The Ethics of Environmentalism

By: John A. Lanier

If you wish everyone would compost their food waste to help mitigate climate change, then you should compost. If you wish everyone would refuse plastic straws to help keep them out of the oceans, then you should refuse plastic straws.

I just binged the heck out of The Good Place (thanks for the recommendation Whitney!). It’s an NBC comedy starring Kristen Bell, with the plot centered on four humans who have died and are now experiencing the afterlife. As the name implies, there is a “good place” and a “bad place,” roughly heaven and hell by common understanding, but without any adherence to a particular faith tradition. Much of the comedy is situational, but there is a detailed (if winding) plot with solid character development. I enjoyed it for multiple reasons, and the finale even twanged a few of my heart strings.

For my purposes here though, I want to touch on the constant refrain of ethics and moral philosophy throughout the show. Much like The Big Bang Theory takes highly complex scientific principles and bakes them into 22 minutes of showtime, The Good Place does the same with highly complex ethical theory. For instance, the show explores concepts like the ethics of lying and moral relativism. Such topics are highly appealing to your friendly neighborhood nerd on this side of the keyboard!

One of the four main characters in the show is Chidi Anagonye, an ethics professor during his life on earth. He is passionately dedicated to doing what is right, but his fatal flaw is his analytical paralysis that shows up any time it isn’t clear what “right” is. In short, the dude struggles with decision-making. Much of this personality trait stems from his strict adherence to the teachings of one particular philosopher – Immanuel Kant.

Continue Reading

Brightening Our Corner Newsletter - February 2021

Quarterly Newsletter of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation

The Foundation has just published its quarterly newsletter. Ray Anderson always said, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are."

Read More

Climate & Change: Georgia's Climate Solutions

An Introduction to Drawdown Georgia

Tuesday, February 23rd, join Laura Flusche, executive director of Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), in conversation with Drawdown Georgia founding member John Lanier about how our state can--and IS--making a difference on climate change.

Read More

From butterfly wings to shrimp claws: Mimicking nature on the nanoscale

Innovators look to biomimicry to address sustainability challenges. Can they harness green chemistry to get it right?

Read More

Georgia DOT, UGA and The Ray Break Ground on Latest Meadow-Research Installation

Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT), The Ray and the University of Georgia’s College of Environment + Design (UGA CED) are pleased to announce Phase 2 of their meadow-research plantings on The Ray Highway, at the Exit 6 median alongside I-85’s northbound lanes. The purpose of the research is to establish innovative uses that beautify and improve the utilization of Georgia’s highway corridor.

Read More
Read more articles