For 500 years science has built an ever-increasing knowledge base, proceeding in fits and starts and yet moving inexorably toward improved explanations of the universe in which we live. But science has reached a crossroads. Thus society, too, is similarly positioned.
Years ago, during the Enlightenment and the subsequent Industrial Revolution, Nature as such was vast and apparently infinitely replenishable. It was inconceivable that harm was being done to the environment on a large scale.
But as Inigo Montoya remarks to Vizzini in The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word [inconceivable]. I do not think it means what you think it means."
What was inconceivable then is now, appallingly, very conceivable. The outcomes of many scientific fields of inquiry have the potential to destroy the biosphere.
The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.