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Chapter 16

SYG-2010 Chapter Notes - Chapter 16: Industrial Technology, Natural Environment, Global Warming

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Michael Turner

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Chapter 16 Technology and the Environment
Ecology: Studying the Natural Environment
Ecology: study of how living organisms interact with the natural environment
Links the social and natural sciences
Natural eviroet: Earth’s surface ad atosphere, including air, water, soil, and
other resources necessary to sustain living organisms
Humans stand apart from other species in our capacity for culture
o Only species that take deliberate actions to remake the world according to our
interests and desires
We rely on technology (knowledge that people apple to the task of living in a physical
Role of sociology
o Environmental issues are all social problems = products of the way humans
organize their lives within societies
o Sociologists
(a) examine how people consume natural resources and track the amount
of waste and pollution that people produce
 tak puli opiio o issues agig fo atual gas fakig to
global warming
(c) identify what categories of people support one side or the other of
various environmental issues
d deostate ho ou soietys tehology, ultual pattes, ad
specific political and economic arrangements affect the natural
The Global Dimension
o Our planet is a single ecosystem (the interaction of all living organisms and their
natural environment)
o Eo eas house = our planet is our home (the setting in which living things
and their natural environment are interconnected)
o Changes to any part of the natural environment ripple throughout the entire
global ecosystem
o Connections illustrated by use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Cheap, easy to use, nontoxic, and effective
Accumulate in the upper atmosphere when released into the
React with sunlight to form chlorine atoms
Chlorine destroys the ozone = increase in incidence of human skin
cancers and harm to plants/animals
Population Increase
o I = PAT
Eioetal ipat I eflet a soietys populatio P, its leel of
affluence (A), and its level of technology (T)
o 2000 years ago, the world had about 300 million people (less than the population
of the US today)
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o Living standards rose and death rates fell sharply with developed industrial
technology and medical science
o Sharp upward spike in world population = 1800 global pop was 1 billion
o Population reached 2 billion (1930), 3 billion (1962), 4 billion (1974), 5 billion
(1987), 6 billion (1999), and 7 billion (2012)
o Add  illio people to the olds total eah yea
o Peditio that olds populatio ill eah . illio y 
o Most rapid population growth = poorest regions of the world
Poverty and Affluence
o Rapid population growth makes problem of poverty worse and makes
environmental problems worse
o Poor people have little choice but to consume the resources they have (w/o
thinking of long-term environmental consequences)
o Long-term trend for the world = greater affluence
o Combination of greater affluence and rising population = bad for the
o Environment suffers from economic underdevelopment in some places and
economic overdevelopment in others
o Societies that gain the use of horticulture (small-scale farming), pastoralism
(herding of animals), or agriculture (with animal-drawn plows) have a greater
capacity to affect the environment
o Industrial Revolution: replaced muscle power with combustion engines that burn
fossil fuels (coal, oil)
o Industrial technology allows humans to bend nature to their will = consume
more energy resources and release more pollutants into the atmosphere
o Humans have brought more change to the environment of this planet in the last
two centuries than our ancestors did in all of human history before that
o High-income, high-technology countries (23% of pop) consume a great deal of
the olds eegy aout half
o Members of industrial and postindustrial societies produce 100 times more
goods than agrarian societies
o Increase in human population, rising level of affluence around the globe, and the
use of more powerful technology have positive consequences also put the lives
of future generations at risk
o Environmental deficit: serious, long-term harm to the environment caused by
huaity’s focus o short-term material affluence
o Important to face up to our environmental deficit
Reminds us that environmental quality is a social issue, reflecting choices
people make about what technology to us, how many children to have,
and how much to consume
Suggests that environmental damage often is unintended
Environmental deficit can sometimes be reversible
Cultural Patterns: Growth and Limits
People may freely use the planet and its resources for their own purposes except for
parks or wildlife preserves
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