Mainstream media depicted the shooting of an endangered gorilla as a tragic necessity because a child was at risk of grievous harm or death. Whether implicitly felt or explicitly stated, the assumption was that the life of this child was more valuable than the life of this gorilla.
Nature forces such choices on us, and what we really need is a guide to how to weigh harm in the pursuit of the good. A guide to decide when the good outweighs the harm. Never says the Precautionary Principle!
Writing about historical carbon output, like most philosophers, I worry about who has done what, who is owed and who owes, whether ignorance matters or not, and so on. But in all of this debate there is an embarrassing silence about "Nature."
Anthropocentrism -- putting humans first and acting as if we're the only beings who count -- is a bad lesson for youngsters who will inherit the messes we leave. A more humble, right-minded, and less anthropocentric position argues for valuing and conserving nature because of its intrinsic value.
When we ask such a question or "Do animals have souls?" what are we are really saying? We are revealing a deeper existential and theological question about how human beings relate to other living creatures.
We have made great idols of our ability to harness the resources of the earth, damming rivers, moving mountains and creating great structures that reach to the sky. While we have gained great benefits from our labor, it is time to now think of how to treat the earth with kindness.
While the present Jewish environment movement has been doing a very good job on educating and activating the Jewish community on the issues of food sustainability and energy conservation, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done.