PHIL 3712: Global Environmental Justice

General EJ

Précis of the Course:

This is an interdisciplinary course that applies concepts in ethical theory such as sustainability as part of fairness to future generations, and intrinsic value in nature – to major environmental issues arising from aggregative human impacts on the biosphere. Drawing on several recent books packed with stunning information and written in a form accessible to all, we survey the largest-scale environmental problems that confront the whole world. We will focus on the scope and potential results of these problems, and the issues of justice that they raise. These problems include:

  • deforestation, the resulting carbon release, drying of soil, and loss of animal species
  • global warming, its multiple effects on climate, and the debate over its causes
  • soil erosion, desertification, availability and productivity of arable land to feed growing numbers
  • potential exhaustion of accessible fresh water sources needed for growing irrigation and industry
  • pollution of lands, rivers, and oceans by excessive resource extraction and waste sinking
  • exponential increases in energy usage, largely from fossil fuels, and renewable energy sources
  • the effects of human population growth and per capita usage increases on all the above
  • the lack of world-wide governing institutions that could regulate environmental externalities
  • fair ways of holding nation-states responsible for preserving global environmental goods.


John Davenport
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