Maintaining Earth-Life into the Distant Future

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* Article: Distant futures and the environment. B.E. Tonn doi



"This paper develops guidelines for long-term environmental policy and an environmental ethical framework that addresses the distant future. It is assumed that humans have an obligation to maintain Earth-life into the distant future, even past the time when the Earth will become uninhabitable. To achieve the goal of maintaining Earth-life into the distant future requires intelligence. Presently, it can be argued that only humans possibly possess the intelligence required to achieve this goal. It is further assumed that if humans become extinct, the chances are poor that Earth-life with the requisite intelligence to achieve this goal will emerge through evolution. It is also assumed that a catastrophic die-off of species on this planet will lead to the extinction of the human species. Taking these assumptions together, then, it is argued that it is imperative that catastrophic die-off of species must be prevented. Several environmental threats to such an event are described and suggestions to overcome the threats are presented. It is argued that the central premise and associated policies and actions represent a unique environmental ethical framework. To ground the discussions, the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere (SAMAB) region in the Southeastern United States is used for context, background, and transference of general principles to specific environmental policies."