But do we notice when our own morality works the same way? For example, here's a section from a NYT article called "The 31 Places to Go in 2010":
9. AntarcticaSo, go now, because it's not banned yet? If you actually cared, you wouldn't go at all! But the NYT passes along — in quotes — the PR from one ship company, whose ship purportedly meets the new standards. Just meet the standards, and you — as opposed to that "flock" of tourists — can cruise right into that fragile environment. You can snuggle up with your "intimate views" of the frigid continent that you imagine you love so much.
This may be the last year that Antarctica is open to mass tourism — not because the ice is melting too fast (though it is), but because of restrictions that would severely curtail travel around the fragile continent.
Until recently, most vessels passing through Antarctica were limited to scientific expeditions, but an exploding number of tourists now flock to what is arguably the world’s last great wilderness. The tourism boom, scientists argue, poses a major environmental threat. Indeed, several passenger ships have run aground in recent years.
Countries that manage Antarctica are calling for limits on the number of tourist ships, for fortified hulls that can withstand sea ice and for a ban on the use of so-called heavy oils. A ban on heavy oil, which is expected to be adopted by the International Maritime Organization later this year, would effectively block big cruise ships.
With the new rules taking effect within two years, tour operators are promoting 2010 as the last year to visit Antarctica, while, at the same time, procuring lighter vessels that would be permitted. Abercrombie & Kent, for example, is introducing a new ship, Le Boreal (www.abercrombiekent.com), which its public relations firm argues “meets all the environmental regulations, so access to Antarctica via A&K will not be affected.”
Launching this year, the compact luxury ship holds 199 passengers and features an outdoor heated pool, steam rooms and private balconies that offer intimate views of some of the world’s remaining glaciers.
But that's not all. The NYT is tipping us off right now: There are only 2 years left to scoot down there in one of the big non-luxury ships. Why put Antarctica on the list of places to go in 2010 unless you mean to get out the message to the people who aren't going to be able to afford the "compact luxury ship"? Connect the dots! You're supposed to scoot down there while it's still affordable, before the rules kick in.
Now, I know there is this kind of morality that says that voluntary individual action has too little effect. We need rules to control what the hordes of people do. We were just discussing that here a month ago in connection with an environmentalist's op-ed that said "Stop 'going green.'" What we want are rules, and then we will follow them?
So China makes kids' jewelry with cadmium, and tourists flock to Antarctica, and we do all manner of selfish, harmful things, because it's not against the rules yet.