a short presentation on personalising a global ethics…

I am undertaking a Certificate IV course in Training and Assessment. As part of this we had to prepare and present a short talk on a topic of our choice. This is mine on personalising a global ethics.

I begin with the dictionary definition of ethics.

Eth·ics (from the Online dictionary)

–plural noun

1. ( used with a singular or plural verb ) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture.

2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.

3. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.

I am Jenni Goricanec.  I have recently been focusing my life towards issues of ethics: my ethics expands on the personal ethics embedded in the definitions above, of how you live together with other people, towards a mindfulness of living in the environment, including all living things and the earth itself.

In this first part I will call on the work of Peter Singer in his book One World to expand the definition of ethics that has been provided.

Ethics appears to have developed from the behaviour and feelings of social animals. We (humans) became distinctly different from animals when we started using our reasoning abilities to justify our behaviour to other members of our group.

This then is how we ended up with the types of laws and regulations to constrain the behaviour of individuals within our group (inVictoria) enforced by our police. Now that we are connected globally via the net, social networking, twitter we now may have to justify our behaviour to the world.

Further Singer suggests that how well we do in the future will depend on how we respond ethically to the idea that we live in one world, that is, one with a single atmosphere, economy, law and community.

I will focus here on our atmosphere and our economy:

  1. Our atmosphere because it is being affected by us through the vast quantities of fossil fuels being burnt (for example in fuel in transport – cars, trucks, trains, etc, in power generation and in mass production of food and products). Scientists have found that the effect of adding CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) to the atmosphere is to throw the earth out of “energy balance”. This lack of balance is beginning to bring about more extremes of weather – hurricanes are occurring more often and are breaking the records (e.g. Hurricane Katrina), droughts are becoming more deeper and protracted (e.g. in Australia our latest drought was 13 years: our normal weather cycle is 7-8 years).
  2. And economy because this is where you are directly affected.  Australians are by quite a large margin the highest emitters of Greenhouse Gases per head of population because of our coal fired power stations and because of the vast distances and subsequent use of cars and transport – so we are driving this problem faster than other nations. Luckily we have quite a small population so our overall total emissions are lower than other countries. But this does provide us with an opportunity to do help out more through modifying our behaviour.

I want here to focus again on personal ethics, because as a user of all the products and services that are available to you in Australian society you are affecting the climate (you are taking away other peoples good life – in other countries and for future generations), and pose the question – if you wanted to pursue these global ethics posed by Peter Singer in your life – what could you do?

I provide a few examples of information sources

You could take responsibility for reducing your Carbon Footprint (epa)

Frank Fisher’s book Response Ability

Your local government is probably doing work in this area (e.g. Boroondara) as is the Victorian Government (show)

I also bring in here The Carbon Tax logic as this is currently in the press. The intention is to drive down emissions by focusing on the major emitters (industry and energy producers).

If they emit more it costs them more

To ameliorate these costs they have choices

Reduce emissions through different technologies

Pass the costs on to customers


So let’s think about this – Can you reduce your own emissions and thus reduce your costs?

  • Low-energy Fluorescent light-globes
  • Turn-off lights
  • Use the car less, ride a bike
  • When you next replace appliances look for those with a low energy rating
  • Lots more possibilities (think about food, water, waste, energy in all aspects of your life…think about undertaking some projects to understand your responses…e.g. live on $2 per day for a week)


I have offered you an insight into an everyday ethics that includes the planet and focused on your personal responsibility for your part in this future.

I would note though despite all that it is important to adopt and have some form of ethics within your life, and would ask you to deeply consider the frame of reference for your ethics: what is important to take into account for you, your family, your extended neighbourhood and the world?

Jenni: Can you see how you can save money using any of these environmentally ethical techniques? Y/N

About Jenni

I am interested in working with others to enhance the sustainability of human systems. My practice is to engage with people by drawing on their own ways of knowing and understanding. I orient people toward the “pull” of future intentions, rather than the blind "push" of past habits and "best practice". I encourage people to break out of their cognitive silos, to think laterally and to focus on the whole problem systemically in all its inter-disciplinary complexity. My practice works through the essential processes of innovation – mobilising resources, enrolling peers, engaging allies and building public support. This form of engineering practice is about manoeuvring, dissolving boundaries, always being in action, and recognising that function, congruence and transformation are emergent properties generated through active learning by doing.
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