all I want is to response to those discussions.
In my opinion it does not matter whether it is intrinsic value, instrumental value, or aesthetic value. It all boils to down to preserving the earths natural beauty whether we know it or not. From preserving national parks, protecting certain locations in the ocean, and protecting endangered species it all comes back to valuing the natural world. When it comes to determining the damage that has occurred in the environment when a disaster. I think we have to right idea because a terrific way to do that would be to compare the current environment changes to from the past. For example, this battle that we are going through about whether climate change is an actual real thing. We miss this up every time because we don’t expose the average person to the reality of how much damage has happened to the earth. In my environmental law and politics class there was an article posted about 29 states suing the EPA to delay the relax restriction for coal burning plants. However, I totally get this because when it comes to this process how many companies are making sure scrubbers are installed in the smoke stacks to release toxic gases into the atmosphere. You can take thinks like the actual temperature for certain area and see a huge dramatic increase or decrease in temperatures around the world. In addition, to that place like China has such a huge smog problem because they have little to no restriction on emissions from factories to such a point you must wear a mask to go outside in certain area depending on the what’s going on in the atmosphere. I would equate the EPA to being like QA (i.e. Quality Assurance) who’s primary job is to ensure the upper echelon meaning the elected government figures are holding the people accountable and lower echelon is following the rules both the businesses and consumers. The EPA has been created to both enforce and educate the local population, but they don’t really provide the necessary checks. Like random spot checks and local community checks of the natural environment being disrupted. To get the total outcome of damage all things need to be assessed because as I learned for geology the earth has a constant life cycle. Toxic gases that are release into the atmosphere are rained down on the very land we live on. That in turn is soaked up into our very soil and either deposited into our ocean via run off or just raining into our bodies of water throughout the world. We would have to exam water samples in various place compare species of plants, animals, and aquatic life that has died off. This damage to the soil can destroy how fertile the land is when it comes to growing food. This could eventually turn into a huge shortage in food once we completely destroyed the soil by adding other chemicals to the equation. When it come to the ozone layer that protects us from the sun burning us like ants under a magnifying glass. The raise in temperatures or drop in temperature’s is a indication of climate changes or harsh storms happening all over the globe.
I have decided to write my initial post about one of the suggestions listed above, the Keystone Pipeline project, because since last week it has gone from “what might happen if it leaked,” to a true environmental disaster. A crude oil spill from a pipeline leak was discovered on October 30th. Part of the Keystone 1 Pipeline in North Dakota was shut down after a leak of about 9,120 barrels of oil — 383,040 gallons — was discovered, TC Energy company said in a statement. The oil leak was discovered just north of Edinburg, in the northeast part of the state, and affected about 2,500 square yards of land, the company said. The company is not sure how the leak started, but says an independent party is examining the pipeline. “We are establishing air quality, water and wildlife monitoring and will continue monitoring throughout the response. There have been no reported injuries or impacted wildlife,” TC Energy said (Johnson, 2019).
What is kind of infuriating to me about this disaster, is this is exactly what the Indian tribes feared would happen. This is exactly why they were protesting the construction of the pipeline.
So, in the prompt for this exercise we are asked to attempt to determine the value of the damage that was done. As it was explained in the assigned readings from the text and from the module overview, ethicists distinguish things with intrinsic value from things with instrumental value. I will attempt to determine both types of value here.
I’ll start with the instrumental value, which according to the module overview are things valued because they bring us something else, such as money. In the case of this oil spill, the initial damage that I can see of instrumental value is the value of the oil itself which can no longer be sold on the open market. The price of crude oil these days usually ranges between $50 -$75 per barrel, so losing 9,120 barrels cost the oil company roughly $450,000 – $700,000. That’s immediate financial loss. But then there is the cost of the cleanup of the oil spill which could be in the millions of dollars by the time that it is completed, with no guarantee that the wetland can be saved at all. But another form of long-term instrumental loss could be the damage to the oil company’s reputation, and loss of confidence by its investors which could drive down the value of the company’s stock. There is already a large movement in investments world-wide to divest in fossil fuels companies due to public pressure. If investors lose faith that this company can keep disasters like this from happening again, it could definitely cause a loss in value of stock, which would be a loss in value of the oil company itself.
Next, we should consider the intrinsic value, which the module overview states are things valued for their own sake. I believe that there is, or at least was, great value to this wetland prior to the spill. Wetlands are extremely sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, so in this case with such a large spill there is no guarantee that this wetland will ever recover, regardless of any amount of time and money spent to clean it up and restore it. But these wetlands do have intrinsic value. Wetlands can provide habitat to literally hundreds of species, even in a small area as a few acres. The species that live in this wetland depend on its habitat for their very survival, so the intrinsic value to the native species is immeasurable. The company’s response statement given above that “There have been no reported injuries or impacted wildlife” is completely false. I don’t know how the company can even try to say something like that. I am sure that more than a few species that live in this wetland area were extremely impacted, and more than a few animals destroyed. Many animals if not outright destroyed have hopefully moved on to other areas to find new habitats. And what about the surrounding area? As a liquid, petroleum will disperse out through the soil, perhaps finding its way into the local water table, where it could move even further out affecting ecosystems for miles away. When the Indians were protesting the construction of this pipeline, they coined a phrase: “Water is Life.” And it’s true. A human can live around a month without food, but only a few days without water. And just about every other species needs water to survive as well. So, I would argue that in this case, an intrinsic value of the damage is that of the damage done to the water, which is part of this wetland, which is invaluable. The water does have its own value, as it provides life for all sorts of species in the area.
One more intrinsic value I believe that I would mention is the value of the beauty of this rural wetland. Wetlands can be quite beautiful, and they can bring people and other animals joy, safety, security, and peace. The text readings wrote at length about assigning value to the beauty in nature, especially in Janna Thompson’s “Aesthetics and the Value of Nature.” In those writings I found: However, the fact that we can discriminate and justify our discriminations before others means that we can affectively argue that some parts of nature have a worth that demands respect. This respect brings with it ethical obligations. Everyone (whether they make the effort to appreciate this worth or not) has a duty to protect and preserve natural beauty that is at least as demanding as the duty to preserve great works of art (Thompson, 1995). I believe that what Thompson is saying here, is that we have a responsibility or an obligation to preserve these wetlands that is just as important as the obligation to protect the Mona Lisa, or the Sistine Chapel. But this wetland is more than likely gone now, as it probably is beyond repair due to the large amount of oil spilled. And that intrinsic value, at least to me, is immeasurable.