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Reparations for environmental degradation and species extinction: a moral and ethical imperative for human society

Keywords: Environmental reparations , Sustainability , Ecological restoration , Ecological life support system , Ecological damage , Eco-ethics

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Abstract:

While the history of reparations within Homo sapiens is lengthy, only recently has the concept been applied to events that have caused degradation or damage to natural systems. Some effects have been unmistakable, even to the untrained eye, and reparations have been made in a short temporal span. However, what should be done about ecological damage that has occurred incrementally over large temporal or spatial spans? If all parties involved are no longer living (e.g. slavery, colonialism), should the descendants of one group, who had nothing to do with the situation and are individually innocent, pay descendants of the other, who did not suffer directly? Degradation of the planet's ecological life support system will cause all humans to suffer, directly or indirectly, regardless of the degree to which they contributed to the damage. Repair of ecological damage is an act of enlightened self-interest, as well as an ethical imperative. Although current events may make restoring the planet's ecological life support system seem futile, even irrational, the forces of destruction cannot exceed those of restoration for a substantial period of time without resulting in severe disequilibrium, whether societal or ecological. The only long-term hope for the human species - sustainability - is a constructive, compassionate approach. Regardless of what happens to humankind, it is probably that some species will survive until the sun fails. Even if the human species does not, it seems ethical to make an exit that is notable for acts of compassion rather than acts of rage and revenge.

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