There are various reasons why we have a moral imperative to care for our environment and live sustainably. These reasons are based on the values that people have placed upon the natural world. Not only are there values concerning the inherent importance and the responsibility that people have towards it, but there is also the value of utility that people should take into account. In this sense, the moral responsibility that people have towards future generations as well as one another and society as a whole should be taken into account. Therefore, although it might be for differing reasons, people should have a moral imperative to care for the environment and live sustainably.
Although societies should always be mindful of the resources that they consume, and many often have been, the immediate concern for the environment that can be seen today has only recently become widespread. With the rise of innovation, human beings have moved outside of a total dependence upon the environment. With this, though they have come to the point where they have begun to have a profound impact upon the environment. This has given way to a relatively new respect for the fragility of this natural order, giving rise to questions concerning the responsibility that people now have towards protecting the very natural processes that they have so recently begun to understand.
For those who see an inherent value in the environment, this sense of responsibility is important. Just as the environment acted as a source of protection for life throughout the course of our evolution, human beings should act as protectors of the environment that we were once, and still are to an extent, a part of. People should act as stewards of the environment now that they have, in a sense, moved beyond it. With this in mind, the argument that the environment holds a value in and of itself, despite how useful it is to people, is rooted in an objective sense or ethics and morality.
Even for those who do not believe that there is any intrinsic value in helping the environment, there is the basic utility of sustainability that must be taken into account. The resources provided by the environment are necessary for the sustainable growth of civilization. The larger that civilizations become, and the more reliant they become on technology, the more of an impact they begin to have upon the environment. As the world has begun to become more and more connected, the ability for these nations to sustain their growth has become increasingly difficult. This has resulted in the rapid decline of the ecological order. This is especially true now that even the smallest and poorest countries are beginning to have an impact.
Other than the moral or ethical responsibility that people have towards the environment and maintaining its balance, the utility of sustainability lies in its implications for the future. Even without considering abstract notions or ideologies concerning our role within the natural order, the importance of this is evident. There is the need for people to be sure that future generations will have what they need to survive. This is a moral imperative that is not rooted in the idea that the environment itself has value. Instead, the value of sustaining nature lies in its usefulness to people.