California is one of the States in the U. S. that is well endowed with natural resources. However, the existence of demand for the natural resources from the different stakeholders has led to conflicts of interest. The conflict of interest is further fuelled by environmental ethics. Egocentric ethics that are grounded on the claim that wherever is good for an individual will benefit the society are extensive in California. The individual good is given priority followed by the social benefits. Water control in California by the agencies claim that when distributing and managing water their preference is the greatest number of people who can benefit. They aim at ensuring most of their customers get water during shortages (Anderson, 2005). This is unlike some environmentalists who claim that water is a natural resource that should be shared equally by everyone and not based on where the majority of the customers are. The issue of water in California has been subject to environmental ethics for several years. For instance, in the 1970s, the federal government adopted a move to dam Stanislaus River to control flood and water delivery for farmers (Littlefield, 1983). The claim by the federal government was based on the fact that, controlling of floods will help conserve the environment and prevent loss of lives during floods. Environmentalists, on the other hand, objected the move is arguing that the river had a right to continue in its state of nature as a wild river.
Apart from the conflict between letting rivers to flow naturally and damming to conserve the environment and help people, there is a conflict between the wildlife that benefits from the rivers and human beings. For instance, in 1979 Mark Dubois, an environmentalist in California chained himself to a rock claiming that damming Stanislaus River would endanger the right of the wildlife as well as those of rocks since both had the right to remain free (Littlefield, 1983). Apart from rivers forming the majority of environmental ethics, biological control of the population in the different ecological setting has been on the spot for several years. For instance, biological control of pests that was pioneered by the Division of Biological Control of the University of California at Berkeley and Riverside led to over depletion of some species (Light, Andrew, 2011). A good example was a case when DDT killed so many of the vedalia that a resurgence of the scale occurred. To date, biological control of pests is still in use. The governing of mining sites and its regulation by the California state has reflected a lot of ethical concerns in California (Humphreys, 2005). A good example is when priority to mine is given on individual companies. There have been instances where mining in California has left affected rivers as well as the wildlife. Another example is the 2010 Santa Barbara oil spill that affected the environment. In this case, priority was given to mining companies so that the resources can benefit the citizens.
Based on the above analysis, it evident that in California priority is given on benefits of the resources to human beings at the expense of conserving other aspects of the environment. It should be noted that in California two forms of environmental ethics are common. Apart from egocentric that the government prioritizes when allocating companies to conduct mining and oil drilling, the issue of water has largely been based on homocentric ethics (Anderson, 2005). California believes that planning and use of water should focus more on the social good. However, of late the mining docket bin California has largely been involved in ensuring companies conduct their mining activities in a manner which does not affect other organisms such as plants (Humphreys, 2005). The most optimal way for governmental agencies such as those concerned with natural resources to address environmental ethics in California is to ensure every stakeholder is consulted. Environmentalists are the majority who raise environmental concerns thus should be largely consulted.
- Anderson, K. (2005). Tending the Wild: Native American knowledge and the management of California’s natural resources. Univ of California Press.
- Humphreys, M. (2005). Natural resources, conflict, and conflict resolution: Uncovering the mechanisms. Journal of conflict resolution, 49(4), 508-537.
- Light, A. (2002). Contemporary environmental ethics from metaethics to public philosophy. Metaphilosophy, 33(4), 426-449.
- Littlefield, D. R. (1983). Water rights during the California Gold Rush: conflicts over economic points of view. The Western Historical Quarterly, 14(4), 415-434.