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SOCI 100 (167)

Political Economy of the Environment

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SOCI 100
Debra Pentecost

March 20, 2013 Political Economy of the Environment - Distinguish between production and consumption activities - Blame production o Relentless process of economic development  Controlled by industrial capitalists  Buttressed by state Treadmill of Production - Environmental problems and policies shaped by the treadmill of production - Inherent need of economic system: o Continuously yield profits o Expand consumer society - Position of State: o Economic incentives to new industry o Ensure flow of natural resources to industrial producers Canadian View of Natural Resources - Dominant view: nature can be privately requisitioned, virtually no limits - Oil, natural gas, minerals, lumber, fish, … water - A lot of resources have been sent to the United States Industrialism - Not arguing capitalism is problem - Given history of Soviet-style industrialization, and now China - “Unbridled industrialism” + lack of environmental responsibility = basis of problem Tensions - Governments torn in two directions: o Promote economic development & jobs Vs. o Meet public demand for environmental protection The Corporation film clip - Corporations do not see their actions towards the environment as deviant Risk and Risk Assessment - Risk = probability a particular hazard will occur - Many risks not hard to perceive - Must defer to experts – both scientific & medical Risk Assessment: 1. Organizational basis of risk o Size and complexity of modern industrial societies  shifting source of risk o Now: large-scale organizations o Beyond individual control - When environmentally-threatening accidents happen, we have to reflect on structural arrangements. o Make breakdowns inevitable o Not necessarily a result of personal er
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