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Business Ethics

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Business Ethics ­MGT610
VU
LESSON 26
FORESTS AND BIODIVERSITY
The number of plant and animal species inhabiting the planet is not accurately known. Nearly 2
million species have been identified, but estimates of the number yet to be described range
from 10 million to 30 million (United Nations Environment Program, 1995). Ecosystems of all
kinds are under pressure worldwide. Coastal and lowland areas, wetlands, native grasslands,
and many types of forests and woodlands have been particularly affected or destroyed. While
forests decreased by about 5 per cent between 1980 and 1995, the rate of deforestation has been
declining slightly (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2000b).
Additional threats confront fragile aquatic habitats, including coral reefs and freshwater
habitats, which face an array of assaults from dams to land-based pollution to destructive
fishing techniques.
Over the past 150 years, deforestation has contributed one third of the atmospheric build-up of
CO2, and it is a significant factor in the loss of species and critical ecosystem services
(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2000). Since the beginnings of agriculture
10,000 years ago, by some estimates, almost half of the earth's forests have been converted to
farms, pastures and other uses, and only one fifth of original forest remains in large, relatively
natural ecosystems. Forested areas, including forest plantations as well as natural forests,
occupied about one fourth of the world's land area in 1995. Tropical rain forests are important
for the quantity and diversity of life they support. They cover only 7 per cent of the earth's land
area, but contain at least 50 per cent of terrestrial species (Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations, 1999b). The influences of forests and biodiversity are global, reaching
far beyond national borders, in both space and time. Therefore, international cooperation is
essential in order to integrate environmental issues better into global, regional and national
decision-making processes.
Ozone depletion is also a serious concern. Caused by the release of CFCs into the atmosphere,
ozone depletion may lead to several hundred thousand new cases of skin cancer each year and
destroy many valuable food crops. Also, ocean plankton, on which the entire ocean's food chain
depends, may be severely damaged. Even though CFC production has been nearly halted, we
can expect the gasses already released to continue damaging the ozone for the next century.
Burning fossil fuels causes acid rain and global warming. Though not as devastating as global
warming, it nevertheless is harming many fish populations and trees, corroding bridges and
buildings, and contaminating drinking water. Airborne toxins and air quality in general are also
serious concerns for human health.
Airborne Toxics are less catastrophic but highly worrisome air pollution threats; 2.4 billion
pounds of airborne toxic substances released annually into the nation's atmosphere, including
phosgene, a nerve gas used in warfare, and methyl iso-cyanate.
Water pollution is likewise a serious problem. About 40% of the world's surface water is too
polluted to fish or swim in. Pollution comes from agriculture, mines, oil wells, human wastes,
manufacturing, detergents, and the food industry, among other sources. Today, almost 1 billion
people lack access to safe water and the world's per capita supplies of water are shrinking.
The pollution of the land by toxic substances also causes increased mortality and illness.
Hazardous or toxic substances are those that can cause an increase in mortality rates or
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Business Ethics ­MGT610
VU
irreversible or incapacitating illness, or those that have other seriously adverse health or
environmental effects. Over 58,000 different chemical compounds are currently being used in
the U.S., and the number is increasing each year. How many of these chemicals affect humans,
no one really knows. The sheer volume of solid waste is staggering: each U.S. resident
produces about seven pounds of garbage per day. Though this quantity is massive, it is not even
close to the quantity of industrial waste. The EPA estimates that about 15 million tons of toxic
waste is produced in the U.S. each year. This does not include nuclear wastes, which, because
they are so concentrated and persistent, present special problems for storage and disposal. Each
nuclear reactor produces 265 pounds of plutonium waste a year, a substance so toxic that only
twenty pounds would be sufficient to cause lung cancer in everyone on Earth. So far, no one
really knows how to dispose of this and similar wastes safely and securely.
As if pollution was not serious enough, we also must consider the depletion of species, habitats,
and natural resources. The world loses about 1% of its rain forests each year, and between 15%
and 20% of species had become extinct by 2000. Our consumption of fossil fuels has recently
been rising at exponential rates, but this cannot continue much longer because we are coming
close to the depletion point of fossil fuels. Minerals are also being depleted, so we can expect
them gradually to become more scare and expensive. This scarcity will have a serious impact
on the world economy.
The Ethics of Pollution Control
Businesses have been ignoring their impact on the natural environment for centuries, largely
because the economic costs and harmful effects of this impact have been unclear. Businesses
have treated air and water as free goods that no one owns. Since the carrying capacity of both is
so large, each individual firm sees its own contribution to pollution as negligible. Combined,
however, the effects are enormous. The harm comes not only from the direct activity of
businesses. Pollution also occurs as a result of consumer use of manufactured items. The
problems of pollution have a variety of origins, and will require a similarly varied set of
solutions. The rest of this chapter concentrates on a single range of problems, the ethical issues
raised by pollution from commercial and industrial enterprises.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Business Issues
  2. INTRODUCTION (CONTD.)
  3. THEORY OF ETHICAL RELATIVISM
  4. MORAL DEVELOPMENTS AND MORAL REASONING
  5. MORAL REASONING:Arguments For and Against Business Ethics
  6. MORAL RESPONSIBILITY AND BLAME
  7. UTILITARIANISM:Utilitarianism: Weighing Social Costs and Benefits
  8. UTILITARIANISM (CONTD.):rule utilitarianism, Rights and Duties
  9. UNIVERSALIZABILITY & REVERSIBILITY:Justice and Fairness
  10. EGALITARIANS’ VIEW
  11. JOHN RAWLS' THEORY OF JUSTICE:The Ethics of Care
  12. THE ETHICS OF CARE:Integrating Utility, Rights, Justice, and Caring
  13. THE ETHICS OF CARE (CONTD.):Morality in International Contexts
  14. MORALITY IN INTERNATIONAL CONTEXTS:Free Markets and Rights: John Locke
  15. FREE MARKET & PLANNED ECONOMY:FREE TRADE THEORIES
  16. LAW OF NATURE:Theory of Absolute Advantage, Comparative Advantage
  17. FREE MARKETS AND UTILITY: ADAM SMITH:Free Trade and Utility: David Ricardo
  18. RICARDO & GLOBALIZATION:Ricardo’s Assumptions, Conclusion
  19. FREE MARKET ECONOMY:Mixed Economy, Bottom Line for Business
  20. COMPETITION AND THE MARKET:Perfect Competition
  21. PERFECT COMPETITION
  22. MONOPOLY COMPETITION:Oligopolistic Competition
  23. OLIGOPOLISTIC COMPETITION:Crowded and Mature Market
  24. OLIGOPOLIES AND PUBLIC POLICY:Ethic & Environment, Ozone depletion
  25. WORLDWATCH FIGURES:Population Year, Agriculture, Food and Land Use
  26. FORESTS AND BIODIVERSITY:The Ethics of Pollution Control
  27. THE ETHICS OF POLLUTION CONTROL:Toxic Chemicals in Teflon
  28. THE ETHICS OF POLLUTION CONTROL
  29. THE ETHICS OF POLLUTION CONTROL:Recommendations to Managers
  30. COST AND BENEFITS:Basis of social audit, Objectives of social audit
  31. COST AND BENEFITS:The Ethics of Conserving Depletable Resources
  32. COST AND BENEFITS:The Club of Rome
  33. THE ETHICS OF CONSUMER PRODUCTION AND MARKETING:DSA Comments
  34. THE ETHICS OF CONSUMER PRODUCTION AND MARKETING:Should Consumers Bear More Responsibility?
  35. THE CONTRACT VIEW OF BUSINESS' DUTIES TO CONSUMERS
  36. THE CONTRACT VIEW OF BUSINESS' DUTIES TO CONSUMERS:The Due Care Theory
  37. THE SOCIAL COSTS VIEW OF THE MANUFACTURER’S DUTIES
  38. ADVERTISING ETHICS:The Benefits of Advertising, The harm done by advertising
  39. ADVERTISING ETHICS:Basic Principles, Evidence, Remedies, Puffery
  40. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Psychological tricks
  41. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Criticism of Galbraith's Work
  42. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Medal of Freedom
  43. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:GENERAL RULES, Substantiation
  44. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Consumer Privacy, Accuracy
  45. THE ETHICS OF JOB DISCRIMINATION:Job Discrimination: Its Nature