Ethics, Economics, and the EPA

Right now there seems to be a parade of ugliness going on in Congress and people lobbying it about the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Newly elected Republican representatives are out in force trying to gut the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to do things it has been charged to do for 40 years and prevent it from enforcing its newest findings on limiting greenhouse gases. They want to hamstring the agency from preventing pollution, slash its funding by almost $2 billion, and gut the agency's enforcement potential.

It takes no stretch of the imagination for you to see that we at Sustainability Now think this is not only bad for people and our shared natural environment, it is also unsustainable. On several fronts, you might say it's immoral or unethical. The new push by the Tea Party candidates and the Republican faithful will unfairly burden poor people with the cost of unregulated fossil fuel extraction from coal to natural gas. It will cause health problems to people who can't afford health care. It will pollute water especially in poor places in America. It will line the pockets of people who already make well above the median income and expand income disparity. It will further pollute air, waterways, lakes, bays, and our common ocean areas. It lacks moral fiber.

And why? In the name of profit and jobs. I don't mean to suggest that jobs are somehow unimportant. We need income to survive in this country and we need fair wages to live well enough. Jobs it is.

But where are the jobs that could be supplied by the income of the CEOs of companies like BP, Chevron, Chesapeake Energy, Rex, and Massey? Why is it equitable, just, or fair? How is a corporation granted more and more powerful rights than a living person?

How can profit-maximizing and growth economics not only accept but benefit from issues like climate change?

On Friday's show, we will crack open some of these and many other issues with Don Brown. A major critic of the ethics (or perhaps lack thereof?) in economics, he will talk with us about the ethical dimensions of growth economics, of science and scientific uncertainty, and of climate change. He is a professor of Science, Technology, and Society and Law at Penn State. He has worked for the Clinton and Rendell administrations. He has been present at major international environmental negotiations including the 1992 Rio summit and the Bali (2008), Copenhagen (2009), and Cancun (2010) climate summits. He is one of the lead authors at climateethics.org, a major blog on the ethical and moral dimensions of climate change.

Listen at 4 pm on The Lion 90.7 fm from 4-5 pm on Friday February 18th. Feel free to call in: (814) 865-9577

* Peter Buckland was Don Brown's assistant when he was president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium.

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