Essay on The Environment and Its Rights

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In Descent of Man, Darwin states that man’s moral development has grown with respect to his “social instincts and sympathies” and that as man progresses, his regards “became more tender and widely diffused, extending to men of all races, to the imbecile, maimed, and other useless members of society, and finally to the lower animals…” (qtd. in Stone 3). This diffusion appears to continue today, where the discussion of whether the environment should be granted rights is one that has been more prevalent in recent years. The modern concept of environmental ethics has arisen not only due to the moral development that Darwin mentions, but also because of the questionable future of our planet as a sustainable system for life. With our growing…show more content…
The model of rights as stated by animal-rights advocates, says that rights are based on interest and that “all sentient animals, including humans, have an interest in doing that which brings them pleasure, as well as an interest in avoiding harm and suffering” (Boss 647). If animals are interested in avoiding suffering in the same way as humans, why are they not granted this right and protected by law as humans are? Instead, nearly 7 billion animals are killed year in the United States alone to feed our demand for food, clothing, or mere entertainment and in factory farms throughout the country, there can be “several thousand chickens or pigs…housed in one building” (Boss 642). A journalist writes, “factory farmers [believe] animals are no more than machines… Two hundred and fifty thousand laying hens are confined within a single building…[This] is economically acceptable; nothing is more worthless than an individual chicken” (Boss 642). The lack of empathy for a living creature shown by these factory farmers extends to the consumer, whether they are aware of the extent of the abuse or not. Because of these processes and the attention they have received in recent years, there are more vegetarians today than there have been in the past forty years, but only a mere 2.3% (Boss 642). This, as in the case of women in the twenties and blacks in the sixties in America, is
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