Ethics plays an important role in our society today, and environmental ethics and business ethics must be considered. This has become more prevalent in today’s society. The term “Ethics” itself means the “Combination of Philosophy with Technique”.


Environmental ethics is a branch of ethics or philosophies that studies the relation of human beings and the environment and how ethics play a role in this. Environmental ethics believe that humans are a part of society as well as other living creatures, which includes plants and animals.

These items are a very important part of the world and are considered to be a functional part of human life. Thus, it is essential that every human being to respect and honor this and use morals and ethics when dealing with these creatures.

Environment ethics has produced around environmental philosophy and is not asserted on people by any law or policy. It is rather a personal responsibility that should be developed to establish a stable balance between society, economy and the environment.

History of Environmental ethics

The concept of Environmental ethics was first popularized from Earth Day in 1970 and the scientific works of experts like Rachel Carson who helped to develop environmental ethics in the US, and soon thereafter the same ethics were developed in other countries including Canada and North America.

Two papers published in Science had a crucial impact on the development of the concept and need for Environmental Ethics:

  • Lynn White‘s “The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis” (March 1967)
  • Garrett Hardin‘s “The Tragedy of the Commons” (December 1968).

The first international academic journals in this field emerged from North America and Britain.

  • US-based journal Environmental Ethics in 1979
  • Canadian-based journal The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy in 1983.
  • British based journal Environmental Values, in 1992.

It is the part of environmental philosophy which considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world. The concept combines scientific understanding with various philosophical aspects like human values, moral principles, and improved decision making into conversation with science.

Importance of Environmental ethics

With the rapid increase in world’s population, the consumption of natural resources has increased several times. This has degraded our planet’s ability to provide the services we humans need. The consumption of resources is going at a faster rate than they can naturally replenish.

Currently, environmental ethics has become the major concern for the mankind and hence the ethics are of prime importance for today’s generation to have a clean, stable and sustainable future.

  • Environmental ethics are a key feature of environmental studies, that establishes a relationship between humans and the earth.
  • With environmental ethics, you can ensure that you are doing your part to keep the environment safe and protected.
  • It exerts influence on a large range of disciplines including environmental law, environmental sociology, eco-theology, ecological economics, ecology and environmental geography.
  • Environmental ethics promote the increased use of clean and renewable sources of energy like wind, water, sunlight, and geothermal energy over non-renewable sources of energy like coal, petroleum, and petroleum which are major sources of environmental pollution.
  • Many scientists have taken up the belief of philosophical aspect of environmental hazards thus giving rise to environmental ethics. 


Environmental Ethics & Decision Making

Successful Environmental ethics involves the proper balance between ethics and decision making. The right questions need to be answered the right way to develop, stabilize and save the environment.
There are many ethical decisions that human beings make with respect to the environment. For example:
  • Should humans continue to clear-cut forests for the sake of human consumption?
  • Why should humans continue to propagate its species, and life itself?
  • Should humans continue to make gasoline-powered vehicles?
  • What environmental obligations do humans need to keep for future generations?
  • Is it right for humans to knowingly cause the extinction of a species for the convenience of humanity?
  • How should humans best use and conserve the space environment to secure and expand life?
  • What role can Planetary Boundaries play in reshaping the human-earth relationship?