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Ethics of large-scale change

Finn Arler
2006 Danish journal of geography  
The human population has been growing almost continuously ever since the first members of the species Homo sapiens occurred some 150.000 years ago. Our species has been extremely successful and has spread to almost every corner of the world. This is an important point in itself. What is truly significant, however, is the fact that the human population has grown extremely fast the latest couple of centuries, i.e., during a period of time which, measured by long-term standards, is very, very
more » ... is very, very short (Figure 1 ). Abstract The subject of this paper is long-term large-scale changes in human society. Some very significant examples of large-scale change are presented: human population growth, human appropriation of land and primary production, the human use of fossil fuels, and climate change. The question is posed, which kind of attitude is appropriate when dealing with large-scale changes like these from an ethical point of view. Three kinds of approaches are discussed: Aldo Leopold's mountain thinking, the neoclassical economists' approach, and finally the so-called Concentric Circle Theories approach. It is argued that the last of these three approaches must be preferred, even though further interpretation will be needed in relation to specific decision-making.
doi:10.1080/00167223.2006.10649562 fatcat:s4fvlse3z5gmzmemvhhv6d5xry