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6 Environment and technology notes.docx

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Carleton University
SOCI 1002
Christian Carron

Environment and technology Paradox of technology - Whose responsibility for the cost of technological progress? - An example is the destruction of the ecological and climatic equilibrium of the planet - The natural resources of the earth are depleted in the pursuit of profit, but there is nothing inherent in such pursuit that operates as a check upon such behavior - Industrial organizations/businesses which bring us many pieces of technology that while producing pollute air and water - The explosion of private cars and motorways, airports and aircraft once expected to resolve the problem of mobility and transportation, creates traffic jams, air and noise pollution, destroys whole areas of human settlement - Nowadays we hear, time and again, heated debates about who should pay for, say, polluting the supplies of fresh water, disposing of toxic waste, or the damage caused to the landscape by new opencast mines or motorways - No one seems to assume responsibility for their existence and consequences Risk society (a few slides on this) - Risks are dangers we cannot see or hear - Beck coined term “risk society”:Apostmodern society defined by way in which risk is distributed as a side effect of technology • Technology distributes danger among all categories of population, with some categories more exposed to technological dangers than others  Danger not just from technology but from mounting environmental threats as well - Risks are outcomes and side-effects are difficult/impossible to calculate and define - Genetically modified (GM) food as an example the debate revolves around uncertainty in terms of not knowing the price that will be paid in the future for current decisions Technology and environmental degradation - Global warming, industrial pollution, decline of biodiversity - Global Warming • Side effect of technology most troublesome for many is environmental degradation • Our increased dependence on fossil fuel burning since Industrial Revolution has contributed to global warming, i.e., gradual worldwide increase in average surface temperature  There is concern global warming is responsible for serious climatic change that is fueling upswing in (i) extreme meteorological events; (ii) partial melting of polar ice caps; and (iii) rising sea level  There is also concern about potential for rising ocean levels flooding some heavily populated regions throughout world • Global warming: the gradual worldwide increase in average surface temperature - Industrial Pollution • Industrial pollution is emission of various impurities into the air, water, and soil through industrial processes • In Canada, most pollutants are especially highly concentrated in southern Ontario and southern Quebec • Pollutants affect us both directly and indirectly:  Directly, by seeping into our drinking water and air we breathe and causing a variety of ailments ranging from asthma to cancer (particularly among the young and seniors)  Pulmonary system either developing or fragile will suffer more  Indirectly, by coal-burning power plants, pulp-and-paper mills, and motor- vehicle exhaust emitting sulphur dioxide and other gases that then form acid rain  Acid rain: a form of precipitation whose acidity eats away at, and eventually destroys, forests and ecosystems of lakes… • Pollutants also indirectly affect us through CFCs, which once were widely used in industry and by consumers (e.g., in refrigeration equipment) • CFCs contain chlorine, which is responsible for depletion of ozone layer, 8 kilometers to 40 kilometers above earth’s surface  Ozone layer: 8 kilometers to 40 kilometers above the earth’s surface. It is depleted by CFCs. The depletion of the ozone layer allows more ultraviolet light to enter the earth’s atmosphere, which increases the rate of skin cancer. • Depletion of the ozone layer allows more ultraviolet light to enter earth’s atmosphere, which increases rate of skin cancer… • Another pollutant that affects us indirectly is
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