SOC 2 - Chpt 14 Outline - Environmental Problems I The...

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Environmental Problems I. The Ecosystem. i. Ecology: “the branch of biology that studies the relationship[s between living organisms & their environment” ii. Environment: “the conditions a circumstances surrounding & affecting a particular group of living creatures” iii. Photosynthesis: “the process by which plants capture light a& heat energy from the sun & turn it into food” iv. Ecosystem: “a complex, interrelated network of life forms & nonlife forms that interact with one another to produce an exchange of materials between the living & the nonliving parts” v. Ecologists know that changes in one part of the ecosystem will affect the other parts as well. II. Social Sources of Environmental Problems. i. Impact= Population × Affluence × Technology b. Population Growth. i. Carrying capacity: “an upper-size limit that is imposed on a population by its environmental resources & that cannot be permanently exceeded” ii. Exceeding the carrying capacity on a permanent basis could do damage to intimidate the capacity of the ecosystem to maintain human life. c. Affluence. i. Things that supply to the high levels of affluence: 1. Automobiles, airplanes, air-conditioning, refrigerators, etc. ii. Some ecologists believe that we may surpass the carrying capacity of the earth if we join current & future world population sizes with Western levels of affluence. iii. Affluence is much too tempting for most people to keep away from. d. Technology. i. Advances in technology→ new products that damage the environment even more but at the same time they can result in less polluting ways of doing things. 1. Can help diminish environmental damage: the gasoline used up today is less polluting than in the past & scrubbers were created to stop many of the pollutants of burning coal from going into the air. ii. The issue isn’t technology itself, but the uncontrolled technology that’s connected to gain the short-term reward without considering how it will affect the environment. e. Economic Growth.
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i. It can enhance levels of affluence: even though population size may not change, the economy needs to produce more if it is to offer higher levels of material affluence in the future. ii. Worldwide pressures concerning economic growth & competition have become extreme. iii. Corporations are inclined to ignore some of the costs of doing business, & these costs often involve environmental harm. iv. Some environmentalists take the side that continued economic growth will create an ecological catastrophe when the carrying capacity of the earth is exceeded. v. Supporters of economic growth argue that growth will offer the foundation for new technological discoveries that will help us reduce environmental harm. f. Cultural Values. i. Some religious beliefs & cultural values emphasize the idea that humans are superior to & have mastery over the earth & its creatures.
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