HLTB03 - Chapter 19

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12 Dec 2012

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Health, Illness, and Health Care in Canada
Chapter 19: Environmental Health and Society
Environmental sociology highlights the important relationships
between state, industry, and society in the origin and
management of environmental health risks
Management of environmental health risks is a political process
and how those who advocate for a clean, safe, and healthy
environment often employ the notion of the precautionary
principle buy actively pursuing and lobbying for alternative to
establish environmental health regulations through social
movement activities
1962 publication of Silent Spring Rachel Carson describes the
impact of the synthetically produced chemical DDT; used in WWII
for pest control; became widespread in environment and food
chain; book inspired numerous political and social reactions to
protect the environment from chemical contamination
First photo of Earth brought to focus the finite and fragile
qualities of the physical/material basis that supports our lives;
made us realize the need to preserve our “life support system”
(carrying capacity) through environmental protectionism; need
to protect the planet for human health and well-being to be
1972 Limits to Growth report presented future scenarios based
on the results of inputting a large number of variables into a
computer model; extrapolating to the year 2100, report
concluded that industrial growth at its present rate would lead to
societal collapse based on major food shortages, the depletion of
natural resources, and an excessive amount of pollution and
contamination; report increased public awareness of
environmental issues
Our Common Future report introduced the influential notion of
sustainable development as “development that meets the needs
of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs”; possible solutions to
bridge together concerns about environmental protection and
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continued industrial growth
Thinning ozone layer is due to CFCs and global warming due to
greenhouse gases
Neo-Malthusian perspective Robert Thomas Malthus presented
an analysis where he argued that since the human population
grows geometrically/exponentially and that natural resources
grow linearly, at some point soon, the population growth will
outpace the growth of food needed to feed the ever increasing
number of people; human misery will be an inevitable part of life
in the future since Earth will no longer be able to provide
subsistence for the population
Garret Hardin argues that serious problems rise because the
sustainability of the commons (that is, that which is owned
equally by everyone in the community, i.e. common land, air,
water, etc) is threatened because of the inherent human drive to
maximize utility based on rational but selfish considerations;
common land will be quickly destroyed
Free ride – profiting of the expense of other people
Over-exploitation of the Earth’s resources will undermine the
ability of Earth to maintain its life-support functions which human
beings depend of for survival
Externalities are the environmental costs that are shared by a
community because they are treated as if they are external to
the system (example: the dangerous chemicals of an industry
that are carried in the air affects the air quality and lungs of
residents nearby; industry gets a free ride and profits while
resides pick up the cost)
Ulrich Beck states that we live in a “risk society” where the
unanticipated side effects or unintended consequences and
externalities of the industrialization process are brought to the
political forefront
Studies have shown today that virtually every living human being
to some degree carries what is known as a toxic body burden;
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