Environmental Ethics


For this assignment, you will conduct an ethical analysis using one of the case studies provided. Please refer to and cite at least one of the readings from class and at least one additional scholarly source from your own research.

Format: Your Case Study Analysis should use standard formatting for an academic paper, including 1” margins, a standard, 12 pt. font, double-spacing, and a consistent citation method (MLA, APA, Chicago). Each completed case study should be 500-1000 words (500 words minimum). Submit your case study analysis as a Word document only (please do not submit a PDF).

Choose ONE of the cases:

1. Even with significant reductions in the use of nonrenewable resources, the world still needs a massive amount of energy. Hydroelectric dams may reduce dependence upon forms of energy production that contribute to global warming. However, building dams harms humans, animals, and other living things and may endanger certain species, ecosystems, and the lives and cultures of indigenous people. Assuming that you must choose between building dams with those negative effects and continuing to operate coal-fired power plants which will contribute to the degradation of global ecosystems, determine whether or not we should we build more dams.

Consider the relative importance of present and future generations, and the moral standing of each of the different parties and stakeholders affected by the building of the dam.


2. Assume the following scenario: Global warming related to climate change is making it easier for black and grizzly bears to survive in habitats formerly inhabited solely by polar bears. Competition with polar bears, as well as interbreeding, are drastically diminishing the numbers of ‘pure’ polar bears, which will likely go extinct without human intervention. It is relatively easy, but expensive, to trap the non-polar bears. Although some of the other bears could be relocated, many would die in the traps. Carefully regulated hunting focused exclusively on black and grizzly bears could also help shift the balance back in favor of the polar bears. Allowing hunting, however, would be deeply insulting to local indigenous peoples, while also bringing needed economic vitality to struggling non-native, rural communities.

What, if anything, should be done about the potential extinction of polar bears? Does it matter whether global warming is caused by human activity? Would it matter if the relevant species were trees instead of bears?

Include the following sections with sub-headings

Introduction & Background information: Briefly summarize and describe the case

Ethical Questions: State the primary ethical questions you will address in your case study (ex. Scientists cannot yet bring back extinct species. However, if this becomes possible in the future, should scientists pursue this research? Should people living in affluent, post-Industrialized societies like the US consume animal products?)

Key Stakeholders: Who or what stands to benefit from or might be harmed by this case. For each stakeholder, note their values, concerns, worldviews (use key terms and concepts you have learned in class).

Options: What are the best possible options to address or resolve these ethical questions?

Position: In the final section (at least one solid paragraph), write a strong justification for your position, including factual content or evidence that supports your position, the views and interests of key stakeholders that are most relevant, specific ethical considerations that support your position (moral status, intrinsic value, justice, minimizing harm, etc.)

Citations: Include references or works at the end of your analysis (not included in word count) with at least two sources (one from class and one from your research).

At least one of the sources must be an essay we have read for class.

“Equality for Animals”, Peter Singer (this would be a reading to reference)

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