Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 1863-5415 / 1611-8014
Published by: Inter-Research Science Center (10.3354)
Total articles ≅ 196
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Latest articles in this journal

, M Henneberg
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 21, pp 25-30;

Over the last 20 yr, neurosurgical robots have been increasingly assisting in neurosurgical procedures. Surgical robots are considered to have noticeable advantages over humans, such as reduction of procedure time, surgical dexterity, no experience of fatigue and improved healthcare outcomes. In recent years, neurosurgical robots have been developed to perform various procedures. Public demand is informing the direction of neurosurgery and placing greater pressure on neurosurgeons to use neurosurgical robots. The increasing diversity and sophistication of neurosurgical robots have received ethical scrutiny due to the surgical complications that may arise as well as the role of robots in the future. In this paper, we address 3 ethical areas regarding neurosurgical robots: (1) Loss of neurosurgical skills due to increasing dependency on robots; (2) How far do we want to go with neurosurgical robots? (3) Neurosurgical robots and conflict of interest and medical bias.
N Dehouche
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 21, pp 17-23;

As if 2020 was not a peculiar enough year, its fifth month saw the relatively quiet publication of a preprint describing the most powerful natural language processing (NLP) system to date—GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer-3)—created by the Silicon Valley research firm OpenAI. Though the software implementation of GPT-3 is still in its initial beta release phase, and its full capabilities are still unknown as of the time of this writing, it has been shown that this artificial intelligence can comprehend prompts in natural language, on virtually any topic, and generate relevant original text content that is indistinguishable from human writing. Moreover, access to these capabilities, in a limited yet worrisome enough extent, is available to the general public. This paper presents examples of original content generated by the author using GPT-3. These examples illustrate some of the capabilities of GPT-3 in comprehending prompts in natural language and generating convincing content in response. I use these examples to raise specific fundamental questions pertaining to the intellectual property of this content and the potential use of GPT-3 to facilitate plagiarism. The goal is to instigate a sense of urgency, as well as a sense of present tardiness on the part of the academic community in addressing these questions.
Hm Silva
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 21, pp 11-15;

Recent forest fires in Brazil and Australia have been the subject of irrational discussions on social networks without any legitimate scientific basis. These discussions often overlook or ignore fundamental questions about how limited government reactions, especially from the Brazilian government, to climate change affect these disasters. This article seeks to foster a discussion supported by data about climate change, the consequences of increased frequency of catastrophic weather events, and ways in which aggressiveness and ignorance via the internet and social networks do nothing to address the underlying issues.
, C Elliff, Jg Fonseca, Fr Gell, C Serra-Gonçalves, Nk Helder, K Murray, H Peckham, L Prelovec, K Sink
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 21, pp 1-9;

Engagement in marine science has historically been the privilege of a small number of people with access to higher education, specialised equipment and research funding. Such constraints have often limited public engagement and may have slowed the uptake of ocean science into environmental policy. Recognition of this disconnect has spurred a growing movement to promote ocean literacy, defined as one’s individual understanding of how the ocean affects people and how people affect the ocean. Over the last 2 decades, this concept has gained significant traction in marine biology and environmental education circles and now plays a prominent role in the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). Here, we argue that the ocean literacy agenda has largely been shaped and discussed by marine scientists and educators but needs to be expanded to a much larger constituency to be more effective, accessible and inclusive. We discuss diverse cultural settings from around the world and provide examples of indigenous, spiritual, art, ocean user and other groups that are already deeply engaged with the ocean and could provide a variety of perspectives to enrich the ocean literacy concept beyond an understanding of marine science. We suggest that such inclusiveness could remove the historic barriers that have surrounded the field, transform our collective awareness of and relationship with the ocean and help support ongoing efforts to restore marine biodiversity.
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 20, pp 41-55;

The 2019-2020 pandemic of the SARS-CoV-2 virus—the cause of the novel COVID-19 disease—is an exceptional moment in modern human history. The abrupt and intense cessation of human activities in the first months of the pandemic, when large parts of the global human population were in lockdown, had noticeable effects on the environment that can serve to identify key learning experiences to foster a deep reflection on the human relationship with nature, and their interdependence. There are precious lessons to be learned. A global, tangible threat was needed to trigger a global lockdown, where different societies adopted different strategies and management measures to adapt or transform their activities. Humanity is still coming to terms with how to relaunch the economy while preventing further outbreaks. Here, I summarize the immediate positive and negative effects that the pandemic has had on the natural environment, with emphasis on marine ecosystems. I reflect on key lessons learned from this unprecedented situation so far. The essential role that the oceans play in maintaining the functioning of natural systems and key socio-economic activities is exceptionally relevant, and I discuss key not-to-miss opportunities to add the ‘Blue Recovery’ to the international agenda under the new ‘Build Back Better’ or ‘Healthy Recovery’ context after the acute phase of COVID-19. Achieving sustainable use of the ocean is one of the grand challenges of the new decade, and marine ecologists must play a more proactive role.
B Würsig
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 20, pp 25-32;

Long-term studies of whales, dolphins, and porpoises (the cetaceans) in nature abruptly began about 50 yr ago, preceded by several decades of terrestrial animal studies, often of charismatic large mammals. Fifty years ago, intensive whaling was still occurring, and arguments against whaling largely centered around impending extinctions due to over-hunting, not the idea that cetaceans should not be killed due to natural or inherent goodness. In the 1970s, several USA and other government agencies promulgated rules to help control pollution and other insults to nature, often effective in the short term but not in stopping an overall decline in the health of nature. While there appeared a general societal awakening towards greater appreciation of nature and intrinsic animal rights, researchers largely stayed focused on their research, with little attention to using knowledge to increase ecosystem and animal health. Attitudes of direct scientific involvement in calling for environmental action have changed, as it is becoming increasingly (but not universally) appreciated that researchers who know the problems are well-suited to alert governments, industry, and society to them, and loudly call for action. I have no good answers for how to accomplish large-scale rapid reversals of environmental declines. One laudable action is to be an active vocal part of appropriate web-based conservation advocacy groups. Involving the young of all genders and races for a groundswell of support is likely most effective in generating a new world view of so much respect for nature that we radically alter our present ways of subjugating and diminishing it in the name of supposed human progress. Above all, we scientists must no longer dither with opinions on environmental problems and urgent needs for action; we must proclaim them intelligently, forcefully, and as broadly as possible.
G Notarbartolo Di Sciara, E Hoyt
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 20, pp 15-23;

Important marine mammal areas (IMMAs)—‘discrete habitat areas, important for one or more marine mammal species, that have the potential to be delineated and managed for conservation’ (IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force 2018, p. 3)—were introduced in 2014 by the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force to support marine mammal and wider ocean conservation. IMMAs provide decision-makers with a user-friendly, actionable tool to inform them of the whereabouts of habitat important for marine mammal survival. However, in view of their non-prescriptive, evidence-based and biocentric nature, the conservation effectiveness of IMMAs is strictly dependent on politicians’ willingness to make use of them. It has been the customary task of advocacy non-governmental organisations to lobby decision-makers to stimulate respect for environmental law, but the scientific community is increasingly joining this effort. Scientists can effectively strengthen a healthy relationship between scientific objectivity and political advocacy without damaging the credibility of conservation science. Thus, those undertaking the identification of IMMAs can be among those responsible for strongly advocating the implementation of IMMAs and other conservation initiatives.
Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Volume 20, pp 1-13;

Humanity’s self-ordained mandate to subdue and dominate nature is part of the cognitive foundation of the modern world—a perspective that remains deeply ingrained in science and technology. Marine biology has not been immune to this anthropocentric bias. But this needs to change, and the gaps between basic scientific disciplines and the global conservation imperatives of our time need to be bridged. In the face of a looming ecological and climate crisis, marine biologists must upgrade their values and professional standards and help foster the radical transformation needed to avert a climate and ecological breakdown. To prevent some of the damage, they must cross the imaginary line that separates science from science-based activism and consciously pursue the health and durability of human and natural communities. To this end, they can (1) develop compelling narratives that engage human society, with emphasis on care for the wild living world; (2) move beyond marine conservation on paper and avoid self-serving complaisance; (3) advocate constructive changes in market and human behaviour, not only by documenting damage but also by clarifying how the extraction, production and consumption system can be steered away from practices that harm nature; (4) push for systemic change in politics through individual and collective efforts, supporting environmental activism and those who demand biosphere-saving policies; and (5) endorse a more ecocentric and holistic world vision, relinquishing contempt for spiritual wisdom and liaising with (or at least not dismissing) spiritual traditions that encourage equality, self-restraint and environmental sustainability.
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