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2016 Conference

Abstract Number: ETH-11 | ID: 4811

On the ethics of environmental disasters

Alhaji A Aliyu*, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, alhajimph@gmail.com;
A broad range of environmental disasters, both natural and man-made, befall people on Earth. These continue to increase in frequency, and sometimes in severity. Many factors, including anthropogenic, climate change, urbanization, and rapid population growth are contributing to the escalation and impact of these disasters.
Our settlements increasingly impinge on inherently risky terrain (fault lines, barrier islands). Exploration and exploitation of Mother Earth’s resources not only degrade, but grossly contaminate our planet. Examples include oil contamination of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta of Nigeria; and deforestation is a major problem across the world (Ethiopia, India and Nigeria).
The human toll and economic costs of these events have increased over the years and are not uniformly distributed across the continents. The environment that has supported human existence has now become greatly threatened. Is this a trade-off by humanity for Earth’s supportive and regulating processes to feed and fuel human population growth and development? Technological development and urbanization have underpinned human exploitation of the environment, facilitating human progress at all levels.
Despite existing laws, regulations and international treaties to protect the environment, as societies embark on “sustainable” development; we remain vulnerable and affected by large-scale environmental disasters in the 21st century. What are the ethical dilemmas communities and societies face in balancing the twin issues of environmental protection and conservation, and economic development? What are the ethical missing links that need to be aligned to make the environment healthy while at the same time promoting economic prosperity? Are the citizens of the world not ethically bound (without taking the law into their hands) to safeguard the environment? These are questions that will be used to stimulate discussion to engage the audience.