- Darryl Macer, Ph.D.
Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba Science City, 305, JAPAN
Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter 2 (1992), 43, 46.
Kyoto Conference on Environmental Ethics and Bioethics, the 6th International Bioethics Symposium, 31 May.
A one day conference with the themes of environmental ethics and bioethics was held in Kyoto, with speakers from Japan and overseas. It turned out to be a very varied mixture of papers, and it was clear that some people did not view bioethics as including environmental ethics, but only think of the word as medical ethics. This is a very anthropocentric use of the word, bioethics, or life ethics, and people must return to the root of the word bioethics to grasp its broad meaning.
There were papers by Kazumasa Hoshino, the organiser, by Henk Rigter of the Netherlands, Lester Grant of the EPA in the USA, and Baruch Brody of Texas, USA, plus several papers by Japanese speakers. The talks were interesting, but varied. It is however, important that environmental ethics was discussed, because at bioethics conferences in Japan (and in some other countries), medical ethics is monopolising the word bioethics, as well as our attention. Ethics must study all human interactions, not just the ethics of medicine, but other issues also. Current Japanese ethics is very business or market oriented, yet despite this we still hear some reports of a high respect for nature in Japan. You only need to come here to see that it is not so. I will leave discussion of this issue for later newsletters, and for the paper on the Rio conference that preceded this.
On pp. 54-55, is the paper "Why Rio failed", by Helmar Krupp (Former visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, and has now returned to Karlsruhe, Germany, and he is author of Energy Politics and Schumpeter Dynamics: Japan's policy between short-term wealth and long term welfare (Springer-Verlag 1992).
The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro in June. However, it has proven to be a failure by the following criteria: It was unable to take substantial steps to stop global warming, keep the present rate of species extinction constant or even decrease it, discontinue using surface waters, that is oceans, lakes and rivers, as global sewage systems, reduce the great number and variety of man-made toxic substances in our general environment, including food, reverse the growth of the drastic global discrepancies of income distribution and resource exploitation, and so on. (The paper is not on-line).