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Canada (161,803)
Sociology (1,053)
SOCA02H3 (310)
Chapter 22

SOCA02H3 Chapter 22: Technology and the Global Environment

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Shelly Ungar

Chapter 22: Technology and the global environment • technology is the practical application of scientific principles • wildly defined as the application of scientific principles to the improvement of human life • technology seemed to be driving humanity down a one-way street named progress, picking up speed with every passing year • technology produced tangible benefits • Charles Perrow, normal accidents are accidents that occur inevitably through unpredictably because of the very complexity of modern technologies • recognizes that the very complexity of modern technologies ensure they will inevitably fail through in unpredictable ways • Ulrich Beck said we live in a risk society • risk society is a society in which technology distributes danger among all categories of the population // postmodern society defined by the way in which risk is distributed as a side effect of technology • increased risk is due to mounting environmental threats • environmental threats are more widespread, chronic, and ambiguous than technological accidents are • Technology and people make history • Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev was the first social scientist to notice that tech- nologies are invented in clusters • a new group of major inventions has cropped up ever 40 to 60 years since the Industrial Revolution • argued that these flurries of creativity cause major economic growth spurts beginning 10 to 20 years later and lasting 25 to 35 years each • technological determinism is the belief that technology is the main factor shaping human history • [steam engine/ computer/ internal combustion engine] they did not become engines of economic growth until social conditions allowed them to do so • How high tech became big tech • north american governments have been relying less on scientific evidence and more on ideological preferences to support policy initiatives • research has been invigorated primarily in areas that are trendy, reflect the particular preferences of philanthropists and hold out the greatest promise for near time profit • basic research suffers because large multinational corporations now routinely invest as- tronomical sums in research and development to increase their chance of being the first to bring innovations to market, the time lag between new scientific discoveries and their technological application is continually shrinking • military and profit-making considerations now govern the direction of most research and development • environmental degradation • global warming • humans have been burning increasing quantities of fossil fuels • burning these fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere • the accumulation of carbon dioxide allows more solar radiation to enter the atmos- phere and less heat to escape • global warming is the gradual worldwide increase in average surface temperature • more evaporation causes more rainfall and bigger storms which lead to more soil ero- sion which in turn destroys cultivable land • warming melts ice, causing sea levels to rise, which increases the chance of flooding in heavily populated coastal regions in Egypt Bangladesh, the United States and else- where • Far north, melting ice reveals tundra areas of land above the tree line that are covered by grass, moss and shrubs which contain rotting vegetation and animal remains re- leases methane • industrial pollution • industrial pollution is the emission of various impurities into the air, water and soil through industrial processes • second major form f environmental degradation • acid rain is a form precipitation whose acidity eats away at and eventually destroys forests and the ecosystems of lakes • ozone layer is 8km to 40km above the earths surface. it is depleted by CFCs the de- pletion of the ozone layer allows more ultraviolet light to enter the earth’s atmosphere, which increases the rate of skin cancer • the decline in biodiversity • biodiversity refers to the enormous variety of plant and animal species inhabiting the earth • biodiversity changes as new species emerge and old species die off because they cannot adapt to their environment • the environment has become inhospitable to so many species that the rate of extinc- tion has accelerated to at least 1000 times beyond the natural or background rate • genetic pollution • refers to the potential dangers of mixing the genes of one species with those of anoth-
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