Environment Lecture.docx

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29 Apr 2012

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Environment Lecture
Ecology in the natural environment: over the last 100, years massive population growth,
explosion in the number of people.
Mostly in the developing world with the exception of China there is an explosion
population, we see urbanization, and industrialization that put strains on the carrying
Whenever people become wealthy, they start having 1.6 children.
Environmentalism is the interaction between society and the natural environment
SEE SLIDE 6 for definitions
Ecology developed in Germany, the Nazi’s loves the ecological principles and great
Ecology is a place where the social sciences and natural sciences meet. We look at it in
the social science point of view
Natural environmentsee definition SLIDE 6
Sociology has become interested in the environment because problems like pollution,
and in the 19th century people in London England put their sewage in the Tems River
and people drank that water.
All of our natural parks were created long before 1972.
Yellowstone was the first national park in America.
The first big environmental clean ups came into existence were sewers.
The modern environmental movement came out of pollution (preoccupied with
pesticides and fertilizers)
CO2 is now seen as a pollutant.
Global warming, Acid rain, all are environmental concerns.
The environmental problem have been trying to identify problems and push forth the
These problems are created by humans and sociology develops an interest because of
the involvement with humans
Environmental sociology deals with the interplay, the movement and the impact of the
natural environment on humans.
Sierra club is a form of movement
This movement is global and globalization has emerged out of the environmental
The world is a single ecosystem.
The Romantic Movement hated industrialization and loved green fields and forests and
liked people tilling fields etc. The simple rural life was the ideal.
Ecosystem means totality (whole) the environmental movement has global ambitions.
People want to have global standards
The Copenhagen conference wanted to establish binding legal obligations on CO2
emissions. The problem with this is people from developing countries would don’t have
the money to cut back because they are not well off as developed countries.
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In india and china there have been green revolutions that have increased agricultural
sciences. The scientific use of fertliziers and genetic engineering
China and India and Africa have simply refused to go along with this because the limits
of CO2 impose limits on economic development in the third world
Eco-means house it reminds us that this world is our home and everything in the home
is interrelated.
People in North America get hooked on hamburgers. German immigrants brought the
hamburger to North America. This creates a demand for beef and the ranching (cattle)
industries in Latin America, Costa Rica, and Brazil. Cattle need range (grassland). People
get grassland by clearing forests. Tropical forests are critical for maintain the Earth’s
Atmosphere. Plants absorb Co2 and emit oxygen. Hamburgers in North America had
global consequences because the globe is an ecosystem. The idea is interdependence
and interrelatedness.
Technological Evolution human beings started out as hunter gatherers (bands no
larger than 25 people and have no impact on the environment because they are not
farmers. They pick roots and gather meat. Their impact on the environment is
negligible.) At an intermediate stage, there is a bit more technology entering the picture
where we have Horticultural societies (small scale farming) you also have Pastoralisim
which is taming animals oxen, horses, dogs, and cats which are domesticated. Dogs have
evolved to be able to live with humans.
In the intermediate stage: we have agriculture societies which use animal drawn
ploughs. There is a myth that says the traditional people love the environment and lived
in harmony with the environment and we should return to what Russo called “the noble
savage.” Traditional people did not love the environment because they didn’t have the
technology to exploit the environment.
Farming began in the Middle East.
The Industrial Revolution science and technology change all this where muscle power
gives way to engines which burn fossil fuel. The D word is DRILLING which is the ultimate
sin for environmentalists. This practice has been abandoned in North America.
Urbanization takes way. Environmentalists like small rural settlements. Dams used for
hydroelectric power and the discharge of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum).
Technologies create mass amount of garbage (solid and liquid waste). People in
industrial societies consume 100 times the goods as people in agrarian societies. This is
negative because we become a throw-away society which is a consumer society.
Sociologists call this conspicuous consumption (you consume conspicuously)
They also engage in conspicuous waste.
The modern environmental movement tried to draw attention to the garbage we
Environmentalism in the modern world is equivalent to higher taxes, to discourage
consumption. The problem with this is discouraging economic growth and jobs are
produced by economic growth.
The environmental deficit is the long term negative consequences cause by our
preoccupation with the material affluence.
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Being affluent is better than being poor. Environmental deficit is important because it is
a social issue reflecting choices that people make particularly consumer choice.
Environmental damage is a result of the profit motiveshort term gain obscures long
term pain.
They tend to give short shift to the idea that the deficit takes place is reversible. E.g.
Natural disasters commit the most damage, not us.
Mount Saint Helens is a volcano in Washington State. In the 1980’s it erupted and the
top third of the volcano blew up. It buried the forest in volcano ash. Many
environmentalists saw this disaster as men’s magnitude and it would take years to
repair. But the forest has grown back and you wouldn’t know a volcano blew up.
Exxon Valdez ship had a spillage. The floor of the pacific ocean where the oil seeps into
the ocean and over a five year period the natural seepage is equal to the Exxon Valdez
spill. The natural slippage of oil is constantly polluting the ocean
In England in the 18th century the two major rivers Tems river in England was terribly
polluted where human discharge poured into it and killed off all fish life. When they
built sewers to control the amount of liquid waste, both those rivers bounced back and
now there is sand. The environment is not as fragile as environmentalists say.
Limits to growth: the freight train growth. Freight trains have a lot of mass and
momentum, once is gets going it is hard to stop. There are a set of cultural values that
support the growth material comfort, money, are all associated with progress. If we
keep becoming wealthier and wealthier, this will have a negative impact on carrying
capacity. Environmental movements singles out capitalism with the emphasis of proft
and consumption
The biggest polluter is communism (soviet and eastern European communism) were
major polluters.
Rivers in eastern Germany were like rivers used to be in capitalist Europe. Western
Germany had to clean up the rivers of eastern Germany.
Infinite population, infinite planet, environmentalists are extremely pessimistic towards
humans. There is a Misanthropic streak( where they don’t like people)
Jaques Cousteau says that people overpopulate the earth
David Foreman see slide 7
Ethiopians were starving in 1987 David foreman said that nature should see its own
balance and people should just starve and not give food aid.
Prince Phillip of England says that if we could be reincarnated he would come as a
human virus to lower population levels. His son Prince Phillip is on the same page.
Stuart Brand refers to himself as an eco freak where he wouldn’t mind for a nuclear
exchange to control the population
DDT prevents malaria. Environmentalists got DDT banned. They recently brought it back
because the World Health Organization saw too many people dying unnecessarily.
The movement is Alarmist (which means there is a new danger). Environmentalists
believe they can predict the future
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