ETHICAL ISSUES RELATING TO HUMAN USE OF LAND

Ethical Issues

Ethics refers to the moral principles that govern an individual or a group’s behavior. It, therefore, concerns the distinction between actions that are deemed good or evil, or right and wrong. It concerns moral principles, rules, norms, standards and is inseparable from social power for ideal justice as well as a right relationship (Noddings, 2013).

The ethical issue of concern about land herein is sustainable land use. Sustainability involves understanding the prerequisites of one’s actions on the land they live in so that they do not ruin it, use it up, or limit how much one can draw from its reserve to an extent that it is depleted faster than it is replenished. These parameters prescribe that which is inherently wrong or casually harmful (Conway, & Barbier, 2013). Therefore, it creates a sense of responsibility to persons so that they are morally commitment to ensure environmental sustainability in the use of land. Environmental sustainability in the use of land ensures that individuals can meet their needs of the present as they make use of the land resources without compromising the ability of the generations to come from meeting their needs. This implies that the right or wrong is judged from the consequential outcomes of one’s action in using land resources. If it depletes, degrades, or negatively affects the land resource, then the action is morally wrong. If the land use system maintains the productivity of the land, it is justified as morally good or right.

 

The land context in which the ethical issue is situated 

As a land context, agricultural production or farming is affected by many ethical issues; leading to unsustainable production. These include deforestation, pollution, farming the steep slopes, use of fire extensively among other practices.

Agricultural production is good for providing food to feed the world population. It is, therefore, an essential part of human life to sustain the population. In the context of farming or agriculture as a form of land use, issues of sustainability are very important in ensuring the productivity of the land is maintained (Conway, & Barbier, 2013).  Therefore, land use ethics prescribes certain actions regarding the farming practice that need to be carried out in a sustainable manner. Ziadat, & Taimeh, (2013) observes that, when a farmer uses fire extensively, they deplete the soil nutrients and kill the soil microorganism. This leads to low fertility in the soils. The resultant effect has reduced the productivity of such soils that in effect will bring about poor food production and subsequent hunger. Using fire extensively is thus an ethical issue in the context of agricultural land use. As such ethics defines it as wrong based on the outcomes that it presents to land, people, animals or nature in general. It is unsustainable.

According to Arslan, et al., (2014) another issue in the agricultural land use context is farming on the steep slopes. When this is done especially with furrows oriented downhill, erosion is enhanced. Erosion will take away all the nutrients necessary for supporting agricultural production. Other vegetation will not be able to survive. The effect will be a less productive land that does not support food production not just for man but for other animals, wild and domestic. The effect will also be felt across the food chain. This will impact greatly on the lives of all biotic organisms affecting their survival.

Lechenet, et al., (2014), observes that, pollution on the other end with respect to farming or agricultural production can be seen as unethical. It is ethically wrong for one to use chemical; pollutants that finds their way into the water bodies killing aquatic life. Use of Pesticides that have such environmentally harmful effects is morally wrong. Therefore, in agricultural farming, one needs to carry out the practice e in a manner that causes little damage id any to an extent that the environment can replenish itself. This is important to ensure that people are able to farm continuously the land to sustain life both for humans and other biotic organisms.

The land context described above, agricultural land use, is illustrating ethical issues that confront this part of nature. It is prudent that our interactions with nature do not limit our ability to gain from its resources in the future. That is the sustainability aspect. Therefore, while individuals engage in farming, sustainability needs to be their focus.

The correct ethical decision that should be applied to this issue

The correct ethical decision that should be applied to this issue is defined by the outcome. In this context, we can use the consequences of the action as a way of defining the good or wrong. With regards to land use, in this case, agricultural production, there is a need for the ethics of sustainability to be ingrained. This involves the use of organic fertilizers rather than chemical compounds that degrade the environment. For pests’ control, there are organic pesticides or less harmful pesticides that are not transmitted through the food chain through bioaccumulation (Lechenet, et al., 2014). There need to be moral actions that ensure that farming on the steep slopes needs to b conducted in a sustainable manner. This involves farming with furrows oriented against the slope or farming along the contours. Additionally, afforestation and reforestation programs should be encouraged but with the use of trees that are not alien to the given locality since they may lead to depletion of soils and water resources.

The ecologically sensitive areas should be protected. They include wetland and river banks so that their ecology is maintained to enable them to perform their ecological functions such as purification of water and maintenance of aquatic life. Environmental sustainability will ensure the land is kept productive without depleting its nutrients or killing the microorganisms (Conway, & Barbier, 2013). As such, sustainable agricultural practices like conservation farming, mixed farming among other should be adopted as ethical ways of using the land to produce food. These, if taken into consideration will lead to adherence to the ethics of sustainability. Environmental sustainability will thus ensure the present day population meets their food demands without compromising the ability of the future generations to satisfy their food demands among other uses of land (Arslan, et al., 2014).

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