Category Archives: Environment

Ethics Quiz: The Natural Lawn

lawn

(Commenters complained that the last quiz was too easy. This one is not.)

In the St. Albans Township, outside of Alexandria, Ohio, Sarah Baker and her partner  violated the local ordinance and stopped mowing their one acre of property. “A potpourri of plants began to flourish, and a rich assortment of insects and animals followed. I had essentially grown a working ecosystem, one that had been waiting for the chance to emerge,” she wrote in the Washington Post. The first time the couple tried this, they were fined a thousand dollars but capitulated and mowed their lawn. Now, though they have been found to turn their property into a “public nuisance” due to neglect, they are defying the town and certain that they are in the right. Baker writes in part:

” About 95 percent of the natural landscape in the lower 48 states has been developed into cities, suburbs and farmland. Meanwhile, the global population of vertebrate animals, from birds to fish, has been cut in half during the past four decades. Honey bees, on which we depend to pollinate our fruits and other crops, have been dying off at an unsustainable rate. Because one in three bites of food you take requires a pollinating insect to produce it, their rapid decline is a threat to humanity. Monarch butterflies have been even more affected, with their numbers dropping 90 percent since the 1990s. Butterflies are an important part of the food chain, so ecologists have long used them to measure the health of ecosystems.

Nature preserves and parks are not enough to fix the problem; much of wildlife is migratory and needs continuous habitat to thrive. Natural yards can act as bridges between the larger natural spaces…[M]aintaining a mowed and fertilized lawn also pollutes the air, water and soil. The emissions from lawnmowers and other garden equipment are responsible for more than 5 percent of urban air pollution. An hour of gas-powered lawn mowing produces as much pollution as four hours of driving a car. Americans use 800 million gallons of gas every year for lawn equipment, and 17 million gallons are spilled while refueling mowers — more than was leaked by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops, chemicals that can end up in drinking water and waterways…I’m not alone. Homeowners across the country have latched on to the natural lawn and “no mow” movement.

… If we allow ourselves to see a mowed lawn for what it is — a green desert that provides no food or shelter for wildlife — we can recondition ourselves to take pride in not mowing.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is...

Is Baker’s unmown, natural lawn in defiance of the town ordinance ethical?

Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: Sabrina Corgatelli, Fick

sabrina_corgatelli2

Just as the Cecil the Lion kerfluffle began to disperse (as Republicans try to recruit a dentist to shoot Donald Trump), frequent Ethics Alarms commenter Ing scored a Comment of the Day on my follow-up post about in-your-face giraffe-killer Sabrina Sabatelli, who intentionally mocked the Cecil mourners.

I designated her a fick, someone who publicly revels in their unethical conduct. Ing demurs, and employs the three Niggardly Principles to make his argument. I’ll be back briefly at the end; in the meantime, I’ll add the Niggardly Principle definitions to his commentary so you don’t have to follow the link back and forth.

Here is Ing’s Comment of the Day on the post, Sabrina Corgatelli, Fick: Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Environment, Etiquette and manners, Facebook

Ethics Dunce: Cecil The Lion Killer Walter Palmer…Or Any Big Game Hunter, Really

Walter James Palmer, a  Minnesota dentist,shot and killed the famous Cecil the lion with a bow and arrow. The death of the 13-year-old animal has caused an international uproar among conservationists because Cecil was well-known to visitors at the Zimbabwe nature reserve and enjoyed human contact. The lion was lured out of the national park and shot.

In a statement, Palmer said that the authorities had yet to contact him and added that he did not know the lion he had killed was a “local favorite.” “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted,” he said. “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

Oh, so what? Why is it worse to kill a “local favorite” than to kill any wild animal just for—yechhh–the fun of it? Killing for sport is ethically indefensible, and killing these large, beautiful, and even endangered creatures is ugly, cruel and irresponsible.

After Cecil, the photos show Palmer with some of his other “trophies.” He must be so proud… Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Environment

Ethics Observations On The Impending “Little Ice Age” And Climate Change

snowpiercer

From Alphr:

Between the years 1645 and 1715, there was a period of bitterly cold winters in the northern hemisphere. The winters were so cold that the Thames completely froze.This was caused by low solar activity, known as the Maunder Minimum, and when it will happen again has been a source of debate among scientists. Well, according to a new model that promises 97% accuracy, we’re due another “little ice age” in 15 to 25 years time. The prediction is the work of mathematics professor Valentina Zharkova from Northumbria University, examining the sun’s so-called “11-year heartbeat”. This is the period at which the sun’s activity remains steady before fluctuating every 10-12 years. Zharkova’s new model forecasts solar cycles based on two layers of moving fluid within the sun, one near the surface and another in the convection zone. By using this model, Zharkova’s team found their predictions “showed an accuracy of 97%”.

At this moment, I’m not concerned about whether the prediction is right or wrong; there’s plenty of time for me to buy ear muffs. I do think it is fascinating, however, and I offer these observations:

1. Question: Why has this story been virtually ignored by the mainstream news media?  Answer: Because progressive journalists haven’t figured out how to reconcile their climate change, environmentalist, pro-EPA dictatorship, “all climate change skeptics are idiots and the equivalent of Holocaust deniers” narrative with its implications, that’s why. This is news, don’t you think? “Fit to print,” correct? Any time some semi-respectable scientist predicts that we have 20 years left to knee-cap American industry or the seas will boil, that’s headlines at MSNBC and the Times, isn’t it? I can’t think of a more blatant example of unprofessional and biased news manipulation for purely ideological reasons than the fact that this story has thus far been isolated to European and Australian news sources.

2. The theme of environmentalists and the progressive establishment, as well as elected officials who are just as certain about climate change despite not remotely understanding the science, is that the science is settled, that disastrous, man-caused global warming is certain, and that no argument to the contrary will be accepted or respected. Yet scientists just figured out, using a new model, that a massive global cooling will occur just 15 years from now.  Quite simply, according to the angry, insulting rhetoric from the Gores, Pelosis, Obamas and their pundit cheerinbg section, this is impossible. Science has settled, and cannot be wrong, what the temperature will be a hundred years or more from now, and that’s that—no skepticism allowed. The models are undeniable! And yet, a new model, just developed, shows that a decidedly non-warming trend  not predicted by those perfect models is now certain. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

A Niggardly Principle Quiz: The Politically Incorrect Statue

Jesuit-Missionary-Pierre-Jean-De-Smet-slu

A  statue in the middle of the campus of Saint Louis University, a private Jesuit institution, depicted famous Jesuit missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet S.J. praying over two Native Americans dressed in traditional clothing. There had been increasingly intense demands from some faculty and student activists to remove the statue. Summarizing the objections, a student editorial recently argued that the statue sent an unacceptable message to Native Americans and others that

“You do not belong here if you do not submit to our culture and our religion…The statue of De Smet depicts a history of colonialism, imperialism, racism and of Christian and white supremacy.”

[ The editorial also said that “As the protests surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner have shown us, just because racist policies are off the books doesn’t mean that racism is no longer practiced.” I am trying not to allow that fatuous, counter-factual and ignorant statement cause me to regard the writer and his piece as unworthy of serious consideration.]

Naturally, as is almost always the case, the spineless, path-of-least-resistance driven administrators at the university capitulated, and moved the statue into some museum.  Note that this is a Jesuit university, and teaching is one of the primary things that the Jesuit order does.

De Smet was a remarkable individual who, far from imposing his beliefs on Native Americans, began his obsession with starting far West missions for the native tribes in the U.S. after the Salish and the neighboring Nez Perce sent four delegations to St. Louis, where he was stationed, to find a “black robe” to live among them. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Quizzes, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

California Government Ethics: Water Sprinklers During A Drought…In The Rain

The catastrophic shortage of water in California has prompted rationing and the looming prospect of permanent changes to the state’s economy and lifestyle. Yet this week a citizen with a cellphone captured video of California Department of Transportation sprinklers sewing the precious fluid along a freeway…as a light rain fell following a night of showers. Meanwhile, along the freeways, message boards are warning motorists of the importance of responsible water use in the drought, stating “Severe Drought. Limit Outdoor Watering.”

In my business and corporate ethics programs, I often use a hypothetical based on a true incident at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which the staff was told that there would have to be a freeze on raises and new hiring because of financial challenges facing the association. They were told that everyone would have to sacrifice for the vital mission of the Chamber. That same week, the General Counsel’s office received a long-delayed remodeling, with expensive new furniture, artwork and carpeting. Morale plummeted, and the absence of trust in management was palpable. I use the incident to demonstrate the consequences of leadership hypocrisy and absence of integrity, when those in power hold themselves to different, and lower, standards than they claim to champion.

What California did was far, far worse. Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Leadership

There Is No “Debate”: Graffiti Artists Are Vandals, And The First Step To Stopping Them Is To Eliminate The Myth That They Might Be Anything Else

Rattlesnake Canyon "art": Breathtaking!

Rattlesnake Canyon “art”:
Breathtaking!

Since I don’t get out to the ol’ hiking trail that often, being chained to my desk, I was blissfully unaware that a group of lawless and arrogant vandals masquerading as “graffitti artists” are moving their ugly misappropriation of public spaces to the wild.

From the L.A. Times:

Andre Saraiva is an internationally known graffiti artist. He owns nightclubs in Paris and New York, works as a top editor of the men’s fashion magazine L’Officiel Hommes and has appeared in countless glossy magazines as a tastemaker and bon vivant. Two months ago he showed up on the decidedly un-fashionista website Modern Hiker, along with a photo of a boulder he tagged in Joshua Tree National Park. Since then, Saraiva, who lives in France and is known by his fans as Mr. Andre and Mr. A., has been scorned by American nature lovers and thrust into a highly charged debate. Saraiva is of a new generation of graffiti artists who regard nature — not just the built environment — as their canvas. They tag national parks, then post photos of their work on the Internet.

The Times—they are so open-minded in California!—goes on to say that “those acts infuriate outdoor enthusiasts,” as if there is any reason for the acts not to infuriate every thinking and reasoning human being on the planet. This is the awful journalistic device I have flagged in a political context, minimizing clearly unethical conduct by suggesting that only those with an agenda see it as wrong. “GOP critics assail Hillary Clinton for foreign donors,” for example, is a misleading characterization suggesting that one would and should only object to blatantly unethical conduct if one was a Clinton foe. Wrong. There is something ethically rotten about anyone who doesn’t see Clinton’s conduct as seriously unethical, just as everyone, not just “outdoor enthusiasts,” should recognize that defacing rocks, trees and landscapes is indefensible, ethically and legally.

Andre Saraiva is a fick–a person who acts unethically and celebrates it shamelessly. He is an art fick, a sub-species Ethics Alarms has not encountered often.

Jonathan Turley, a hiking enthusiast as well as a Constitutional scholar, makes his conclusion crystal clear, in the embodiment of the Ethics Alarms principle that “where ethics fail, law steps in”: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society