Jan 21 14 ENV222 lecture notes.pdf

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School of Environment
Geoffrey Mac Donald

5) Jan. 21 Causes: Consumerism Durning,Alan (1992). "Chapter 1: The Conundrum of Consumption; Chapter 2: The Consumer Society." How Much is Enough? New York: W.W. Norton. pp. 19-36. ! Kates, Robert W. (2000). "Population and Consumption: What We Know, What We Need to Know." Environment. Vol 42, No 3,April 10 - 19. ! The Jan. 21 and 23 lectures are closely related because they are both aspects of theAin the I=PxAxT formula. For both lectures, you need to understand my picture of the production process (the way society produces material goods). ! . capital . labour production (eg in the factory) demand (eg buyer) . material inputs Demand is the key factor. The capitalist system cannot function without demand, which is one reason consumerism is so important as a cause of the environmental problem. ! You also need to understand my definitions of each of the following: . state = human relations based on authority (state holds coercive force, ie, can use law to put a citizen in jail); government is the dominant organization . market = human relations based on the buy-sell contract (you give me $54.27, I will give you this ENV222 course reader); the firm (business corporation) is the dominant organization . civil society = human relations based on kinship (family), trust, love, hate; church, university, soccer clubs, etc are the dominant organizations; but also characterized by social groupings, eg Catholics, Muslims, environmentalists, students ! ! ! Lecture notes ! 1. Definition of "consumerism" 1.1 Physical definition . see reader pp 103-104; "transformation of materials and energy" ! . generally we apply the term to individual humans buying products which have been created by extracting resources, manufacturing, transporting and when no longer need the product becomes waste and is returned to nature ! 1.2 Sociological definition . as an "ism" consumerism is also an ideology, a set of values (buying is good because it stimulates the economy); reader p. 92 "full flowering of a new form of human society: the consumer society" !1 ! . a consumer society has as a major goal buying more products; reader p. 97 1953 purpose of American economy "to produce more consumer goods"; George W. Bush after Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, urgedAmericans to "go shopping" ! . in a consumer society, people have adopted the self-definition as "consumer" instead of "citizen" ! Note that we are talking about material consumption (physical matter, such as wood, metal or grain in the form of products (chair, car, bread). The economy also places monetary value on consumption of services (eg, a haircut, advice from a lawyer, a university lecture). We need to distinguish the two since one solution to the problem of consumerism is to shift from consumption of material products to non-material consumption (eg, reading or writing a poem) to derive pleasure. See discussion of decarbonization and dematerialization, p. 105. ! 2. Who consumes? . the Global North, more than the South; reader p. 95 Table 2-1 . within any country, the rich more than the poor . NB: not just individuals; organizations, eg governments, firms, universities, consume on a massive scale ! 3. Consumerism as a cause of the environmental problem 3.1 Physical problem . resource extraction: . land impacts, habitat loss, eg mining and connecting roads . pollution, eg mining, tailing ponds; natural gas fracking . fossil fuel energy used in forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction ! . manufacturing . pollution and waste from by-products . fossil fuel energy used ! . transportation . land/habitat fragmented, biodiversity impacts . fossil fuel energy used ! . solid waste . land used for disposal . a
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