These decisions often cause an ethical dilemma to arise and as such a great deal of consideration must be given to the course of action adopted by an organization so as to insure an ethical and morally coincided outcome Is achieved. Ethics by definition are the “Inner-gulden moral principles, values and beliefs that people use to analyses and interpret a situation” (Waddled, Jones and George 2010, 145) before deciding “what is the ‘right’ or appropriate way to behave” (Waddled, Jones and George 2010, 145).
This broad definition of ethics lends itself Interpretation as such “no absolute or unvarying standard exists” (Waddled, Jones and George 2010, 145) to determine how a person should behave in any given situation. In the absence of clearly defined rules; managers must base their decisions on sound philosophical principles which are Intended to promote and guide ethical decision making. There are three primary philosophical approaches to ethical decision making and each provides a slightly different yet complementary view in terms of defining the parameters of an ethical decision.
The utilitarian approach for example defines an ethical decision as one which “produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people” (Waddled, Jones and George 2010. 148). The moral rights model on the other hand places a significant deal of importance on human rights and as such defines an ethical decision as one which “protects the fundamental rights and privileges of people effected by It” (Waddled, Jones and George 2010, 148).
This Is further supported and complemented by the Justice model which recognizes the need for an ethical decision to “distribute benefits and harms among stakeholders in a fair, equitable or impartial way” (Waddled, Jones and George 2010, 148). The utilitarian model as previously described is a popular philosophical approach to ethical decision-making. The model relies on the principle that an ethical decision Is one, which “provides the greatest good for the greatest number” (Velasquez et al).
In the case of Whiteness’s Males Creek project this method is most appropriate as one must weigh up the economic benefits of the project going ahead with the possible negative social and environmental impacts, which could result. In this particular case the social and environmental risks are too great and as such expansion of the project should be considered ethically questionable.
Due to the current market conditions it is clear that the “mining of black coal is one of Australia’s most important industries, creating significant employment In regional Australia, fuel for low-cost electricity generation ND steel-making, and Is a vital source of export Coal Association 2012). It is however also clear that many social and environmental impacts would ensue from a major project such as that at Males Creek.
Firstly the health and during the extraction process and as such “miners’ lungs can become contaminated”(Castled et al. 2010, 3). The air quality of areas surrounding coal mines is also significantly lowered and as such this can significantly affect the health of people who do not partake in the extraction process. The health effects on people outside of the extraction process are widely varied but can include serious health sues such as “increased rates of cancer, heart, lung and kidney disease”(Beyond Zero Emissions 2012).
These conditions can be attributed to the inhalation of particulate matter (or PM); “smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter” (EPA 2013), which is often attributed to the extraction and transportation of coal. Local communities with direct links to the coal mining industry are also threatened with losing or completely altering their existing social fabric. Coal mining and mining operations in general require a substantial labor force in order for an operation to continue efficiently and effectively.
This high demand usually leads to an influx of people into the local community which in essence acts to alter the existing demographics, cultures and way of life. This influx of people has also been attributed to an “increase in criminal and other anti-social behavior” (Collaring et al 2012, 33) and as such can represent a substantial negative force for change within an often small and tight knit community. Coal mining by nature is also a relatively lucrative business and as such mine operators tend to work at considerable higher rates of pay than local community members.
This aspect of the industry is of particular once as it highlights a divisive force based on the “unequal distribution of wages and benefits” (Collaring et al 2012, 33), which can act to split apart a local community. This in essence leads to fractions of the community leading a life of substantially better quality and with access to better health, education, accommodation and recreational services whilst others may be forced to endure unemployment and hardships.
This is further compounded by the apparent crippling effect of the coal mining industry on local small businesses and the long term economic stability of a given region. In many cases there is an observable inability on the part of the community to “capture economic benefits” (Collaring et al 2012, 33) associated with the mining project and as such this often leads to a situation in which it may be extremely difficult or in some cases impossible for the community to generate “alternative means of economic capital” (Collaring et al 2012).
This can essentially leave a community vulnerable to downturns in the resources sector whilst at the same time forcing the community to become more dependent on the mining operation in question. Furthermore established local businesses may begin to suffer s a result of the coal mining operation due to the draining effect that a major project such as that at Males Creek has on the local labor pool. This in effect can also lead to a “labor shortage in other industries” (Collaring et al 2012) and further propagates the community dependence on the mining operation.
The wider environmental impact of coal mining in the Males Creek region is also a matter of great concern. Coal mining releases many kinds of pollutants into the surrounding environment and as a result several forms of environmental crises including “air elution, fire hazards, ground deformation, water pollution and water resource depletion” (Geiger and Stile 2004) can occur. Coal mining has also been linked to the extraction process.
Methane as a chemical is “21 times more potent as a global warming gas than carbon dioxide”(Maier, 2010) and is therefore a major contributor to climate change. If allowed to continue unchecked, global warming will severely impact the lives of humans not only in Australia but throughout the world. It is estimated that “50 million more people will be forced into hunger by 2050 due to global warming” (Sofas Australia 2013) and as such the world faces a massive Unitarian crisis which will affect the “poorest countries” (The Irish Times, November 19, 2012) the most.
Furthermore the Males Creek project is located within the Gunned Basin and as such this places it in close proximity to the extensive Learn State Forest. This in essence raises further ethical issues with regards to the proposed project as the forest is renowned for being the home of “34 threatened species including the Koala and the Masked Owl” (Males Creek Community Council 2012) A project of substantial size could potentially impact upon the biodiversity of the area due to the extensive land clearing which would need to e done in order for the project to go ahead.
It is therefore paramount to include this factor into the overall decision as it indirectly affects many people within the community who feel that it is unjustified to place corporate profits ahead of the pristine ecosystem which has coexisted with the established community. Looking at the evidence presented, it is clear that the effects of coal mining are broad and far reaching. There are both positive and negative aspects of a project such as that at Males Creek and often profits and the thought economic prosperity blinds people to the broader and often grimmer picture of reality.
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