Back when I was five years old, I witnessed a boy ripping legs off of many grasshoppers. The images still haunt me to this day. Luckily, the young boy was reprimanded for his poor actions. Similar to the actions of this child, the world continues to unconsciously mistreat non-human animals, insects and plants in the surrounding environment. Our ability as humans to think about our actions is what sets us apart from the rest of the natural world…We are responsible to care for those who are unable to determine the difference between morally right and morally wrong actions; those who would be considered moral patients. I believe that all moral agents ought to consider the intrinsic value— the value that that thing has in and of itself— of all moral patients, or in other words, all humans have an obligation to consider all non-human animals and plants, because they all have and share some intrinsic values and interests… Now if I had to choose between saving a human or an animal in trouble, I would probably choose the human. Why? There is a hierarchy of value between humans, non-human animals, and plants. Humans have more value than non-human animals because of their ability to think rationally. While non-human animals may have lower value than humans, they have more value than plants because they are sentient beings—they are able to perceive or feel things. This does not mean that one should go pluck petals off of a flower, or break the branches off of a tree; it just means that, when possible, we should go out of our way to protect and respect the environment. “If it is reasonable to think that plants’ lives have intrinsic value, then it is not irrational to feel bad or guilty about killing a plant” (Varner 356); however, it is “good to save the life of plants and non-conscious animals when we can” (Varner 367) … If everyone shared this mindset, we may be able to reverse the effects of the present ecological crisis known as climate change… Human greed and negligence has led to climate change.
We live in a one-sided relationship that controls, manipulates, and destroys the environment to feed our consumption habits. We see the, “earth as a machine and act as its engineers” (Klein). We ignorantly extract every resource that we possibly can to use for our own benefit. This way of thinking has evolved from the notion that humans have a duty to dominate the Earth to its entirety. This dominion has paved the way for climate change to take place. It is reckless to think that we can fight this long-term problem with a short-term solution. In order to mitigate the effects of climate change, we need to limit our consumption habits and seek a more sustainable way of life. We need to be vigilant at preserving the Earth for future generations and promote the flourishing of plants and non-human animals for their sakes as well as ours.
My name is Kayla Kassa. I am from Sandpoint Idaho. I am expecting to graduate May 2017 with a major in Civil Engineering degree and plan to continue my education and get a Master’s of Science in Civil Engineering emphasizing in water resources. I want to pursue an engineering career that works with the environment, rather than against it as well as continuously reflecting on how my actions impact the environment.