Population and Environment

Population and Environment
The Ecological Environment
• Sociological inquiry and the environment
– Social theory
– A multi-dimensional solution to a problem that
should unite all disciplines
The Health of the Earth
• Climate Change
• Ozone depletion
• Pollution (Water, air and land)
– Nitrogen and phosphorous pollution
• Depletion of natural resources
– Deforestation and desertification
• Threats to Biodiversity
• Environmental injustice & global inequality
• Why are many people not concerned about
environmental problems?
???Underline Philosophical
• 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
• Are humans separated from nature and above
• Will this belief lead to the total destruction of the
planet and humanity itself?
Sociological Perspectives on the
• Functionalist
Maintaining balance
• Interactionist
– People’s behaviors and understandings of environmental
• Conflict theory
– Who benefits from status quo? Why is status quo (lax
regulation) not changing?
– Which groups are competing in influencing public
Corporate Interests and the
– Have corporate interests influenced the public
debate concerning social problems?
Corporate Interests and the
…Concerning the environment, elite interests are far less subtle
• Corporate Suasion
– Environmentalists seek regulation, while most
corporations are highly opposed
• 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
• What are the causes of environmental
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
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
Inequality and the Environment
• Environmental Injustice and Conflict theory
– Environmental justice movement- A fusion of civil
rights and environmental activism