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Environmental Ethics

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Dollar Value of Ecosystem Services Last Updated on 2012-04-05 00:00:00 The value of ecosystem services typically goes unaccounted for in business and policy decisions and in market prices. For commercial purposes, if ecosystem services are recognized at all, they are perceived as free goods, like clean air and water. Is accounting for these services an idea whose time has come? This Focus article, written by David C. Holzman*, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by Encyclopedia of Earth editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the Encyclopedia of Earth. Accounting for Nature's Benefits: The Dollar Value of Ecosystem Services Healthy ecosystems provide us with fertile soil,... More »
Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends: Cultural and Amenity Services Last Updated on 2011-08-28 00:00:00  This is Chapter 17 of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment report Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends Coordinating Lead Authors: Rudolf de Groot, P.S. Ramakrishnan. Lead Authors: Agnes van de Berg, Thaya Kulenthran, Scott Muller, David Pitt, Dirk Wascher, Gamini Wijesuriya. Contributing Authors: Bas Amelung, Nesa Eliezer, Aspara Ram Gopal, Mechtild Rossler. Review Editors: Xu Jianchu, Hebe Vessuri Main Messages Human culture is strongly influenced by ecosystems, and ecosystem change can have a significant impact on cultural identity and social stability. Human cultures, knowledge systems, religions, heritage values, social interactions, and the linked amenity services (such as aesthetic enjoyment, recreation, artistic and spiritual fulfillment, and intellectual development) have always been influenced and shaped by the nature of the... More »
Scientific Integrity Policy: U.S. Department of the Interior Last Updated on 2011-02-08 00:00:00 Scientific Integrity Policy of the U.S. Department of the Interior The U.S. Department of the Interior has established a policy to ensure and maintain the integrity of scientific and scholarly activities used in Departmental decision making. The policy follows on a Presidential Memorandum to the Heads of Departments and Agencies on Scientific Integrity issued in December 2010. The policy includes the designation of a Departmental Science Integrity Officer. “Because robust, high quality science and scholarship play such an important role in advancing the Department’s mission, it is vital that we have a strong and clear scientific integrity policy,” said Secretary Salazar. “This policy sets forth clear expectations for all employees - political and career - to uphold the principles of scientific integrity, and establishes a process for impartial... More »
Biodiversity Glossary Last Updated on 2010-05-21 00:00:00 Introduction A biodiversity glossary is presented herein, to aid in understanding the many facets of a topic important to scientists, policy makers and the public. Scientists have been studying —and warning of— a global biodiversity crisis for decades. The decline of biodiversity is arguably the most significant global environmental threat now facing humanity. Loss of biodiversity is not only important from the standpoint of ecological integrity, but also for loss of ecosystem services and valuable genetic material instrumental in pharmaceutical advances; furthermore, many people have strong moral issues associated with being part of a generation who is ushering in a period of greatly eroded species composition. Scientific research suggests that as a result of human activities, ecosystem, species and genetic diversity are declining at a rate that far exceeds... More »
Precautionary principle Last Updated on 2009-11-25 00:00:00 The precautionary principle is the political translation of increasing scientific uncertainty with regard to humanity’s effect on the environment. The precautionary principle was officially articulated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development defines the precautionary principle as: "in order to protect the environment the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by states according to their capabilities where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage a lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing {C}cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation" This definition of the precautionary principle is important for two primary reasons.  Firstly, it explains the idea that scientific uncertainty... More »