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Lecture 7

FCSS*1010 Lecture 7: Environmental Issues

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Greg Nepean

Chapter 15: Environmental Crisis (p. 327 end) Environmental Problems: Environment provides us means to survive High income nations present a greater threat ecosystems than rapid growth in middle and low income nations since energy use and consumption are greater Ecosystem: all the populations of plant and animal species that live and interact in a given area at a particular time, as well as the chemical and physical factors that make up nonliving environment Biosphere: all earths ecosystems put together Ecosystems dont have infinite ability to support population growth or environmental depletion Carrying Capacity: max population an ecosystem can support without eventually being degraded or destroyed Environmental Degradation: disruptions to environment that have negative consequences for ecosystems Involves removing natural resources and adding to environmental problems through pollution Size of pop, level of affluence, and harmful technology available in a society are major contributing factors Structural Functionalism: Argues environmental problems result from population growth, density, and specialization Technological innovation is important for society but has latent dysfunctions (pollution, overuse of natural resources, excessive solid waste) Believe solutions to overpopulation and environmental degradation lie in social institutions Cornucopian View of Nature: views nature as a storehouse of resources that exist only for use of currently living humans Growth Ethic: celebrates the (imagined) ability of technology to solve all the worlds problems easily including those that technology itself has caused Promotes belief that world will always improve so long as we indulge in inventing, producing, and consuming items Individualism: forefronts personal goals and desires over collective interests Longterm sustainability can only be achieved through cooperation, at the expense of shortterm individualistic thinking Conflict Theory: Environmental problems negatively affect poor more often and severely than rich Rich people have means to protect themselves from consequences of locally occurring disasters, which is not possible for people in developing countries where disaster occur Solution: redistribution of wealth, collective action by underclass to gain political attention to needs From Marxist point of view population growth is encouraged by capitalists who use unemployed people to keep other workers from demanding higher wages or better conditions Contemporary theorists say economic decisions made by capitalist class and political leaders lead to environmental problems that are passed on to the people Environmental Classism: disproportionate number of hazardous facilities are present in areas with large proportion of poor people Symbolic Interactionism: Focus is on the lived experience of humans in environment Understand peoples labelling of the estimation of environmental risk Greenwashing: redesigning and repackaging products as environmentally friendly or green, playing on some customers wish to help the environment Feminist Theory: Relationship between overpopulation and womens literacy and fertility Higher educated women and those who participate in the workforce have less children
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