Volume 1, Issue 1 (4-2014)                   Jsaeh 2014, 1(1): 1-15 | Back to browse issues page

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alijani B. Philosophical Foundation of environmental hazards. Jsaeh. 2014; 1 (1) :1-15
URL: http://jsaeh.khu.ac.ir/article-1-2311-en.html
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Abstract:   (3392 Views)

Environmental hazards include all kinds of hazards in the environment such as natural and technological or natural and man-made. The natural phenomena such as rains or floods are the normal behaviors of the nature which only when they cause damage to the human life, are considered as hazard. The technological events such as road accidents, air pollution and chemical pesticides are always dangerous to human life. Both kinds of two hazards are produced in the context of human- nature relation. For example if human beings avoid flood prone areas there will be no harm or damage. And if human beings control their waste in the urban areas they will never pollute the city. Thus, this is the human who causes risk and damage to his life. The relation between human and the nature is governed by the thoughts and beliefs of human or in general terms his world perspective and philosophy. It is the human perspective and belief which controls his action at any circumstances. A person who believes in the nature as his mother and supporter of life differs from the one who thinks of nature as a sole source to use and enjoy. The first one gets only his basic needs from the environment, but the second person tries his best to exploit the nature for his benefits. Therefore to understand the intensity and frequency of environmental hazards, we should investigate the mental beliefs of people living in different places. A brief discussion of the historical development of hazards will help us to have a better understanding of the philosophical basis of the environmental hazards. From the ancient times up to around nineteenth century life was very simple and man had been using nature only for his basic needs, there was no consideration of environmental hazards. Hazards were considered only as diseases threatening the human life. But later, especially after the industrial revolution, due to the increase of human population and demands, the use of natural resources was exponentially increased far above the production and recovery of the nature. This process triggered the occurrence and expansion of environmental hazards.  The human- nature relation is studied by different scientific fields such ecology, anthropology, and geography from different aspects. The ecologists mostly emphasize on the relationship of individuals with his environment, as the characteristics of environment controls his life. While geography studies the spatial relations between human population and environmental assets. As a result, the philosophical stances of these fields differ substantially. Ecologists want to see whether this relation is dominated by the needs and intentions of man or by the capacity and potentials of the nature. From this point of view three kinds of philosophies were developed including anthropocentrism, biocentrism and ecocentrism. On the other side, geography emphasizes on the spatial distribution of human population on the basis of environmental resources. This spatial relation between human and natural resources is believed to be controlled by the nature or human conducing to the development of two philosophies of environmental determinism and possiblism. Ecological philosophy of anthropocentrism was dominated in the earlier centuries, focusing on the will of human to use and enjoy the nature. In this view, the nature has the instrumental value for human. The result of this philosophy was depletion and destruction of the environment in favor of the human development. But during the twentieth century some philosophers stated that the human does not have the right to harm and damage all living creatures including animals and plants. This view ended with the biocentrism approach.  During the second half of the 20th century due to the over exploitation of nature by human, the philosophers and ecologists realized that the human kind in order to possess a sustainable living should not harm any members of the environmental system including even rocks, rivers, soil and etc. This approach developed the ecocentrism philosophy. The main controlling force in these philosophies is the ethical stance of humans. On the other hand, the older geographers believed that it is the nature that controls the human distribution and living conditions. The humans cannot change the natural arrangement of the environment and should limit their activities to the natural allowances. The development of the technology after the Second World War changed this view. Some geographers believed that human can change the environment by his techniques and developed the possiblism. The adoption of this philosophy and the growth of industrial development ended with the deployment and damage of the natural resources. It is clear from the aforementioned discussion that in all cases, the main reason for the depletion and destroy of the environment was lack of ethical considerations in human behavior toward the nature. If the ecologists have come with the ecocentrism, geographers developed the geocentrism philosophy. That is, to save the nature and prevent environmental hazards we, as human beings, should preserve the natural arrangement of resources. We should not disrupt the spatial order of any resources, because it will cause harmful results in the environment. For example eroding the soil will deteriorate the vegetation and cause floods and other hazards. The alteration of spatial order of surface temperature has caused the thermal imbalance and hence global disorder and warming. There is no doubt that the relation of each human should be controlled and put in the moral contexts, but to prevent the environmental hazards an overall effort is needed over the environment which is possible only through the preservation of spatial order of natural resources. Spatial management of land resources is the outstanding example of this philosophy and ethic.

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Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special
Received: 1970/01/1 | Accepted: 2016/03/10 | Published: 2016/03/10

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