Environment & Heath: The Ethics of People and Planet

What comes to mind when you think of intersections between the people and the planet? Maybe you imagine hikes with your family, farming, and sustainable products. Or, perhaps, you picture global warming, extinction, and nuclear power. Regardless of what comes to mind, our footprint in terms of the environment is largely impactful and, in many cases, irreversible. With an environmental deadline of the year 2030, now more than ever, we must be conscious of the effect that human behavior has on the environment.  

To some, Bioethics may be interpreted as the connection between medicine and ethics. But, this year’s theme opened our eyes to new connections between ethics and the environment. “Environment” is a very broad term, and over the course of the class, we worked to interpret what the environment means to us and what groups it entails. For some that meant the connection between human and animal, while others focused on the human to planet connection. In studying this topic of the ethics of people and planet, we asked many questions: Should we even continue research in life extension technologies if the costs outweigh the benefits? Is it possible to limit the amount of water consumed on a global scale? Are there other less invasive ways of population control? Why would we not do everything in our power to save our planet? Who owns space? Do humans have a duty to protect animals? Are we overstepping our role as humans by “playing god” in these situations? And finally, where do we draw the line in terms of where our responsibility begins and ends? As a community, it is our job to bring these questions to light and address the concerns regarding this topic in order to minimize our negative footprint in the environment.

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