Sociology 465 Environmental Sociology
Exam #1Study Guide
Exam #1 is Thursday, February 15th
Covers class lectures and the following:
Harper Chapters 1 & 2
King & Auriffeille Introduction, Chapters 1, 2, 3, & 5
What is sociology? Sociology is the scientific study of interactions and relations among human beings. Sociology is, above all else, a way of viewing and understanding the social world. It allows one to understand social organizations, inequalities, and all sorts of human interaction. In other words, sociology is the study of humans within their societies how they work together or don't, and how they interact with one another on a day to day basis, whether it is with close family or just interacting with your dry cleaner when you pick up the laundry. All of these are social interactions and worthy of interest to the sociologist.
We also discuss several other topics like What parts of the constitution establish executive, legislative, and judicial branch?
What is culture? (Note we talked about this in class & it is discussed in Harper chapter 1 under “sociocultural systems”) Culture is the set of values, beliefs, behaviors that form a peoples way of life. Culture is learned and socially transmitted from birth through either learning or social transmission. Culture can be a little different or very different between different collective groups, and therefore vary widely. If you want to learn more check out What is electrical activity in the brain?
Be familiar with the definition of environmental sociology discussed in class. Environmental Sociology is concerned with how social systems and ecosystems interact. Traditionally. scientists have seen the environment and society as two separate disciplines with little, if anything, in common. Science has come to understand that not only does society affect the environment, the environment affects society. They are interwoven. Because humans are not separate from but a part of the environment then society and the environment can only be fully understood in relation to each other. Not only do human societies have more and more of an impact on the environment, the environment has a great impact on society. We look to our natural environment for medication, for a place in which to expand our ever growing societies, even wars are fought over these things).
Be familiar with the tenets of the HEP and NEP as discussed in class and Harper chapter 1. The HEP, short for the Human Exemptionalism Paradigm, assumes that humans are unique among the species and are therefore exempt from the power of environmental forces. This, according to its proponents, is because humans have culture, something they consider unique among the species. Since culture can vary almost infinitely and therefore change more quickly than biology allows, many human differences are socially induced, not necessarily inborn. Any differences among new members of society can be eliminated through socialization. Therefore, cultural accumulation means that progress of the human species can continue unchecked by biology, making all social problems ultimately solvable. This theory does not take into effect the normal, ongoing effects of evolution or the evolution of societies. We also discuss several other topics like Why do companies switch to integrated marketing communications?
The NEP paradigm, short for New Ecological Paradigm, theories are opposed to HEP theories. Although humans are extraordinary in their abilities and advancement of their societies, they are still only one species within an interdependent ecosystem. While social and cultural forces are certainly important, humans are not exempt from the web of nature and its feedback linkages.
Humans live in a biophysical physical environment that, depending on one's particular location and surrounding ecosystem, impose potent restrains on human affairs. For example, just because we are human and some consider that to mean we are above the environment, this isn't so because if we are trapped on the top of one of the Rocky Mountains, our assumption that we hold dominion over the environment or ecosystem will not get us out alive. Be familiar with Dunlap and Catton’s 3 competing functions of the environment. Dunlap and Catton contend that natural systems have three general social functions: Living Space, Supply Depot, and Waste Repository. Since about 1900, these three functions have expanded as society has so that now, each function extends beyond our given Living Space. If you want to learn more check out What is another name for simple sugars?
Be familiar with the POET model and what it is attempting to articulate. The POET model illustrates the interaction of Population, Environment, Technology, and Social Organization. It demonstrates, with its arrows that connect with each section in a twoway interaction, that each of these functions not only effect each of the others, but is interdependent with one another. They depend on each other.
What is the ideal vs. the material? The Ideal involves how we think about and act towards the environment. It is influenced by our culture, ideology, values, and social experience. This would include what our families, elementary school teachers, peers, etc. influenced us early in life. It also includes the social interactions and higher education we have as young adults, that may alter our early perceptions. The Material is how society's consumerism and consumption, science and technology, development and population interact and affect environmental conditions. Be familiar with the “treadmill of accumulation” model and the three groups that have an interest in maintaining the treadmill of accumulation. The "treadmill of consumerism" has to do with the consumerists society in which developed countries lived. While consumers do receive ownership of the final retail goods they want, the three groups that have more of a vested interest in maintaining this treadmill would be the manufacturers, to an extent, the corporations/owners, and ultimately the investors. All of these groups work very hard to make sure that their products make into the end consumers' homes. If you want to learn more check out Why aren't all earth layers totally rigid solid?
Be familiar with the ecosystem concepts outlined in Harper chapter 1. What is monocultural agriculture? When humans take a biologically diverse ecosystem and reduce it to a mono culturally one, such as growing a yard a large area dominated by one type of plants planted exclusively for aesthetically purposes, they have decreased environmental diversity, This is also the case when large agricultural businesses take huge tracts of land and plant it with corn or soy. It is not necessarily how nature intended.
Be familiar with Harper’s discussion of “Worldviews and Cognized Environments” in Harper chapter 1. What is a cognized environment? Humans have an imagined idea of what the environment is, what it means to them. However, the actuality of the environment and it's ecosystems are not the same as what people generally believe them to be. The term cognized environment was coined to differentiate between the imagined and the real environment. Be familiar with Harper’s discussion of “Environmental Social Sciences” in chapter 1, including the ideas of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, and that of ecological economics. Ecological economists see economy as another intrinsic part of the ecological system instead of an isolated system that stands outside of nature. It is instead a subsphere of the ecosphere that is wholly dependent, completely integrated and completely contained within the system.If you want to learn more check out What does a free-body diagram show?
Be familiar with the discussion on soil, food, and water issues in Harper chapter 2. Is water use per capita increasing or decreasing in the United States? Although the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends each individual use and average of 20 liters of water per day for drinking, cooking, and washing, we in the North have become accustomed to using far more than this. It is estimated instead that those of this in the global North average 100 liters (26.5 gallons) of water each day. Perhaps in part as a result of this level of consumption, we are seeing our major aquifers, such as the High Plains Ogallala Aquifer in Texas and South Dakota which is greatly used for irrigation, being depleted eight times faster than nature can replenish it. This is disturbing. We are seeing such devastation in our soil reserves as well. Historically, small farmers used crop rotation, fallow fields, natural fertilizers, etc. to keep their fields fertile. Once large commercial agriculture companies came in, they not only consumed enormous amounts of water, the used monoagriculture, the growing of a single crop season after season, depleting the natural fertility of the soil and then replacing it with toxic fertilizers that then leech into the groundwater. Finally, food production may have increased, though not as much as anticipated because the large corporations' systems are producing fewer and fewer crops against their projections, the food produced locally is of poor nutritional quality and we have no control over how the food we import is truly grown.
How is water related to political conflict? Water is demand for more than human. animal, and plant consumption. Of course, all of these are very important: water for human consumption sustains life; water for animal consumption not only sustains life, but is essential in the production of food stuffs for sale; the same goes for plants keeping adequate water supplies for agriculture business keeps food available for consumers. Because ecologists are on the side of conservation and finding alternative methods for feeding the world using more sustainable methods; corporations and their investors generally look for the least expensive way to get an acceptable, though not great, product to market. This difference in objectives and opinions between thee two groups and others can cause major social and political conflict between them. Why is soil erosion a problem for human societies? Soil erosion results in the loss of topsoil, the layer of soil necessary to grow anything. An extreme case of soil erosion would be the US dustbowl during the 1930s. Replacing topsoil is a long process if left to nature. Even with human it is difficult, intensive, expensive, and takes time. This is time that the soil is unproductive. If the world begins to lose topsoil on a large scale, it could greatly decrease our ability to feed our 7.6 billion people adequately, which should be a priority goal for everyone. What is soil composed of, anyway? Soil is continuously being formed through the weathering and breakdown of rocks that deposit minerals mixed with organic waste materials, such as leaf and plant debris, as well as decomposing animals.
What are some of the strategies for limiting soil erosion? Traditionally, farmers preserved soil from erosion by terracing, contour plowing, and farming methods that left the soil intact between crops such as fallow years, crop rotation, and organic fertilizers.
What type of activity accounts for a majority of global water use each year? Agriculture is the most inefficient use use of water worldwide. As more and more corporate megafarms take over with their increased irrigation, approximately 60% of the water they use doesn't even reach their intended crop. Unfortunately, even if this unused water makes it back into the groundwater so that it can be used again, at what cost? What kinds of toxins does it contain that has now contaminated our groundwater even more?
Be familiar with Harper’s discussion on “Biodiversity and Forests,” in chapter 2. What does the acronym “HIPPCO” stand for and what does it teach us in terms of the factors driving biodiversity loss? HIPPCO is an acronym that stands for Habitat destruction, Invasive species, Pollution, Population (human), Climate change, and Overharvesting. As human take over more and more of the planet, even when they attempt to "preserve" some of the natural ecosystems, they aren't thinking about the fragmentation of those ecosystems. Humans also introduce non native species into an ecosystem believing that, if it does well, it is a good thing. They do not stop to think about the vital interactions between the elements of an existing ecosystem and how they just altered that. Pollution, unfortunately, is something that no corner of Earth is exempt from now. It poisons everyone and everything on the planet. Population growth continues to grow at enormous rates. How many people our planet can sustain without destroying what little natural environments we have left remains to be seen. As controversial as climate change may seem to the uneducated, the evidence is all around us. Our ability, and the ability of the environment, to adapt will be ky our future. Overharvesting is a result of our human baser instinct of taking as much as we can right now without any thought for tomorrow. We must get this under control if we are going to survive.
Which type of deforestation is the greatest “eliminator of species”? Commercial logging Why care about biodiversity loss (including bathmans…)? There are three major reasons to care about biodiversity: 1) the natural diversity of living things has great actual an potential value as food, medicines, and other substances commercially important for humans; 2) biodiversity provides ecosystem services that play important roles in different niches in ecosystems upon which all life, including human, ultimately depends; and 3) as the earth's evolutionary and biological heritage, the diversity of species is irreplaceable and valuable. In other words, the Earth is one huge ecosystem. Every organism in or on it plays a vital role for all the others. This includes us humans. It is all one big organism and the more species we lose each day, the more the light dims. Also, humans are the stewards of the Earth. We should be caring for her, not exploiting her.
What is the fastest growing solid waste problem in the U.S.? Plastics
Be familiar with Harper’s discussion of pollution trends in chapter 2. Electronic, or ewaste, is the fastest growing solid waste problem in the US and the world. It includes items such as computers, cell phones, batteries, solar cells, and even hybrid vehicles. Much of the components of these items are toxic to humans and the environment. Also, even though there are now more and more state of the art landfills designed to protects us and the environment, we are still seeing toxic seepage. Another option, incineration, is good in theory but still releases thee toxins into the are. Recycling is becoming more and more prevalent and, once instituted on a larger level, will be helpful in the fight. Consumers are also being encouraged to resuse waste that can be repurposed. Reducing our consumerism and use of products that take a long time to disintgrate in the landfill is another program consumers are slowly picking up on. In our past ignorance, we, and other nations like ours, have allowed ourselves to become a throwaway nation. On a personal level for each of us, we need to work on a better way. Our municipal systems also need to invest in more efficient and cleaner sewage and water treatment facilities. For example, about 37% of sewage sludge that can be used as farmland fertilizer is dumped in landfill where it makes it way into the groundwater, our drinking water, what we bathe our children in! Why?
Be familiar with Angelo and Jerolmack’s distinction between social and asocial nature. When speaking of the asocial nature, we are speaking of our growing desire to interact with nature on a more spiritual, one on one basis. More and more people miss and desire to reconnect with nature and "rediscover and embrace nature's mystery and grandeur," and "who look to nature for psychic renewal and regeneration." I believe as a society, we are beginning to miss what our ancestors took for granted...being not separate from nature, but a part of it. Those who subscribe to a social nature believe that the social and natural worlds are already joined. What are “frame break”? If you consider the way you normally think of something as a "frame," being forced somehow to see that thing differently would be a "frame break." Watching a movie that takes you out of your everyday can be considered somewhat of a framebreak, but you know it is happening and only have to leave the theater or turn off the TV to make it stop. In other words, " If asocial nature is an interpretative frame" then when the moments we take for granted are interrupted, that's a framebreak.
What is the driving factor underlying the destruction of the natural world according to Foster? Foster sees the acceleration of climate change and our limited time in which to act to avoid calamities and perhaps exert some kind of control over future climate change very short. What does “MCM’” stand for? MoneyCapitalMoney
What are “amplifying feedbacks,” according to Foster? Foster points out that greenhouse gas emissions are not occuring in a linear process as one might expect, but is undergoing a "dangerous acceleration." His four amplifying feedbacks are 1) rapid melting of arctic sea ice resulting in less reflection of solar radiation; 2) melting of the frozen tundra in northern regions, releasing methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, adding to climate warming; 3) recent indications of a drop in the efficiency of carbon absorption in the world's oceans over the last 60 years or so; and 4) extinction of species due to changing climate zones causing ecosystem collapse where systems are dependent on these species, along with the death of other species. What are tipping points? Foster believes than many major environmental issues facing the world today, such as climate change, are quickly reaching a tipping point, a point of irreversible damage that could bring about the ed of the world as we know it.
Be familiar with Longo and Clausen’s discussion of the “tragedy of the commons.” The tragedy of the commons refers to the destruction of resources held "in common" by a community. What contributed to the overharvesting of tuna? Historical bluefin tuna fishing allowed for harvesting of a historical nature, taking only what was needed and leaving the rest for next year. Once commercial fisheries took over within the last 50 years, overfishing began. Even governments and industry groups were pushing for larger harvests. Once the bluefin became a prized fish worth more than perhaps any other fish, its fate was pretty much sealed. What is the difference between use value and exchange value? An items use value is based on the items true value, where as its exchange value is the price the market will pay. For example, the bluefin was worth a lot of money, but had very little nutritious value.
What are York, Rosa, and Dietz attempting to illustrate with their analysis of the ecological footprint of China, India, Japan, and the United States? From the appearance of the graphs, China, India, Japan, and the US all are showing an increasing EF, indicating expansion of environmental exploitation, while at the same time the intensity for all four countries is on the decline. So, while they are using more resources, they are getting more economic productivity
out of each unit of resource. So, although they continue to use more resources, they are doing so more efficiently.
How does the analysis of footprint intensity vs. total footprint differ over the period 19612003 in these four countries? Japan's per capita EF stayed even, each of the other three countries approximately doubled. Finally, although India and China's numbers almost doubled, the US increased considerably more.
What is Jevons Paradox? If changes in a production system make it so that a given amount of output can be produced with fewer inputs, it seems "obvious" that the amount of inputs should decline. This doesn't usually happen though. Instead it grows because the scale of production grows faster than efficiency improves.
Can the area of “productive land” demanded by a country’s per capita ecological footprint exceed the area of “productive land” available in that country? Yes, of course. If the population of a country and therefore the "productive land," then the demand will be higher than the actual productive land available in a country.