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Chapter 22

SOCA02 textbook notes for chapter 22 - technology and the global environment

5 pages62 viewsWinter 2011

Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA02H3
Professor
Malcolm Mac Kinnon
Chapter
22

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Chapter 22 Technology and the Global Environment
Technology: Savior or Frankenstein?
Technology: the practical application of scientific principles
oSupposed to improve human life
Infamous technological disasters
oLegionnaires disease alerted the public of the possibility that the buildings
they live and work in can harbor toxic chemicals, lethal molds, and dangerous
germs
oHigh levels of toxic chemicals were discovered leaking into the basements and
drinking water of the residents of Love Canal led to shutdown of an
elementary school and the evacuation of residents from their homes
oPartial meltdown of the reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility
caused lethal radioactive water and gas to pour into the environment
Normal accident: accidents that occur inevitably though unpredictably because of
the very complexity of modern technologies
Risk society: postmodern society defined by the way in which risk is distributed as
a side effect of technology
oDanger comes from both technological and environmental threats
oEnvironmental threats more widespread, chronic, and ambiguous, than
technological accidents
Technopoly: form of social organization in which technology compels people to try
to solve all problems by using technical rather than moral criteria, even though
technology is often the source of the problems
Neil Postam argues that the United States is the first country in which technology
has taken control of culture
Latest concern of technological skeptics is biotechnology
oMolecular biologists are able to split genes, create different characteristics of
animals and plants, etc.
Technology and People Make History
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Nikolai Kondratiev first social scientist to recognize that technologies are created
in clusters
Technological determinism: belief that technology is the main factor shaping
human history
2 of the worlds biggest industries: automobiles and petroleum
oJames Watt invented the steam engine
oGottlieb Daimler invented the internal combustion engine
John Atanasoff invented the computer
How High Tech Became Big Tech
Technology leads to business profits and military superiority over other countries
To make technology you need not only a genius but essential resources such as
organization and money
New invention factories need capital and experts (20th century moved to industrial
lines)
Only governments and giant multinationals could afford to sustain research efforts
Lots of biotechnology scientists have industrial affiliations
Environmental Degradation
Global Warming
The gradual worldwide increase in average surface temperature
As temperature rises, more water evaporates
oCauses more rainfall and bigger storms leading to flooding and soil erosion
Leads to less cultivable land which results in death along the chain
Global warming is causing the oceans to rise
Industrial Pollution
Emission of various impurities into the air, water, and soil through industrial
processes
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