, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 15-27

Governing Planetary Nanomedicine: Environmental Sustainability and a UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Bioethics and Human Rights of Natural and Artificial Photosynthesis (Global Solar Fuels and Foods)

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Abstract

Environmental and public health-focused sciences are increasingly characterised as constituting an emerging discipline—planetary medicine. From a governance perspective, the ethical components of that discipline may usefully be viewed as bestowing upon our ailing natural environment the symbolic moral status of a patient. Such components emphasise, for example, the origins and content of professional and social virtues and related ethical principles needed to promote global governance systems and policies that reduce ecological stresses and pathologies derived from human overpopulation, selfishness and greed—such as pollution, loss of biodiversity, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as provide necessary energy, water and food security. Less well explored in this context, however, is the ethics that should underpin global use of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology as forms of planetary therapeutics. Nanotechnology may be particularly important, for instance, as a mechanism for improving upon photosynthesis and engineering it into human structures for localised production of carbon-neutral hydrogen based-fuel and carbohydrate-based food and fertilizer. Artificial photosynthesis, because of its unique and widespread public and environmental benefits in this period of human history, may even be termed the moral culmination of nanotechnology, assisting this planet to move beyond the Anthropocene epoch to that of the Sustainocene. This paper explores practical steps towards planetary nanomedicine involving governance of artificial photosynthesis, including a UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Bioethics and Human Rights of Natural and Artificial Photosynthesis (Global Solar Fuels and Foods).