Nature, Life and Water Ethics

- Darryl R.J. Macer and Masaru Morita
Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba Science City, 305, Japan
E-mail: Macer@sakura.cc.tsukuba.ac.jp
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 (2002), 82-88.
Bioethics and Water

Bioethics, or biological ethics, looks at ethical decisions we make concerned with life, and in simple terms it could be called love of life. Considering that life is dependent upon water, and living organisms are made of up to 90% water, could we say bioethics is also love of water? (Macer, 1994a). This paper looks at the relationships people have to water based on the results of a survey conducted in ten countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

Bioethics is both a word and a concept. The word comes to us only from 1970, yet the concept comes from human heritage thousands of years old. It is the concept of love, balancing benefits and risks of choices and decisions. This heritage can be seen in all cultures, religions, and in ancient writings from around the world (Macer, 1998a). We in fact cannot trace the origin of bioethics back to their beginning, as the relationships between human beings and other members of our biological community, components of the planet like water, and God, are formed at an earlier stage then our history records. The history of bioethical reasoning is influenced by our genes, and the forces that shaped these genes into the organisms, society and cultures that we have. We now have the power to change not only our own genes, but the genes of every organism, and the power to remodel whole ecosystems of the planet.

There are three ways to think of the term bioethics, one is as descriptive bioethics - the way people view life and their moral interactions and responsibilities with living organisms in life. It would ask what is common sense? It includes describing relationships between different organisms. Another is as discourse or interactive bioethics, the debate over the principles of bioethics and between persons of different views or with different interests. The other is prescriptive bioethics - to tell others what is good or bad, what principles are most important; or to say something/someone has rights and therefore others have duties to them. All these concepts have much older roots, which we can trace in religions and cultural patterns that may share some universal ideals (Macer, 1994b, 1998a).

Some academics have tried to define what bioethics is, what are the basic principles, and how we should apply these to our lives. The term bioethics should mean the study of life ethics, but it has often been viewed only as a part. Ecological and environmental ethics must include human-human interactions, as these interactions are one of the dominant ecological interactions in the world. To make good choices, and choices that we can live with, are key issues of ethics. The growth of agriculture in the past 8,000 years, including in parts of the world with limited water like the Middle East, suggests that water ethics was one of the first types of ethical questions humans had to face.

Survey analysis

One way to examine the reasoning people have is to ask them in surveys of opinion. Scholars may go through literature, and historical studies, but often these studies are selected by their choices, rather than the peoples of the culture or tradition that they claim to speak on behalf of. We need to look at more than history, and more than policies that governments have developed, we need to reach into the hearts of people. In 1993 the International Bioethics Survey was performed across ten countries of the world, including Australia (A), Hong Kong (HK), India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand (NZ), The Philippines (Phil), Russia, Singapore (Sing) and Thailand (Thai). The purpose was to look at how people think about diseases, life, nature, and selected issues of science and technology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, genetic screening, and gene therapy. In total nearly 6000 questionnaires were returned from 10 countries during 1993, and the results are reported in the book Bioethics for the People by the People (Macer, 1994b). People made very interesting comments, and included both public and university biology or medical student samples (denoted by the suffix "s" in the Tables). The diversity of comments was found to be the same in different countries, suggesting that reasoning about these issues goes deeper than cultures, or religions.

An analysis of comments made by respondents to the International Bioethics Survey in response to two open questions on images of nature and images of life is described here. The open questions were designed not to be leading, to look at how people make decisions - and the ideas in each comment were assigned to different categories depending on the question, and these categories were compared among all the samples. The proportion of the total comments that included water ranged from 31-40% (average 35%) in images of nature and 2-8% (average 4.4%) in images of life.

Water was one of the common themes seen in the comments and pictures of nature, but not in comments about life. These scenes of nature often featured rivers and ocean sunsets, with ponds containing birds, fish and other animals. In order to analyze the comments systematically all comments were read and a file made including all comments including water. Categories were made to examine relationships to water, and the examples of water, and keywords were chosen. Then all the data put into a data file using Statview software on MacIntosh.

Results and Categorization

In all samples one third of the respondents mentioned water when thinking about nature, with little variation (31-40%, Table 1). There was significantly less mention of an example of water in the images of Life, ranging from 2-8% (Table 2). For comparison, in an analysis of comments about animals in response to these questions, they ranged from 12-56% for nature, and from 5-28% for life (Macer, 1998b). Among other items included in comments on nature, forests ranged from 3-19%, and other living organisms from 3-14% (Macer, 1994b). This is consistent with the experience of water in all cultures, and that water comes into many people's mind regardless of culture and despite differences in the use of water between and within these countries.

Among the comments including water, 39% of the nature comments included a picture and 36% of the life comments, and in all samples this proportion is higher than the general for answers. If we draw a picture about nature or life we often include some water element in the picture. The proportion of each comment that actually referred to water was not so great and a simple division found half of the comments with only 1/5th or less of the total comment mentioning water for both nature, and life (Table 1, 2).

Some comments included several words related to water, and up to 6 separate ideas or examples were listed for any one respondent. However in nature comments 67% had only one idea and in life comments 87% only had one idea (Table 1, 2).

Each different example, for example river and streams, was only scored once, as rivers (Table 3, 5), for one respondent but up to 2 relationships could be scored (Table 4, 6). The examples that were listed (with the frequency as % of total comments about water in nature, and life respectively) were: rivers (44%. 14%), oceans (32%, 31%), "water" (20%, 29%), lakes (14%, 11%), weather (10%, 11%), clouds (11%, 8%), waterfalls (5%, 3%), snow (2%, 0%), and rainforest (2%, 1%). There was individual country variation as shown in Table 3 and 5, and as will be discussed below.

Similarly, the relationships expressed were also categorized, and some examples that illustrate the process of categorization are given below following the discussion of the results (The numbers refer to the sample number, and the abbreviation PIC refers to a picture that was drawn with the contents of the picture in the (brackets) following the PIC.). Up to two relationships were given for each example, and the total in the table is the total number of relationships expressed for all examples by the respondents (Table 4, 6).

"Clean" was a phrase used by 12% of persons in the Nature comments and 6% in the Life comments. It often related to an ideal image rather than reality, and in the Philippines 38% mentioned clean in images of Nature, and 33% in the Life comments. This is significantly more than in other countries, with New Zealand being the second most frequent. For example:

P7 Waterfalls, green leaves, thick vast forests, wild animals, fresh water, clean air, clean rivers, seas, lakes. (Nature)

P48 The first thing that comes to my mind is a beautiful mountain with lots of animals and vegetation; cool air and unpolluted surroundings which you can hear the birds singing and watch your reflections in a clean stream water. (Nature)

A176 Clean, fresh air and water. Away from factories and huge masses of people e.g. Sydney. Wild life. Not overproducing of livestock and agriculture - first improve growth - then destroy because too much - just causes more waste and destruction of environment. Work for everybody. (Life)

Israel23 Nature is trees, clean air, animals, clean blue water, mountains, white snow, spring, summer, autumn, winter, colourful flowers, green grass. (Nature)

"Polluted" refers to the presence of pollution, and was mentioned by 4% of persons in the Nature comments and 1% in Life comments. For example:

NZ81 Unpolluted rivers, Native forest, Beautiful clean beaches, nature should not be too much interfered with and it's natural resources should be well managed. (Nature)

A26 When I think of nature I am reminded of images of green trees, mountains, birds, mankind. At the same time I am reminded of our polluted beaches, murky Yarra River and filthy Maribyrnary River. (Nature)

T138 No pollution in air, soil, water, human, animals and plants. (Nature)

A few persons mentioned that nature "no longer exists", for example:

J106 Such "nature" might not be in existence. If you say that nature is the thing untouched by human hands, you cannot deny 0% because some percent of the river and air in Amazon nature have connection with the places where human live. Activities of humans themselves might be a part of nature. (Nature)

Water is "Necessary" for life, and this was expressed in 13% of Nature comments and 12% of Life comments. Thai students and Hong Kong students were particularly conscious in the Nature comments and Australians mentioned this for Life comments more than other samples.

A1 Free growing, fed by nature, i.e. Mother Nature, through its sunlight and rain. Forests and animals. Animals living off nature. Humans destroying forests etc. to improve technology and our own living standards. (Nature)

A141 The air we breathe, the water we drink, the plants we use or admire and the animals we share the world with. With the advent of science and technology we should hope nature alleviate the abuse from humans and thus prolong coexistence of all things on this earth. (Nature)

India67 Nature is a heaven. It contains and provides every new material that is very much needed for the survival of human beings. Water for example is an important thing in nature, without which no life can survive on the face of the earth. Greenery provides the primary production without which we cannot imagine a very presence on this globe. (Nature)

Water "resources" were mentioned by 7% of persons in nature and 4% of persons in Life comments. This includes, for example, water as a source of fish for food. This term was especially common in Thailand, for example:

HK38 PIC (trees, mountains, sun, flying birds, river, big and little fish). Nature is the resources and in a good, stable equilibrium among the elements. (Nature)

P98 Plenty of plants, green grasses, cool air, plenty of natural resources- mountain, lakes, falls. (Nature)

India484 Conserve nature for future. The natural resources like soil, minerals, waters, the vegetation and wild life which are useful for human society and maintenance of modern comforts. Conservation of these resource is very essential, ensuring a continuous yield of plants and animals used as food and other materials which are essential for the expanding human population. (Nature)

T167 PIC (trees, house, fish in sea, fields, mountains, shining sun). They are fished in the water, rice in the field, resources in the soil, minerals in the water. (Nature)

Recreational uses were more common in images of Life (9%) compared to Nature (2%), for example:

India261 PIC (clouds, sun, flying birds, rice paddy fields "field", persons swimming in irrigation stream). (Life)

NZ173 Person breathing, children playing, water, colourful plants, fish swimming, paua, mussels, sport, especially adventure thrill-seeking sorts. (Life)

T637 PIC (sailing boat) Father, mother and child. (Life)

The image of "flowing" was often associated with a river, and seen in 6% of the Nature comments and 8% of the Life comments, for example:

T348 If you want to control heavy flow of water, you have to control a big mountain first.

NZ33 Water flowing. Clean air to breathe. Clean living. (Life)

India167 The word life is like a sunrise with rays of light radiating with full of energy. It conveys a peaceful idea like the water flowing is a still lake life is a God given gift / treasure which should be saved / protected. (Life)

Table 1: Summary of number of comments about Nature that referred to water

Nature(N)

NZ

NZs

A

As

Japan

Japans

Sings

HKs

Phils

India

Indias

Thai

Thais

Israel

Russia

Total

N

85

37

52

34

111

147

69

31

48

135

75

242

78

9

111

1264

n total

282

90

173

100

294

368

219

91

135

405

240

619

212

27

317

3572

Proportion of total comments about Nature that referred to water (%)

% total

30

41

30

34

38

40

32

34

36

33

31

39

37

33

35

35

Proportion of total of the water comments about Nature that included a picture (%)

Picture (%)

15

19

15

44

12

45

46

74

40

36

51

59

69

11

16

39

Proportion of each comment relating to water (%)

<1/5

47

35

60

56

50

35

41

52

50

64

59

54

58

67

18

48

2/5

46

62

33

32

39

48

42

39

46

30

32

40

34

22

51

41

3/5

7

0

8

9

6

13

13

10

4

5

8

6

7

11

24

9

4/5

0

3

0

3

2

3

4

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

2

1

All

0

0

0

0

3

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

5

1

Number of ideas within each comment (%)

1

48

43

62

65

66

67

70

77

46

68

60

71

70

56

94

67

2

33

35

21

24

29

29

22

23

48

21

31

22

26

33

5

25

3

15

14

8

9

5

3

6

0

0

9

8

6

3

11

1

6

4+

4

8

9

3

1

1

3

0

6

1

1

1

1

0

0

2

Table 2: Summary of number of comments about Life that referred to water

Life (N)

NZ

NZs

A

As

Japan

Japans

Sings

HKss

Phils

India

Indias

Thai

Thais

Israel

Russia

Total

N

15

2

11

3

8

5

3

3

3

16

19

29

8

1

20

146

n total

250

80

171

86

286

320

200

88

110

390

240

575

205

25

267

3293

Proportion of total comments about Life that referred to water (%)

% total

6

3

6

3

3

2

2

3

3

4

8

5

4

4

7

4.4

Proportion of total of the water comments about Life that included a picture (%)

Picture (%)

13

0

18

33

0

40

67

100

0

12

47

59

88

100

20

36

Proportion of each comment relating to water (%)

<1/5

80

100

64

100

100

40

33

33

33

50

42

76

38

100

5

55

2/5

20

0

27

0

0

20

33

0

67

38

26

10

63

0

55

27

3/5

0

0

9

0

0

20

0

0

0

6

11

3

0

0

25

8

4/5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

33

0

0

5

4

0

0

0

2

All

0

0

0

0

0

20

33

33

0

6

16

7

0

0

15

8

Number of ideas within each comment (%)

1

67

100

91

100

100

100

100

67

33

88

79

93

88

100

100

87

2

27

0

9

0

0

0

0

33

67

12

11

7

13

0

0

11

3

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11

0

0

0

0

2

4+

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Table 3: Examples of water given in the Nature comments

Nature (%)

NZ

NZs

A

As

Japan

Japans

Sings

HKs

Phils

India

Indias

Thai

Thais

Israel

Russia

Total

N total

85

37

52

34

111

147

69

31

48

135

75

242

78

9

111

1264

water

35

16

21

15

18

14

12

6

25

23

16

24

13

67

15

20

lakes

19

24

12

15

7

15

12

16

15

8

15

8

12

0

36

14

rivers

36

41

31

38

59

52

38

42

33

47

45

40

56

11

40

44

ocean

35

41

52

29

36

35

28

35

52

24

20

37

26

33

12

32

weather

25

24

29

12

6

4

12

0

0

16

12

8

5

33

2

10

clouds

6

16

6

12

5

14

19

13

29

13

17

9

12

11

2

11

waterfall

4

8

2

6

1

0

14

6

15

5

9

7

6

0

0

5

snow

7

14

0

0

0

1

3

0

0

4

12

0.4

1

0

0

2

rainforest

5

3

15

24

2

1

3

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

rainbow

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

4

0

1

1

moist

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0.2

manmade

1

0

0

0

6

5

0

0

0

1

3

3

0

0

0

2

H2O (Science)

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0.3

Table 4: Feelings expressed about "water" in the Nature comments

Nature (%)

NZ

NZs

A

As

Japan

Japans

Sings

HKs

Phils

India

Indias

Thai

Thais

Israel

Russia

Total

N

85

37

52

34

111

147

69

31

48

135

75

242

78

9

111

1264

None

60

43

48

21

36

28

33

6

25

33

9

10

10

78

2

25

Clean

25

14

15

0

10

10

14

10

38

13

7

8

6

22

6

12

Polluted

10

3

4

15

7

0

1

3

6

7

4

1

1

0

0

4

No longer exist

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

4

3

0

1

0

0

1

Necessary

11

11

17

21

12

9

7

29

6

8

7

20

32

11

2

13

Resources

1

0

6

0

2

2

0

0

0

1

0

27

12

0

3

7

Recreation

0

0

0

0

4

5

0

6

4

4

3

3

1

0

0

2

Flowing

10

8

14

3

10

6

6

0

8

12

5

3

0

0

0

6

Beauty

22

41

35

56

45

78

78

84

69

60

103

74

85

22

95

69

Untouched

27

51

10

26

15

12

6

6

15

3

5

10

9

22

1

11

Protect

1

3

12

6

5

0

0

0

0

5

5

4

1

0

1

3

As it is, natural

2

14

6

9

11

3

1

0

0

1

0

12

18

0

0

6

Negative

11

3

4

3

3

1

0

0

0

3

0

0.4

0

0

1

2

Cannot control

0

3

2

0

3

2

0

0

0

0

3

1

1

0

0

1

Religious

1

0

0

0

1

1

6

0

13

10

11

0

1

0

0

3

Concept

0

0

0

3

3

1

0

0

0

6

1

4

3

0

1

2

Refreshing

1

0

0

0

3

3

1

0

2

2

4

0.4

0

0

5

2

Surroundings

0

3

13

3

1

3

3

6

6

2

0

2

3

11

1

3

Table 5: Examples of water given in the Life comments

Life (%)

NZ

NZs

A

As

Japan

Japans

Sings

HKs

Phils

India

Indias

Thai

Thais

Israel

Russia

Total

N total

15

2

11

3

8

5

3

3

3

16

19

29

8

1

20

146

water

33

0

36

33

38

20

33

0

33

25

16

38

25

0

30

29

lakes

0

0

0

33

0

0

0

33

0

6

21

7

13

0

30

11

rivers

0

0

27

0

0

20

0

33

0

25

0

17

25

100

15

14

ocean

47

50

36

33

63

60

33

0

33

31

53

14

25

0

10

31

weather

47

50

0

0

0

0

0

0

33

13

5

3

13

0

15

11

clouds

7

0

0

0

0

0

33

33

33

6

21

7

13

0

0

8

waterfall

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6

11

3

0

0

0

3

snow

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

rainforest

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

1

rainbow

13

0

0

0

0

0

0

33

33

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

moist

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

manmade

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11

10

0

0

0

3

H2O (Science)

0

0

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

1

Table 6: Feelings expressed about "water" in the Life comments

Life (%)

NZ

NZs

A

As

Japan

Japans

Sings

HKs

Phils

India

Indias

Thai

Thais

Israel

Russia

Total

N

15

2

11

3

8

5

3

3

3

16

19

29

8

1

20

146

None

40

0

9

0

50

40

33

0

0

13

0

3

13

0

10

14

Clean

7

0

18

0

0

0

0

0

33

0

5

3

0

0

10

6

Polluted

0

0

9

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

No longer exist

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Necessary

7

0

36

33

0

0

0

0

0

6

16

17

0

0

10

12

Resources

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

21

0

0

0

4

Recreation

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

67

0

16

7

13

0

10

9

Flowing

20

0

0

33

0

20

0

0

0

13

16

0

0

0

0

8

Beauty

27

50

18

33

0

20

67

100

67

19

89

48

100

100

65

50

Untouched

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Protect

0

0

0

0

13

0

0

0

0

0

5

0

0

0

0

1

As it is, natural

13

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

2

Negative

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

13

0

3

13

0

0

3

Cannot control

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Religious

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11

0

0

0

0

1

Concept

27

0

9

0

38

0

0

0

0

44

16

7

0

0

0

15

Refreshing

0

50

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5

1

Surroundings

7

0

9

0

0

20

0

0

0

13

0

0

0

0

0

3

The image of "beauty" was the most common image, in 69% of the Nature comments and 50% of the Life comments. It was especially common for pictures, but also often expressed by words, for example:

R300 Calm blue ocean, forest in summer, a lot of birds, animals, flowers. (Nature)

NZ76 Nature is the beauty around us. Mountains, rivers, fields, wild life, flowers etc. (Nature)

An "untouched" image was common in all countries and especially in New Zealand for images of water in Nature, but it was not seen in the Life comments at all (Table 6). For example:

A58 Untouched by human. Green grass, trees, healthy animals, blue oceans, land used but not abused by humans. (Nature)

J101 The thing untouched by human hands (ocean, mountain, environment). The things using for life which made not by by scientific material but by wood, cotton etc. Talking about food, the things not used pesticide very much. In everyday life, to live plainly without recklessness. I think the life which is too much comfortable may be not so good. (Nature)

Related to this is the idea to "protect" water, and conservation of water. For example:

J313 It may be because I majored in geology, however, I imagine mountains and oceans first rather than living things when I think of nature. I have an impression that the characteristic of the earth is to have been in an extremely rare environment, that the existence of life is the characteristic of the earth. They say that we should protect nature, though, I cannot agree with them (naturalists) obediently. Because, over the long history of the earth it will not be fixed hot or cold, and great extinctions will happen. (Nature)

The more frequent formulation of these ideas was the comment " as it is, natural", found in 6% of Nature comments and 1% in Life. For example:

J130 The state as it is, mountain, river, ocean. (Nature)

Js381 Nature: As it is, water, green. (Nature)

A few respondents expressed "negative" comments about water, 2% in Nature comments and 3% in Life comments. These included floods and weather, for example:

India463 When we hear the word Nature, water falls, snow covered mountains, volcanoes and the forest come to our mind. Though man has control over nature, nature also controls man as floods, cyclone and earthquake. (Nature)

NZ40 Is a bird in the middle of a big city. The flowers the hills and river and lakes. It can be the sea and the storms and the floods. Lightening, thunder and the sun or a hot summers day. Animals roaring free and an old man tending his garden. (Nature)

J344 The past environment where I was born and grew up, murmur of the little stream, firefly dancing wildly, croak of frog, picking raspberry, picking bayberry, stormy ocean, fallen sacred trees, flood under the floor, etc. (Nature)

A few persons in Nature comments also expressed the idea that we "cannot control" water, for example:

T689 Nature is something that was born itself without control of humans, for example, tree, water, air, fishery and mineral. (Nature)

NZ78 Mountains, trees, bush, rivers, sea, rain, snow, wind, sunshine. Animals the mother instinct of the females and the arrogance of the males. The least acceptable aspects of human be which many excuse by saying it is "nature". Suppose one could call the naked savagery of the war in former Yugoslavia as that. Good thing humans can't control the weather, and it will be a bad day when they can. We will have to learn how to stop abusing the planet - weather might improve. (Nature)

There were some comments that expressed a "religious" concept, found more in the Philippines and India, where water is associated with spiritual cleansing in Catholicism and Hinduism, respectively. However there was a low proportion in most countries, for examples:

S47 The natural environment - trees, grass, wild flowers, the sun, moon, stars, rain, wind. Things created originally by God, not modified by man in any way. (Nature)

P8 Nature is a creation of God that should be conserved and not abused. Examples are forest, animals, marine / aquatic life, etc. Without nature, life would be dull. Also, it brings us closer to God because you marvel at his creation when you're with nature. (Nature)

P20 Nature for me is the natural creation of God, without modifications done by man. For example, a free-flowing waterfall instead of a man-made one. Nature has the natural order of things like the ecological system that is happening in the forests. They are animals, trees not tampered by man's inquisitiveness. (Nature)

There were also more general philosophical "concepts" expressed, for example the idea of basic elements of earth, water, wind, fire, for example:

T164 Soil, water, fire and wind. (Nature)

The "refreshing" feeling of water was used by 2% of persons in Nature comments and 1% in Life comments, for example:

Js109 'Green'. 'Blue'. Like a tobacco commercial, there are refreshing forests and a lake, and clear water flows and small birds fly in a clear sky. (Nature)

Discussion and Conclusion

The first relationship we have to water is dependence. The Australian samples, both public and students, mentioned the necessity of water for life more than in any other sample, reflecting the drought conditions that exist in Australian continent (Table 6). Water was also regarded as a resource in some countries more than others, reflecting our need for it. There was concern about pollution of water and loss of water, however still more people associated water with a clean or beautiful image in all countries (Table 5, 6).

Water has spiritual images of cleansing, purity, being used in most religions. People may also have socio-biological fondness for water, as with other parts of the environment (Macer, 1998b). It is an advantage biologically to like water, and an advantage to value nature. Water appears to be refreshing for soul as well as body.

This data confirms that water is a common image of nature. Water has deep meanings for people, and by exploring this relationship we may not only understand more the relationship between living organisms, people and the environment, for aquaculture, fishing, and enjoyment, but also we may understand more of ourselves. This type of survey can allow us to make comparisons between samples in the way that people imagine basic concepts, and is a supplement to more direct questions like whether they conserve water or recycle goods (Macer, 1994b). We need both sorts of questions if we want to understand people's relationships to nature and components of it.

In the global age we live in, the question of application of the ethical principle of justice to the common oceans and the required diplomacy, provides a very important precedence and lessons for future global planning. Laws like the Law of the Sea also provide a precedent for protecting biodiversity that is increasingly being recognised on the land too (Macer, 1999). It is clear from this survey that people think water is very important for nature and their life, and we should consider the field of water ethics if we want our future to be prosperous.

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank the persons involved in the International Bioethics Survey especially Shiro Akiyama, Angeles Tan Alora, Yukiko Asada, Hilda Azariah, Maureen V. Boost, Prasert Chatwachirawong, Thomson Jacob, D. Gareth Jones, Chalobon Kachonpadungkitti,Yuko Kato, Vijay Kaushik, Frank J. Leavitt, Tit Meng Lim, Nobuko Y. Macer, Gunasingh Masilamoni, Chin Choon Ong, Ron Rich, Peter Singer, A.K. Tharien and Miho Tsuzuki. Please note the references by Macer are available on-line on the Eubios Ethics Institute Internet site <http://eubios.info/index.html>.

References

Macer, Darryl (1994a) "Bioethics, water and the environment", La Mer 32, 103-6.

Macer, Darryl R.J., Bioethics for the People by the People (Christchurch: Eubios Ethics Institute, 1994b).

Macer, Darryl R.J., Bioethics is Love of Life: An Alternative Textbook (Christchurch: Eubios Ethics Institute, 1998a).

Macer, Darryl R.J. (1998b) "Animal consciousness and ethics in Asia and the Pacific", Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 10: 249-67.

Macer, DRJ. (1999) "Bioethics and sustainable development", pp. 112-114 in World Development: Aid and Foreign Direct Investment 1999/2000 , AJ. Fairclough, ed., (London: Kensington Publications 1999).


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