1.2 Ethics of resources

When a value is given to nature only in relation to humans, we talk about ethics of resources. Of course the ethics of resources is environmental ethics only in a narrower sense; nevertheless it always remains a part of every broader definition of environmental ethics. The ethics of resources places humans in the centre of its interests by scrutinising aspects of the handling of scarce, exhaustible raw materials and environmental media such as water, soil and air. Special ethical considerations are focused on renewable biotic resources such as forests and fishing resources. Questions about a dangerous change in the earth’s climate also belong to the field of resource ethics. Not least, agricultural ethics belongs to this form of environmental ethics and particularly engages in questions of changes to soil and landscape. Grave environmental damage is caused especially by the agricultural utilisation of the environment.

Resource ethics asks how we can use the raw materials and environmental media (such as water and soil) provided by nature without causing irreversible damage (over-exploitation or environmental pollution). Such ethics can be justified solely for anthropocentric reasons, that is, by the interests of people.