I have a manifesto on my portal which is largely anticolonial and antimaterialist and which outlines some of my thinking about how we can stop adding to the ecological disaster before us while setting up an ethical approach to human interactions. I make suggestions as to […]
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies. Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect […]
This past year while living in Haiti and India, I didn’t take any showers. Daily I would “take a bucket” as this was the only source for washing myself in both countries. In the picture to the left there is a large blue barrel into which my family would pour water every couple weeks and from there I would use the white yogurt container to pour water over me. Once to wet my hair and body and if particularly dirty two. Then soap and shampoo which would generally necessitate at least four more yogurt containers of water. I used less than a bucket of water a day to clean myself. Now back in North America, I adapt to this system by just taking super fast showers, although I am certain it is a bit more than a bucket.
How we conserve water depends on our abilities to observe and self-critique. We can have the good intention and ecological rhetoric in the world but unless we are ready to make changes in our own daily lives, no amount of complaining about the prices of fuel or about our governments inability to respect the Kyoto Protocol really has any weight. If we want to conserve water, we need think as individuals how we use water presently and what changes we might effect to reduce our overuse of water.
Rainwater harvesting is the accumulating and storing, of rainwater for reuse, before it reaches the aquifer. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation, as well as other typical uses given to water. Rainwater collected from the roofs of […]
Among permaculture projects in Haiti, I worked on renewable energy within two communities for whom the cost of cooking fuel was either too expensive or unavailable for many leaving these communities the only option they had traditionally used: charcoal. The problems with charcoal use are […]
Published in 1975, Animal Liberation has been cited as a formative influence on leaders of the modern animal liberation movement. The central argument of the book is an expansion of the utilitarian idea that “the greatest good of the greatest number” is the only measure of good or ethical behaviour. Singer argues that there is no reason not to apply this to other animals. He introduced and popularized the term “speciesism”, which was originally coined by Richard D. Ryder, to describe the practice of privileging humans over other animals.
Singer’s most comprehensive work, Practical Ethics (1979), analyzes in detail why and how living beings’ interests should be weighed. His principle of equal consideration of interests does not dictate equal treatment of all those with interests, since different interests warrant different treatment. Ethical conduct is justifiable by reasons that go beyond prudence to “something bigger than the individual,” addressing a larger audience. Singer thinks this going-beyond identifies moral reasons as “somehow universal”, specifically in the injunction to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’, interpreted by him as demanding that one give the same weight to the interests of others as one gives to one’s own interests. This universalising step, which Singer traces from Kant to Hare, is crucial and sets him apart from those moral theorists from Hobbes to David Gauthier, who tie morality to prudence. Universalisation leads directly to utilitarianism, Singer argues, on the strength of the thought that one’s own interests cannot count for more than the interests of others. Taking these into account, one must weigh them up and adopt the course of action that is most likely to maximise the interests of those affected; utilitarianism has been arrived at. Singer’s universalising step applies to interests without reference to who has them, whereas a Kantian’s applies to the judgments of rational agents (in Kant’s kingdom of ends, or Rawls’s Original Position, etc.). Singer regards Kantian universalization as unjust to animals. As for the Hobbesians, Singer attempts a response in the final chapter of Practical Ethics, arguing that self-interested reasons support adoption of the moral point of view, such as ‘the paradox of hedonism’, which counsels that happiness is best found by not looking for it, and the need most people feel to relate to something larger than their own concerns.