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Ecology

(1,011 words)

Author(s): Bouma-Prediger, Steven
1. Term The term “ecology” refers to the earth and its communities of life, particularly as they interact in complex and dynamic ways. The science of ecology studies the interrelationships of organisms and their environments. Derived from the Greek terms oikos and logos, ecology is the study of the (worldwide) household; as such, it is related etymologically to economics (the law of the household). 2. Modern Issues The zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) introduced the term “ecology” in 1866. He used it to describe what then was called the economy of nature. In…

Environment

(446 words)

Author(s): Bouma-Prediger, Steven
1. The term “environment” generally refers to the natural world. For example, people often speak of concern for the environment or of environmental policy or of environmental law. In each case the word refers to the nonhuman realm, taken in whole or in part. For example, environmental law is the section of the legal code that pertains to human duties to care for creation (e.g., to protect endangered species or to regulate production of toxic wastes). Environmental policy refers to the codes and procedures, sometimes codified in law, that provide guidelines …

Environmental Ethics

(1,257 words)

Author(s): Bouma-Prediger, Steven
1. Term and History While “environmental ethics” has no universally agreed upon definition, one common way of describing it is an ethic for the earth and its communities of life. In contrast to typical ethics—which has to do with moral duties, rights, goods, values, and the like with respect to humans and their actions—¶ environmental ethics, as prominent philosopher-ethicist Holmes Rolston III puts it, refers to duties to, and values in, the natural world—that is, duties we humans have to sentient animals, plants, species, and ecosystems. In this …