A Questionnaire about Environmental Ethics: What is it to love ‘Nature’?

What is it to love ‘Nature’

Q1: Think of protecting the ‘valuable’ natural environment. What kind of idea do you have for that? What does ‘valuable’ mean to you? Let us know your idea or thoughts.

A1: I prefer the natural environment that is not developed and not managed by human beings as much as possible. The more we develop the primitive nature, the more far it goes away from the image in my mind. Therefore, ‘protect the natural environment’ means not to develop the primitive nature at all or not to manage the environment any more

Q2: We prefer not only a ‘valuable’ natural environment but also a ‘common’ natural environment. What type of environment do you prefer or do you consider it as the most important for you? Let us know your thoughts and your experiences.

A2: I consider that ‘valuable’ as the degree of difficulty in recovering or restoring. For example, when I visited Azumino and Kaida Highland in Nagano Prefecture, I took a deep breath of fresh air, saw a stream of clean water and inhaled the odor of Japanese cypress. I heard the birds’ singing on the pathway in mountain and saw a lot of species of butterflies and even shrilling of cicadas were not loud. As far as I know, Nagano has rich and valuable natural environment compared with Osaka.

On the other hand, I prefer the natural environment that makes me relaxed. I love a smooth hiking in forest and around a lake or a pond. From the view of relaxation, Hampstead Heath of London, UK and the grass fields and the farming areas in the Netherlands and Germany were valuable to me. Although from the view of ecological research, the level of biodiversity might low at these areas due to the excess of human development and management, I never forget the feeling of free and relax.

Q3: Although the regulation about humane killing (or slaughter) of animals is established by Act on Welfare and Management of Animals in Japan, but the act is intended for animals under the control of human, such as pet animals, zoo and aquarium animals, livestock, and laboratory animals. On the other hand, in the actual field of natural conservation activities, for example in the population control for various damages mitigation, control of invasive alien species, wildlife rescue and research, there are many situations that needs culling of wildlife. The act that specifies the humane killing (or slaughter) of wildlife has not been fixed yet. With a view to carrying out the natural conservation, what kinds of animals should be allowed to be killed, and what kind of method and situation should we admit?

A3: Some people consider that alien or invade species such as black bass species and the monkey, Macaca cyclopis should be excluded from Japan. I think that killing living creatures must be our guilty. On the other hand, we can’t live without them since we deeply depend on a lot of animals. The ethical scholar, Peter Singer says that if the animal doesn’t feel pain, we are allowed to kill it. I don’t agree with his opinion.

Basically I don’t accept the thought of ‘drawing the line that means a conceptual separation or distinction.’ Animals with no pain should be killed / With pain should be NG, or these organisms should be OK / those organisms should be NG.

I have two reasons for the opposition. As first, no matter how hard we try to find a point of compromise, we never find it out. Second, the ‘drawing the line’ can conceal ‘our sense of guilty.’ We always feel ‘the sense of guilty’, when we kill any living creature. ‘The sense of guilty’ must be our ‘nature.’ We don’t have to lose ‘our nature’.

Although we cannot avoid drawing the line in our actual lives, the act of killing cannot be confirmed by any ethical reason. I believe that unconditional positive regard is essential to all living creatures.

Q4: There are some living things such as cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies, the tolerant weeds and the disease-causing germs that are sometimes considered as not necessary in our society. If those living things are on the verge of the crisis of extermination, do we have to conserve them? Or, do we have to leave them to chance?

A4: Every organism has a potential to become a pest for human beings. Under certain conditions, some organism such as cockroaches, mosquitoes, tolerant weeds and disease-causing germs consequently have a harmful effect. We conclude whether the organism is a pest or not. It’s our one-sided view on them. Even cockroaches didn’t used to be pests before we were born. When the population size of cockroaches reduces, they are less capable of disrupting our activities. The control project of fruit flies or Aedes aegypti was curried out for the purpose of economic benefits or pubic health. The persons who made distinctions and arrangement to suit our convenience. There should be no ethical reason.

I agree with the conservation of living things that are on the verge of the crisis of extermination since ‘unconditional positive regard’ can imply biological conservation. The conservative action includes drawing the line, if the condition changes, some species become not applicable to conservation actions. If unexpected increase in population is caused by our excess conservation of a certain species, it’ll be a total loss for us.

I doubt the attitude of desiring to justify the ‘distinction’. The issue that we secure our living belongs to a different sphere from the issue that we conclude whether kill them or not in our actual lives. The judgment is based on the reasons of ecology, economy and public health, not on ethical reason. I’m really afraid that justifying of ‘drawing the line (or distinction) will conceal ‘our sense of guilty.’