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Ethics

The Biosphere and Economics

The biosphere of Earth is comprised of all of the various elements that sustain life on the planet, the ecosystem that includes the crust, waters, and atmosphere. The biosphere can be tremendously affected by global economic issues, and in recent decades, there has been a great drive to achieve sustainability in order to protect the biosphere from further human-induced damage. This paper will discuss the relationship between economic activity and the health of the biosphere, and the importance of green technology and other environmentally-friendly methodologies that have become extremely important to consumers.

Until relatively recently, capitalism, including manufacturing and other industrial endeavors, paid little attention to the impact on the planet that business procedures and the disposal of hazardous waste presented. Factories felt free to dump toxic waste into rivers and streams, polluting the waters as well as topsoil of the surrounding areas. These practices had detrimental effects on people, as well as plant and animal life: clean waterways and healthy farmland were significantly threatened by pollution. In those days, the main priority was profits regardless of whom and what was harmed or even destroyed. There was no such thing as recycling, garbage and waste was simply stored in large landfills or dumps, and businesses were completely oblivious or apathetic to the effects on the biosphere. Ultimately, people started becoming aware of the negative impact on the environment and on the inhabitants of the planet of these irresponsible behaviors by industry, which was purely driven by profit motives.

During the last few decades, however, people started becoming aware of the connection between business practices that threaten the environment and both the degradation of the biosphere as well as health concerns to people and animals that were the result. The recycling movement was one early drive that recognized the need to reeducate the public in order to preserve the integrity of the current environment and atmosphere, as well as to guarantee its survival for the future. Recycling even became part of elementary education of children, as well as the general public by posting signs, print the recycling symbol on products that could be reused, promoting anti-littering campaigns and placing garbage cans and wastebaskets everywhere, even providing monetary incentives to recycling bottles and cans. In addition, eventually the issue of greenhouse gases and their threat to the environment became a well-known issue, which resulted in raising consciousness about fuel efficiency, developing energy-efficient light bulbs, creating solar panels, and other methods that allowed people to contribute to the health of the planet by participating in green technologies.

Because the public has become so much more aware of environmental threats produced by human behavior, it has become politically correct to be involved in making every effort to try to reverse the man-made damage done to the biosphere. There are many examples of this public consciousness: for example, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, an extremely popular company, is successful both because its product is desirable, as well as implementing green technologies to produce recyclable containers. Many, if not most communities, have recycling practices as mandatory parts of their civic life, providing recycling sites in which people can separate their recyclables into glass, plastics, paper, medical waste, all of which act to protect the Earth’s biosphere. In addition, there are strict regulations regarding the disposal of toxic waste so that both land and water are protected from contamination. Littering is a crime as well, bringing the issue down to the micro level, so that all citizens can participate in protecting the Earth’s atmosphere and environment. Companies that are discovered to be violating clean air and water acts are fined, and those that are engaging in unethical behaviors that threaten the atmosphere are frequently boycotted and receive very negative press, so that there are tremendous economic pressures on such companies to reform their practices so that they are more in keeping with the Green movement.

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