"Environmental Ethics, the Natural Trust, and the Ahimsa Doctrine as a Legal Constraint,"

Law School, Jindal Global University; Commentary on Environmental Law. February 17, 2014.

Joseph Vincent Siry, Ph.D.

 

A.   Ahimsa – outdated old idea or relevant to current revolution in practice?

B.        "redefine our concepts of political and economic feasibility" ?  Bill Ruckleshaus

C.        public trust doctrine in water law is the single strongest statement that historic uses must accommodate modern needs. Luna B. Leopold

D.        development theory and practice – Modern life required multiple uses for water

E.         Electricity generation systems: centralized, solitary fuel source & water intensive

                                                         vs. distributive, diversified & renewable
F.         Findings of facts: population, water use, electricity & land use

G.   Goal = LAW or land, air, and water are inseparable         

Detailed discussion

A. Ahimsa

            an old idea that is merely informative or is it substantive and influential?

     "Living without (direct or indirect) violence to others."

 

Ahimsa, predates (obviously) the ecological ethics of the 20th century, such that we can suggest western ethics may be derivative if the west is more cognizant of where the Hippocratic Corpus may have origated.

 

B. how humankind develops the ability to assess ecological risks with enough ‘lead time’ to take precautionary action to avert catastrophic outcomes.

 

Ecosystems are notoriously non-linear

 

"redefine our concepts of political and economic feasibility"? Bill Ruckleshaus

                                    sources of wealth

                                    public versus private spheres are not so easily recognizable & thus distinguishable

                                    corruption

                                    market failures

                                    reinvestment

                                    insurance

 

C. public trust doctrine in water law is the single strongest statement that historic uses must accommodate modern needs. Luna B. Leopold

That is to say there is a perpetual social interest in assuring access to productive fisheries, wildlife, dependent as they are on the river's adequate flow and biological capacity

                        Modern needs: (list some)

                                    Four freedoms (1942) ?

                                                freedom from want

                                                freedom to know

                                                freedom to peaceably assemble

                                                freedom to worship

 

D. development theory and practice – Modern life required multiple uses for water

                                    1) incompatible versus compatible water uses

                                    2) protecting fisheries

                                    3) sanitation and drinking water

 

E.   Electricity generation systems: centralized, solitary fuel source & water intensive

                                             vs. distributive, diversified & renewable

‘How many of you believe we should undertake severe economic sacrifices for controlling greenhouses [gases]?’

       " That is to say heat trapping gases emitted from the combustion of fuels.

 

Both quotations express sentiments, I would argue are historically recent and not as profound as the Ahimsa sentiments. That said the question becomes: "Can a nation of 1 billion people (or more) deal with the energy, water, and land-use demands in a manner that is fair and "unharmful" to large numbers of participating (affected) people?

 

I think Gadgill and Guha present evidence that expressions ideals fall short of the consequences of practice.


F.   Findings of facts:

            1. technology of water treatment"  … In the available technology lies the rub.

            2. To water supply engineers the hydrologic system as a whole is outside their domain                                    and they are not immediately concerned with its problems.

            3. Farmers, " interest is in the productivity of their fields." / concerned with the fields,     not the river basin.

                        Contemporary India:

                                    land distribution and recording title

                                    status of women

                                    security in old age and infirmity

                                    population growth

                                                fractured knowledge

                                                frayed implementation

                                                fragmented responsibilities

                                    Quis custodiet problem (oversight)

                                    Agency capture

                                    mobilizing public support; NGO roles

                                                Courts

                                                implementation

                                                application to alleviate harm

 

G. Goal = LAW: protecting land, air & water are inseparable from harmless improvement            

 

Luna B. Leopold on water and "ethos" (the initial quote) "ETHOS, EQUITY AND THE WATER RESOURCE" (1990)

Luna B. Leopold University of California, Berkeley

 

"A preliminary declaration of sustainability ethics: making peace with the ultimate bio-executioner" [May 26, 2003] ETHICS IN SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS

John Cairns, Jr. Department of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA Is the source of the second quote.

 

Aldo Leopold, "an extension of ethics to ever wider circles of human communities." Articulated in 1948 in his essay on the "Land Ethic"

 

Dietmar Rothermund, India: the rise of an Asian Giant. New Haven, Yale University press, 2008.

 

http://myweb.rollins.edu/jsiry/India.html

 

http://myweb.rollins.edu/jsiry/Inter-Environ-Law-Talk_Parameters.html

  

 

 Ahimsa

 

Description: Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:hy:h3zz330j1pv2_h2rn497jb2h0000gq:T:TemporaryItems:ahimsa.jpg The scriptures define ahimsa as the true sacrifice, forgiveness, power, and strength. At its core, ahimsa is based on the intentions of a person whose focus is to not harm anyone. Ahimsa was also the name of the wife of Dharma as mentioned in the Vişņu Purāņa

.

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word derived from the root hims, meaning to strike. Himsa means injury or harm. Literally translated, a-himsa means the opposite of himsa or non-injury or non-violence. The scriptures extol the virtues of Ahimsa and consider it an essential tenet of and guide for personal behavior. However, violence for the purpose of defending Dharma is equally essential and this violence is also considered to be ahimsa.

. . . .

To approve of another's harsh actions is indirect violence. To fail to relieve another's pain, or even to neglect to go to the person in distress is a sort of violence[1]. Violence by exclusion would also be himsa since you would be hurting some one's feelings by neglecting them or to deliberately exclude them from your interaction.

http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Ahimsa

"Living without (direct or indirect) violence to others."

http://www.ahimsainternational.org/

 

Ecological Ethics.

 

Aldo Leopold, "an extension of ethics to ever wider circles of human communities." Articulated in 1948 in his essay on the "Land Ethic"

http://myweb.rollins.edu/jsiry/ethical.html

 

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