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SOC101 NOTES- Environment.docx

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Christian O.Caron

SOC101 NOTES- Environment Normal accidents: mishaps that occur because the very complexity of modern technologies ensures they will inevitably fail, though in unpredictable ways. Tipping point: threshold beyond which a system unexpectedly, rapidly and dramatically changes. The tragedy of the commons: people try to maximize their economic gain by exploiting the commons. The private company enjoys “free ride” because it profits from increased production but does not have to pay the costs associated with pollution. Externality: environmental impact that is produced by one party (industry) that does not take responsibility for the consequences and are addressed by another party , such as the state. Risk society thesis: contemporary societies have become preoccupied with issues related to distribution of social “bads”, like the environmental risks and externalities produced by industry. • Risk society: social system in which technology distributes danger and advantage among all social groups, although some are more exposed than others are. Economic contingency: public environmental concern depends on the state of economy. In good economic times, more attention will be given to environmental issues. Giddens: environmental issues are “back of the mind” because many environmental dangers are not tangible, immediate or visible in the present. Future discounting: psychological tendency to forgo future benefits in favour of immediate benefits. Framing: the way people interpret and give meaning to events and things in their social settings; how something is framed therefore influences how people act. Peak oil: tipping point at which new oil reserves can no longer be found. The difficulties in extracting oil will generate more greenhouse gas emissions. • Natural resources in Canada are owned by the government where it issues a licence for a private corporation to extract the resources by paying a royalty (percentage of revenue obtained through its use). • In Alberta, it has low royalty rate for oil extraction and the revenue generated from oil royalties enables Alberta to forgo imposing provincial sales tax on its citizens (it collects more revenue from oil than taxpayers). As a result, the public is less likely to scrutinize how the government spends public funds since they pay little tax (taxation strengthens democracy). Resource curse: arises in regions where valuable natural resources are especially abundant. Such abundance discourages democracy because privately owned natural resource industries provide government with most of its revenue, allowing them to exert excessive political influence and rendering government insufficiently politically accountable to taxpayers. Environmental governance: attempts by those in power to regulate and alleviate environmental problems; explores how environmental policies are developed and implemented, and how government interacts with industry, social movements and consumers addressing those issues. Environmental racism: tendency to heap environmental dangers on the disadvantaged. Polluter pays principle: addresses the externality problem by charging fines/taxes to force a corporation/country that causes pollution to pay the cost of environmental cleanup and protection. However, this approach is too coercive because industry complies only reluctantly with regulations to avoid legal liability and taxation. As a result,
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