As an urban planner, I am employed to be part of a project focusing on development and community consultation in the Western Sydney Priority Growth Area. Western Sydney Airport and more infrastructures are the key part of this project which aims at improving the productivity of Western Sydney’s economy by way of creating job opportunities as well as promoting scientific, educational, retail, medical and defense sectors.
Residents of the surrounding local area, however, point out that an airport operational 24/7 will negatively impact on them, and their main areas of concern are probable environmental harm on local animal populations and the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in addition to the impact on the welfare of local communities residents. This project, therefore, presents an ethical dilemma where a balance has to be achieved between preservation of the local environment and economic development. Ethical theories can be applied in this case study so as to strike a balance.
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Two of these theories include Kant?’s duty ethics and Care Ethics. While pursuing economic development projects, the governments along with the developmental companies have social responsibilities. This social responsibility concentrates on an individual as well as the corporation’s moral obligation to carry out their duties for the benefit of the entire society so as to maintain and accomplish the balance between the economy of a country and the environment (Shiyuan, 2013).
Projects leaders ought to understand that they should work together as part of the society and realize that their actions will impact on the whole. Traditional culture in many countries emphasizes on the significance of collective interests to attain harmony in the society. Many developmental companies are rewarded for the economic prosperity in their specific region, and this reward system does not include environmental components.
This gives room for loopholes in monitoring and regulating environmental violations, and as such, manufacturing and similar industries have been involved in the pollution of air, land, and water. These companies pursue economic growth at the expense of environmental preservation, which damages the equilibrium of ecosystem as well as the economy (Shiyuan, 2013). T
his is an indication of the ethical challenges facing developmental companies along with the government. In the particular case of Western Sydney Airport, the intended development in infrastructure will undoubtedly boost the economy and benefit the local members of the community. The draft enterprise investment scheme (EIS) gives five reasons why this Western Sydney Airport is required and as such necessary for residents to cope with.
These include an increase in population in Western Sydney, who need transport, an increase in passengers using aviation over the past two decades, demand pressure upon existing infrastructure at Kingsford Smith Airport, a boost to the economy Sydney/ NSW/Australia through tourism and provision of much needed employment opportunities for the residents of Western Sydney (Mountain Conservation Society INC submission to draft EIS 2015). Given the goals of the proposed development of the Western Sydney Airport, the project appears viable with respect to improvement of the Sydney’s and to an extent the Australian’s economy.
By providing employment to the unemployed people in Western Sydney, catering for their transport needs and boosting local tourism, the intended infrastructural development promises to impact positively on their transport as well as financial needs. If the project on Western Sydney Airport and more infrastructures are completed, it will certainly offer economic gains to the people of Sydney. On the other hand, there are environmental challenges that proposed project poses in the Western Sydney region. The spacious and open character of the landscape, on which the airport is to built, is considered innately pleasant, with individual views of great attractiveness, particularly a background of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Additionally, the entire area derives visual interest from groves of trees, farm animals, and reflective dams (some of which are almost the size of small lakes) (Mountain Conservation Society INC submission to draft EIS 2015). This region has farms that are productive in, for instance, fruits, vegetable and dairy which are responsible for the pleasing countryside features of the districts. As a matter of this one among few regions east of the Divide where Western Sydney individuals can comfortably take pleasure in rural views as well as show their children real cows, horses, sheep and so on.
If the intended airport is built here, it is uncertain how many these arable areas would be feasible, given that the animals would be subjected to similar stresses from the extreme noise as people, and the fresh produce would as well be contaminated by the air pollution from both ground and air traffic (Mountain Conservation Society INC submission to draft EIS 2015). This whole rural landscape could be irreversibly degraded as well as denatured by continuous reminders of the presence of the airport. Due to the proposed curfew-less airport, it is painstakingly unfair that Western Sydney residents should have to bear the consequences of impaired educational and health results as well as reduced quality of life for the sake of developmental undertakings. In addition, an airport would bring about noise and light pollution both from sky glow and from local light sources which affect local students. This project, therefore, presents various risks especially to the environment which can, in turn, endanger and or cause inconvenience to local residents in Western Sydney.
The Government of Australia is charged with the duty of care to make sure that there is no compromise on safety and that the risk is thoroughly assessed. Under Australian Civil Aviation safety Legislation, which is established to make sure international obligations are adhered to, and the ICAO (International Aviation safety standards), Australia has obligations to ensure that safety to citizens is guaranteed. Safety is paramount and should not be compromised at any stage hence all legislative requirements ought to be adhered to (Young & Nean 2016). From the analysis of proposed airport’s economic benefits and the environmental challenges, it is clear that the project poses a dilemma because, in as much as it economically boosts the life of Western Sydney residents, it causes harm to their health as well as disrupts the daily lives. Ethical theories are applied in such scenarios which pose dilemmas in order to strike a balance. In this regard, Care Ethics and Kant’s duty ethics can be applied in the Birds or Boeings case study.
Ethics of care denotes approaches to society and moral life that are based on knowledge, practices and virtues related to proper caretaking and caring for others as well as self. Care ethics, unlike other ethical theories, draw attention to the affective aspects of morality, the certainty of interdependence and dependence, the significance of healthy attachments and caretaking in the basic foundation of human welfare, and the contextual as well as relational nature of any ethical consideration. Philosopher Virginia Held opines that morality ought to look into issues of empathy and caring in addition to relationships between individuals as opposed to just or mainly the rational decisions of single moral agents.
Proponents of care ethics focus on realms of caring such as friendship community membership and good parenting as connections that promote social cooperation, human development and the basic fabric of all ethos and morality. For environmental ethics, ethics of care can be a compelling foundation and the general importance of care ethics for environmentalism as well as economic development is considerable. Ethical theories founded care are capable recognizing the relevance of caring for all kind of others, in addition to the complicated value of ecological interdependences along with the restrictions of worldviews that disallow dependence on nature (Laugier 2015). Specific ethical issues, such as those that arise as a result of building Western Sydney Airport, and opportunities for development can both be informed by perspectives of the care ethics.
Actions and policies employed in the course of the project ought to demonstrate appropriate care for the resident of Western Sydney. Ethics on environment mostly focus on the need for improved or increased caring in the form of moral regard for ecological systems and nonhuman others, and failure in such regard is usually considered as a basic cause of environmental destruction and damage. Ethics of care raise queries on canonical ideas of nature as inert or passive and express epistemologies as well as anticolonial ethics based on the wisdom of practices and traditions that are relationship-centered (Laugier 2015). This means that as much as building an airport is of much economic value, the environmental risks posed by the project must be considered given that ethics of care stress on a caring relationship between developers and local residents.
These Western Sydney locals are of the view that they will be negatively impacted by an airport operational 24/7 hence the need for the project contractors to take care of their concerns. The weakness of the ethics of care theory is the emotions are hard to define and or quantify. Thus an emotional approach may result in conflicting concerns given that emotion on certain issues such environmental challenges can vary.
While some residents in Western Sydney may care about the animal populations, others may not feel the same towards them or may not care if they exist or not. In solving the dilemma between economic development and environmental protection, ethics of care ought to be considered as a framework for guiding decision making. Emotional caring, that includes care for generations to come, should motivate appropriate environmental action even as governments and development companies pursue economic growth. Ethical-caring should be viewed as a knowledge-producing as well as informed response looking into potential environmental risks that can result from the intended Western Sydney Airport. Kant’s duty ethics focuses an individual moral responsibility.
The principle behind this theory is duty to the moral law. The basic emphasis is the individual and it is about moral development of the individual. The implication of this perception is that the main focus of morality is not the welfare of others, but how an individual reacts to the interest of others. In coming up with an ethic of the environment, the general implication of interpreting Kant’s ethical theory is that people should live up to the dignity of their humanity, which signifies that people should develop feelings of sympathy and compassion for conscious beings as well as their awareness and appreciation of natural beauty (Vaughn 2015). This duty ethics most likely applies to the individual charged with developmental infrastructure in Western Sydney. While their goal of economically improving this region is a noble one, they ought to feel duty towards others in the area and this means putting the environmental concerns into consideration. By so doing the developers will have lived up to the dignity of their humanity and heeded their call of duty.
The understanding of duty ethics is both significant and useful with respect to the weakness of the theory as regards morally appropriate treatment of inanimate nature as well as animals themselves. The explicit of Kant is that moral agents cannot have direct responsibilities to non-moral agents and that any duties we feel towards them are in fact duties to humankind. For Kant, it is not the animal population that morally matter despite the fact that he urges to avoid indifference and callousness toward animals (Vaughn 2015). This weakness of the theory may not augur well with local residents if applied to address environmental challenges in Western Sydney since harm on the animal population is one of the people’s major concerns for a 24/7 operating airport, as important as the airport project may be economically.
The duty ethics by Kant can be applied to solve dilemma between economic prosperity and the preservation of the environment in Western Sydney where duty to what is morally acceptable to the local residents is placed at the center of every decision made with respect to infrastructural development in the area. In conclusion, Both Kant’s duty ethics and Care Ethics can be used to provide workable and ethical solution the dilemma between economic development and the protection of the environment, especially with regards to the Western Sydney region. In as much as the local residents deserve a better infrastructural development, they as well have concerns about the impact on the environment and local animal population of an airport operational 24/7.
As discussed ethics of care promote social cooperation, human development and the basic fabric of all ethos and morality while Kant’s duty ethics focus on call of duty to what is morally acceptable. Taking the two contributions from the two, it is clear that continuing to build the Western Sydney Airport will neither demonstrate care for the residents nor will it show adherence to the moral duty on the part of the developers and the government. As such, an ethical solution will be to consider an alternative project. This alternative can include a high-speed rail which moves large groups of people to their destinations with zero emissions. This can prove to be an alternative that meets the economic needs of the local residents as well as ensures the environment is preserved.
Hugman, R., 2014. Professionalizing Care A Necessary Irony? Some Implications of the Ethics of Care for the Caring Professions and Informal Caring. In? Care Professions and Globalization? (pp. 173-193). Palgrave Macmillan US.
Laugier, S., 2015. Care, the Environment, and Global Ethics.? Cahiers du Genre, (2), pp.127-152.Mountain Conservation Society INC submission to draft EIS, 2015: http://www.bluemountains.org.au/documents/submissions/BMCS_WSA_Draft_EIS_Sub mission.pdf
Shiyuan, J. 2013. Social Responsibility and the Environment: An Ethical Challenge for U.S.- China Relations. Global Ethics Network.
Vaughn, L., 2015.? Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues. WW Norton & Company.
Young, T. and Nean, S., 2016. Aviation law: Rise of the drones: Liability remains sky high for Australian business.? Proctor, The,? 36(6), p.14.
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