Ethics plays an ever increasing role in our society today, and environmental ethics and business ethics must be first and foremost. This has become more prevalent in our society today, especially after the Wall Street melt down a couple of years ago, and people have been swindled far too often by unethical business practices. Those unethical business practices have also carried over into environmental ethics, and bad corporate behaviors have contributed to many of our current environmental issues, While Wall Street and profit mongers control much of the business model, they must also include environmental ethics into their corporate strategies. This also boils down to social responsibilities, in that the bad effects of environmental neglect by corporations leads to a high degree of social issues arising from negligent corporate environmental actions.
In 2010 we experienced a wave of environmental disasters, some of which can be attributed to corporate environmental neglect. The BP Oil Spill and the Hungary Red Toxic Sludge Leak were part of world headlines, to name a couple. Weather disasters have also continued to fill the headlines, and not just for sensationalism, but for the true devastation created by these events. Whether or not they are related to climate change will never be determined, as climate change deniers and climate change supporters both will argue the facts until they are dead. Points can be made for both sides, but the point we should focus on is that it is happening, with no end in sight.
Both oil and coal are bad, not only for the environment, but for all living creatures, and they are both highly toxic in their natural raw state. They pollute the air and ground and water, and whether or not they are helping to create these natural disasters should be irrelevant. They are both finite, and will not last forever, and the sooner we rid ourselves of the need for these two demons, the better. While oil and coal companies continue to promote their products, and the best yet is clean coal, which is an unethical definition of something that just isn’t possible, their ethics come into question, especially environmental ethics. Most of the worlds ills are derived from both of these, with oil spills, mining accidents, fires, and now climate change and global warming.
With sound environmental ethics incorporated into the business ethics model, these issues would be addressed and would lead to better social responsibility by the companies that would follow this model. While profits remain king, I see ethical issues arising from this model. Profits are important, but at what cost? The cost for the polluting, poisoning, and now climate change we are experiencing should far outweigh the business needs for a few corporations. As the environmental cataclysm’s mount, so will the costs, in both human and financial numbers, which will by far surmount any profits made by these monomaniacal companies.
Hopefully we can learn from our past mistakes and consider that environmental ethics need to be just as important, if not more important a role as business ethics. Profits are all fine and dandy, and when everyone is making it they usually don’t ask questions about how it was made. I now consider the profits from coal and oil endeavors blood money, earned at the cost and disruptions to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people, up to and including their deaths.
While everyone was more interested in the stock market surges of the ’90′s and other surge periods, we looked the other way when it came to business ethics, and environmental ethics for that matter too. Now we have paid some of the price for this lack of a moral compass, at least financially. Now we are beginning to see the costs mount up for our lack of environmental ethics combined with business ethics, as death tolls and costs mount for the natural disasters we are currently experiencing. More people have died this year alone from natural, or, I would imagine in this case, less than natural disasters than have died in the last 40 years from terrorist attacks.
This bring me to my point, we must develop a plan that all would adhere to that would require businesses to incorporate an environmental ethics plan and include it with their business ethics model. Social responsibility by corporations should no longer be frowned upon, and needs to become the first and foremost priority of the business model for the future. I remember an old saying, do what you love and the money will follow! I can’t imagine anyone loving to hurt, maim, kill, or destroy their own home (Earth), neighbors, both human and animal, and families for generations to come. Now that should be a crime! In fact, in April of 2010, UK Lawyer Polly Higgins proposed to the United Nations that ecocide be recognized as an international Crime Against Peace, alongside Genocide, Crimes of Humanity, War Crimes, and Crimes of Aggression, triable at the International Crime Court. So plans are in the works to deal with these crimes, and criminal actions. Ecocide by the way, according to Wikipedia, the new proposed definition would be: “Ecocide: the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.” Patrick Hossay, a U.S. environmental activist and theorist implies that we are committing ecocide through industrialized civilizations effects on the environment on a worldwide scale.
So, in essence, the current business model doesn’t work anymore, not if we don’t want to destroy what we call home, our planet Earth. We must re-prioritize our responsibilities, and put our homes and welfare first, over greed and profits and the incessant need for stuff. We shouldn’t let the megalomaniacs dictate what is good for us, what we need, and what is good for the planet. We need to rein these folks in, and turn off the addictive, destructive behaviors we are currently engaged in and get a grip on our lifestyles and begin to treat our planet and home with the respect and care that we would our house, car, computer, stereo, iphone, and tv. Environmental ethics must play just as important a role as business ethics if we wish to continue to live in a ‘normal’ world, or at least what we are accustomed to. Without the convergence of these two ethical models, we may as well stick our heads between our knees and kiss our butts goodbye. The good news is that we can use all that blood money from oil and coal to start fires when the next ice age hits.
Brian is a writer, environmentalist, entrepreneur, activist, web developer and consultant. Current projects are related to the environment and creating a better understanding of it’s importance to all of us and to spread the word that it is in all of our best interests not to ignore what we are doing to our home, or think it is okay to dump toxic waste into our drinking water, or poison the air we breath, or the food we eat. There are many issues at stake here, and we must address these now, before we run out of options. There is still time to limit the amount of damage that will occur because of our negligent actions, but that time frame is diminishing with each and every day.