This study reviews the many different bases for wanting to preserve the environment. By seeing how protagonists approach the same situation from different assumptions, some of the origins of environmental conflict may be established, and ways of resolving conflict can be identified. There are two major issues in environmental ethics: The first asks whether the problems can be solved within current approaches, or require instead lifestyle changes for the whole of western civilisation. The second issue concerns why the environment should be valued. This review identifies a series in increasingly stronger valuations that can be identified as: 1. Hedonistic – we protect the environment because we like it. 2. Utilitarian – the environment is valuable to us 3. Consequentialist – we want to preserve things for other people – now or future. 4. Intrinsic – The environment has virtue in its own right 5. Extrinsic – we value the environment because it is of consequence to some thing else – theistic (a God). Thirdly, these insights are used to explore potential ways of resolving environmental conflicts, notably by the recovery of democratic decision making at the right scale: local, national or even global.
About the Author
Adrian Armstrong is an hydrologist with 30 years practical experience of water management in agricultural and ecological contexts. He is honorary professor at Birmingham University, where he lectures in Environmental Ethics, and is also a priest in the Church of England.