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University of Toronto Scarborough
John Hannigan

SOCA02 1 Environment Refer to Slide 8 definitions Sociology of environment is relatively new 25-30 years old What caused the concern for the environment complicated but mostly due to population growth over the last 100 years Over the last 100 years medicine science has come a great way and cured many disease so human beings live much longer Food production has increase, so famine is virtually gone from the world today except for some areas such as Somalia where there is armed conflict; which is the main reason for starvation today rather than the shortage of good, getting food to the people is a big problem Population has increased significantly in the last 100 years + combined urbanization & industrialization = strains on the carrying capacity of the globe Urbanization = growth of big cities and this is possible due to industrialization and the industrial revolution The globe can only put up with so much pollution beyond which you get collapse this is the environment view The environmental movement has change a lot since 1970 there wasnt an environmental movement before that before this it was called conservatism Environmentalist like to believe they are the new kids on the block but it has been around for centuries America was the first country to set up a national park areas that are set aside as wilderness; no development takes place in these areas except logging even if it does it is closely monitored and controlled Loggers are the best environmentalists out there because if you cut down all the tree they would be out of business instead for every tree they cut down they plant 5 they are hardly stripping Canada of its forest Forest area in Canada has increased by 50% since 1950 Environmentalism interaction between society and the natural environment; interaction natural and social sciences Ecology the study of the interaction between living organisms and the natural environment Global warming based on some aspects on the natural sciences ( physical sciences) but also a social scientific issue Natural environment the Earths surface and atmosphere, including living organisms, as well as the air, water, soil, and other resources necessary for sustain life We need the environment to live but unlike other species we have the ability to create culture ; depending on what type of culture it is it can have a bad influence on the environment SOCA02 2 Environment A bad culture = ours according to environmentalism too much garbage, too much materialism, too much consumerism Environmentalists are fonder of simpler times of the past the days of blacksmith, medieval communities, rural simplicity, etc.- they oppose the industrialization, its consumerism and materialism Sociology is interested in the environment due to environmental problems from pollution Acid rain a problem 25 years ago o Produced from SO (su2fur dioxide) which are a result of coal-fired generating plants o There are still of some these plants in Ontario o They burn goal to create energy o SO goes into the atmosphere and then becomes rain = acidic rain 2 o This can go into lakes = death of plants fish o Forest are adversely effected o Acid rain was a serious problem in Canada but it was addressed and SO le2els have significantly decreased Global warming pollutant here is C02 o CO is2a naturally occurring gas in our environment plants cannot grow without it, and we breathe it out These pollution problems are created by humans and this makes the environment a social issue = environmental sociology The environmental movement tries to create a global outlook, it is a part of globalization o See the world as a single ecosystem system composed of interactions between all living organisms and their natural environment o System = interplay, interaction, interconnectedness o The globe is a single interacting system o Eco comes from Greek, it means house, therefore ecosystem (house system) is meant to remind us that the world is our home and in this world everything is related to everything else at least in the ecosystem Environmentalists tend not to like hamburgers, they are usually vegan o Hamburgers get selected to show the interactions within a single global ecosystem o People in North America get hooked on hamburgers & this attraction spreads McDonalds are all over the world o This increases the demand for beef and the demand for beef has expanded the ranching industry especially in Alberta and Latin America (Brazil & Costa Rica) o More hamburgers = more beef = more range o Range = a place where beef can eat grass o Ranches get the range for beef by clearing forests o Environmental movement says that tropical forests are critical for the Earths atmosphere SOCA02 3 Environment o Plants absorb CO2 and give off oxygen = photosynthesis therefore cutting down forests = cutting down supply of oxygen o A threat to the atmosphere is a threat to North America and the rest of the world o They also dont like cattle due to flatulence AKA fart cows fart a lot and this releases CO2 and methane which causes global warming o The more cattle we have = more global warming Technology & the Environment Most environmentalist see nothing wrong with technological stages and they often applaud them except for the very last stage Simple technology is one classification hunter gatherers o nomadic o reckoned by anthropologists that we all started off as hunter gatherers earliest form of social organization o physical we were the same then as we are now o lasted 100 000 years o virtually no impact on the environment o stone age people with stone age tools o people are better long distance runners than animals hunter gatherers would throw spears at animals and chase after the animal and catch it o no permanent settlements, no private property o minimal environmental impact society is at an intermediate stage of development = more impact on the environment o traditional people o horticultural o small scale farming little plots of land, little rice and wheat o pastoralism herding of animals o agricultural societies that farm on a wider scale because they use the plow device (wood, stick) pulled by animals horses, oxen o plows later made by copper, iron, steel, steel mechanization plow build into a tractor o traditional myth traditional people loved the environment and nature some actually did and worshipped nature but certainly not all of them o primary reason why traditional people didnt damage the environment that much was because they didnt have the technology that allowed them to change the environment significantly o booked by Bruckner, Tears of the White Man - Compassion as Contempt talks about an ideology called third worldism a prominent ideology running through the environmental movement tends to depict traditional people as innocent , without malice SOCA02 4 Environment similar to John Jack Rousso calls it the noble savage theme infinite goodness associated with traditional people mostly they are considered good because they loved nature and they were compassionate towards nature o many horticultural societies were called slash and burn societies/tribes plant on a plot of land and exhaust the soil because there was no fertilizer then they would slash down another section of forest and burn it so that they would have a fresh plot to plant on lacked the technology to slash and burn to a great extent which stopped them from running the environment a great deal o dances with wolves can see a third worldism environmentalism running through stars Kevin Costner Sioux aboriginal routinely had slaves they conquered other tribes who they would make into their slaves - slavery is a global phenomenon seen in ancient Greece & Rome Sioux a plain tribe and a rosy picture is painted of their relationship with buffalo that they only killed what they needed = myth that modern environmentalism established But they actually used to run buffalo off the edge of a cliff and sometimes there was 100s or 1000s and obviously they didnt use all of them o Third worldism seen in Pocahontas, Indian Princess, Dances with Wolves, Avatar ( directed by James Cameron) o In Avatar, the nasty guys knock down this tree it is the tree of life o Traditional people are treate
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