PHIL 224, Week 9: Forests


Nov. 22, guest lecture, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Ethics of Climate Change.

Nov. 24, Assignment 3 due (hydraulic fracturing, wind farms). Instructions.

Dec. 1, Exam 3, in class. No final exam.

Structure: same as exam 1, 4 short answers and short essay. Only weeks 9-12 are covered.

Review questions are available at the end of the lecture notes.

How to do well:

  1. Come to class and pay attention.
  2. Do not use laptops or other electronics, for these reasons.
  3. Read the text carefully and critically.
  4. Prepare detailed answers to review questions.

Forestry and Climate Change

Question from last week: How many people should there be in the world?

Why do forests matter?

Pine forests in B.C. are being wiped out by pine beetles: CBC article.

The spread is the result of forest management and climate warming (warmth, droughts).

Feedback loop: warming -> beetles -> carbon increases -> warming.

More on forests and climate change (UN).

Web site on climate progress.

Forest Values (Drengson & Taylor)

Issues: logging, clearcutting.

Reject jobs vs. environment conflict: sustainable communities are parts of healthy biophysical systems.

Instrumentalists vs. intrinsic value view of nature.

Natural entities have rights to evolve.

Principles of deep ecology:

  1. Nonhuman life has value in itself.
  2. Richness of diversity of life forms.
  3. Humans have no right to reduce richness and diversity.
  4. Decrease of human population is desirable.
  5. Humans interfere too much with nature.
  6. Policies must change.
  7. Quality of life matters more than standard of living.
  8. Obligation to implement changes.

Applications to ecoforestry (selection from 16):

  1. Retention of trees, riparian (water-related) zones.
  2. No clearcutting.
  3. Allow the forest to regenerate.
  4. Prohibit pesticides.
  5. Local control, e.g. aboriginal peoples.
  6. Maintain beauty.

Canadian Forest Policy (Peter Miller)

Rejects view of forests as industrial resource (John Locke).

Alternative: love and respect Mother Earth.

Gaia hypothesis: earth as a single living entity.

Evidence-based environmentalism vs. ecomysticism.

Canada Forest Accord. Forests are part of Canadian identity.

Connections with wildlife policy.

Barriere Lake (Shenkier and Meredith)

Issues about Barriere Lake:

  1. Aboriginal land rights and benefits.
  2. Forestry and mining practices.
  3. Local management: direct democracy vs. band councils.

How Algonquin values about nature differ from Euro-American ones:

  1. Intrinsic vs. instrumental view of nature.
  2. Land ethics: promote integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
  3. Human and non-human communities interconnect.
  4. Need to sustain the environment, using myth, ritual, and social community.
  5. Conflicts with commercial forestry and mining interests.

Why do people deny that climate change is a serious environmental problem?

Ignorance: people don't know the evidence

Motivated inference: goals bias beliefs: see my August blog post.

Anxiety-driven inference avoidance: see my October blog post.

Review Questions for Week 9

  1. According to Drengson and Taylor, there are 16 principles of ecoforestry. State 5 that you think are most important.
  2. What does Miller think are Locke's mistakes concerning the value of nature? Explain 4 with respect to forests.
  3. According to Shenkier and Meredith, what are 4 main ways in which Algonquin values differ from commercial/industrial ones?
  4. Essay: From the ethical perspectives of consequences and rights, what limits should be placed on commercial forestry practices?
    1. statement of at least two alternatives
    2. consequences pro and con, and evaluation
    3. rights and duties, pro and con, and evaluation
    4. overall evaluation.

Phil 224

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Nov. 9, 2011