The environment qualifies as a sociological issue by virtue of the fact that (a) natural disasters affect people in unequal ways – poor individuals and poor countries are more vulnerable – and (b) many environmental threats are in part the result of human behaviour and sociology makes sense of that human behaviour. Humans have had a long-standing interaction with nature through the centuries. Since the emergence of agriculture, humans have been altering the landscape, but it was only with the onset of modernity that the balance of influence shifted from nature to humanity. In the contemporary period environmental ecology has become of concern to us all, and may involve substantial social adjustments. Though now viewed as overly pessimistic, the ‘limits to growth’ movement was responsible for the current concern with sustainable development, the notion that growth should limit physical despoliation and recycle the maximum amount of natural resources. Some of the threats to the environment are air pollution from industrial and domestic
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