannot overlook environmental issues because it is well known that such issues will be prominent and disastrous in the near future if something is not done.
It does not matter whether it is federal, state, or local government when it comes to environmental regulation. The only difference is the extent of regulation. The federal government should pass laws and manage interactions between state and local offices, which should focus on issues within their respective borders.

Megan Williams said...

The government should ethically have its citizen’s best interest in mind when making decisions. The government wages war, makes laws, and follows the justice system to protect us. Regardless of people's views on war or justice, the one commonality that must be protected is our environment. If not morally for the environment and nature itself; it should be ethically done to prevent the decline of health of so many based on pollutants. Vehicles are the single largest cause of emissions that negatively affect our breathing air. By providing a convenient, reliable, and clean public transportation system, the government would be doing its job. Cutting funds from the EPA will accomplish nothing; it only makes the government look irresponsible and apathetic towards our health.

Cooper Hatch said...

I think that the government, all levels of it, has both an ethically and morally commitment to help save the environment. They are the ones that make the laws that people have to follow, so if they just make more laws that will reduce the effect we have on the environment. One of the things that the government is really pushing now is public transportation, which will really help the environment and help people reduce their carbon footprint. Also, the government is made up of people just like everyone else, they depend on the environment around them to survive. If they start doing 'green' things, like taking the public transportation that they set up or following the water restrictions that they set, then that will set a good example for the community around them.

Reese Ward said...

I believe that the government as a whole has a certain responsibility to protect and preserve the environment. It is because we use the environment for everything that we need to protect it so we can keep using it and not end up in a barren wasteland. I do think that the needs of the people far exceed those of the environment. That government has a commitment to the people before the environment and should weigh decisions accordingly.

Katie Zimmer said...

I feel like the government plays a significant role in our country's commitment to the environment. The government is there to set an example for the people of our country and if they are not being conscious of their actions, why would our citizens care either? I think the government as a whole is responsible which includes the federal, state, AND local governments. I think the TriMet video is an excellent example of how our government can help to protect and sustain our environment. I believe mass transportation would be a great way to protect our environment if the entire country took on this task and not just a city in Oregon.

William Swanek said...

A government needs to try to take care of the environment. Without their prodding many people and corporations would not be invested in protecting the natural world. Sure some people would still want to do it, but it seems to me that many more people would remain uneducated on the issues at hand if the government did not at least debate about them amongst itself. What happens to the environment now is crucial to what happens to humanity in the future and the best vessels for the movement to protect it are those in power

Jonathan Ingram said...

I believe that the government should have a huge responsibility in helping the environment. Although I feel this is something they should have a responsibility in doing I think their part should be more of a job of introducing ideas and creating them to the public and in return I feel it is the citizen’s duty to follow the government’s advice and do their part and help in any and every way they can. For example the Tri-Met transit is a great example of a government project which has helped in many ways and it has become very successful due to the support of the public. Not only does this provide transportation for those who don’t have access to personal transportation it also gives those who do have access an easier and more environmentally friendly option which may save time and cut back on emissions which ruin our air and ozone.

Kiatra Frink said...

I believe that the government has a commitment to the environment. If we did not have the government to help regulate how we protect our ecosystem, then how else would we go about protecting the environment? Citizens already disobey government regulations as it is, so imagine trying to get individuals to listen to environmental protection groups alone that are concerned with the well being of the environment. These environmental protection groups can not do it alone, therefore I believe the government does have a commitment. It doesn't matter if it is the federal, state, or local government. After all, by protecting the environment, we are protecting ourselves as well because we depend on the environment. It is the government's job to protect its citizens so it is the government's job to protect the environment as well. Encouraging citizens to use public transportation is a start, however I do not forsee it becoming heavier means of transportation for individuals because I can not forsee an enforceable way to make people take the transit instead of driving their own cherished personal automobiles.