Problems of the Environment

Problems of the
• What are some of the primary environmental problems faced today?
• What groups in society are the most concerned about the
• Age?
• Gender?
• Political affiliation?
Environmental Problems
• Global Warming
• Ozone depletion
• Pollution (Water, air and land)
• Depletion of natural resources
• Deforestation and desertification
• Threats to Biodiversity
• Environmental injustice & global inequality
• Why are many people not concerned about environmental
Underline Philosophical Assumption
• Is it the right of humanity to assume that this world was made for
people, and that all other species were placed here for our use and
• The cornucopia view of nature
• Are humans separated from nature and above nature?
• Will this belief lead to the total destruction of the planet and
humanity itself?
Primary Question to Consider Throughout
Class Session
• Should environmental problems take priority over many other social
problems? Why or Why not?
• Are most governments and individuals throughout the world acting
in ways that harm or help the environment?
Technology and the Environment
• Social Construction: Technology will save humanity
-Will it?
• Destruction of life on earth
• Extraction and consumption of earth’s resources
• Production of waste
Corporate Interests and the Environment
• Have corporate interests influenced the public debate concerning social
Corporate Interests and the Environment
…Concerning the environment, elite interests are far less
• Corporate Suasion
• Environmentalists seek regulation, while most corporations are highly
• Are the interests of large multinational corporations the same as the public’s interests?
Corporate Suasion: Exploiting Scientific
• Regarding issues of ozone depletion and global warming, there is
scientific uncertainty, which is exploited for corporate interests.
• I.e-Tobacco, asbestos, and lead industries
• Efforts to postpone regulations on greenhouse emissions have
followed this pattern as evidence surfaces to the dismay of skeptics:
• 1) There was no evidence, then…
• 2)Global warming was not due to human activity, now skeptics argue…
• 3)Consequences won’t be too severe
Corporate Suasion
• Public Relations Firms- Corps hire PR firms to fight battles against
• Front Groups (I.e.: GCC)
• SLAPPS- Use of Lawsuits to intimidate and drain funds of activist
• The Media & Corporate Censorship-Corporate interests often shape
media content
• Can the public trust the industry defenders who say that corporations
will look after the public interest and that government regulation is
not needed?
• What could have happened if past battles for environmental
regulation were never won?
• Is now the time to be cutting back on government regulation
regarding the environmental issue?
• What are the causes of environmental problems?
Social Causes of Environmental
• Population growth
• Industrialization and economic development
• Dependence on energy
• Capitalism and economic growth
• Growth=consumption; increased consumption=environmental deterioration (Polluting
emissions, resource depletion, and generation of waste)
• Cultural values
• Attitudes such as individualism, materialism, and militarism.
Cultural Values and Attitudes
• Individualism- Putting individual interests over collective welfare
• Recycling
• Consumerism- the belief that personal happiness depends on the
purchasing of material possessions
• In U.S. Quality of life is often related to one’s ability to purchase items
• Americans are bombarded with thousands of advertisements each day
Environmental Footprint
• The demands that humanity makes on the earth’s natural resources
• Determined by the patterns of production and consumption within one’s
• Ecological debt- Collectively, human demand on the earth’s natural
resources exceeds earth’s capacity
• To continue at current patterns of consumption, we would need two earth’s
by 2030 (WWF 2008)
Inequality and the Environment
• Environmental Injustice and Conflict theory
• Environmental justice movement- A fusion of civil rights and environmental
Global Inequality and the Environment
• Developing countries and poverty
Lack of access to drinking water and sanitation
High levels of air pollution
Malnutrition and hunger linked to environmental problems