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Obligations to Future Generations - Essay Example

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This is not to suggest that the conveniences and luxury are evenly distributed around the globe or even within nations and communities. There is a vast difference between the wealth of nations in the developing world and that of a superpower such as the United States or the European Union. What is undeniable is that all of humanity have benefited directly or indirectly through improvements in transportation and technology. The advancements in technology are truly marvelous, but they are not without drawbacks. There is a real cost attached to every advancement made in transportation and technology over the past two centuries (Lash, Szerszynski and Wynne, 1996). Finite resources are often used for raw materials that construct the technology or provide fuel for the machine energy. The consumption of these finite resources raises several sets of related ethical questions. Economists and economic geographers often examine questions of consumption, distribution and utilization. These academics attempt to explain why some nations are poor while others are wealthy. The answer often has access and control over finite resources at its heart. While understanding and examining the ethical considerations of unequal distribution and utilization of finite natural resources is a valid topic, it is beyond the scope of this paper. Consumption by the current and prior generation and the implications for future generations is the concern for this paper. Ethical use of natural resources now can lead to a brighter future, full of opportunity, for the generations of the future. Unethical behavior may doom future generations to a less prosperous and comfortable existence than we currently enjoy. The ethical choices that need to be made should consider effects on generations to come instead of just immediate gains in productivity, convenience and technological advance. One example of how difficult it can be to act ethically when making decisions concerning environmental and industrial projects can be seen in the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The Nile River has experienced seasonal flooding for thousands of years. Monsoon induced rainy seasons at the headwaters result in flooding in Upper and Lower Egypt. In ancient times, these seasonal floods marked the seasons in Egypt. The floods were beneficial in that they provided a layer of fresh silt for farmers to utilize each year while providing much needed irrigation water in Egypt’s arid climate. There was no need for fertilizer because the soil never had the chance to be depleted of essential nutrients. The culture of the ancient Egyptians was closely tied to the flooding of the Nile. They were able to establish a civilization that brought us splendors such as the temple at Karnack and the Pyramids at Giza. In the 1950’s the Egyptian government determined that the seasonal flooding of the Nile was detrimental to Egypt’s quest for modernization. Many Egyptians were still farming small plots that were irrigated using simple machines and techniques that had not changed for millennia. The modernization of the state of Egypt required modern infrastructure and modern power. Plans were made to place a dam across the Nile River that would provide a vast amount of hydroelectricity for the Egyptian people and modern Egyptian industries. In addition to this, the natural flooding of the river would be replaced by an ...Show more
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Summary

Modern industrialized economies have provided and unprecedented level of luxury and convenience for humanity. We can travel around the world in a matter of hours or send a text to a neighboring continent in a matter or seconds. Much of the world now enjoys a wide variety of labor saving machines that clean clothes, wash dished and cook food while we watch TV or surf the internet…
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