Environment and Society: Part II

The beginning of this book dealt with ways to look at the environment and the problems that it’s facing, but the second half covers the issues themselves. These issues range from commonplace heavy-hitters (CO2, trees and bottled water) to some issues that we don’t often think about (wolves, tuna, and french fries).

When it comes to CO2, a major focal point of the book is international affairs surrounding global climate change. The book fully recognizes carbon emissions as a product of industrial society that we have become unable to do without. Generally speaking, no countries that produce a lot of carbon have any desire to stop themselves completely because (at least as of now) there is no other energy source as cheap and efficient as carbon-based fuels. Attempts have been made to solve these issues facing the world (the Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen Accords are among them), but they have largely been inconsequential. With the U.S. refusing to ratify treaties like this, almost no headway can be made in the international arena regarding global climate change. The biggest problem is that it only takes one country to keep polluting, and the air will stay polluted.

Countries in green have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, those in red refuse, grey is undecided.

Another Major problem that the book addresses is deforestation. Logging not only destroys the trees that are cut down, but the entire surrounding area is destroyed because of the loss of the trees. Ecosystems vanish, species go extinct and global biodiversity plummets, all for some lumber. The vast majority of the world’s old growth forests are gone, in fact, since 1995, 125,264 thousand hectares of forest land have been cut down worldwide with more to come! Complete ecosystem destruction for land that is easier to work: according to the world’s industries, human needs seem to supersede all others.

The problem that I did not know was a problem (or at least the one that jumped out at me the most) was the issue surrounding the wolves in the United States. I don’t see many wolves (and haven’t my entire life), I never hear about wolf poaching or trapping, so I just safely assumed they weren’t where I was but were doing okay. Little did I know that wolves were once a fairly dominant species in the U.S., with large spatial distribution and strong communities. Social conditioning has taught us to fear and hate wolves, leading to our overwhelming urge to get rid of them. And why not? They are a competing predator; a threat to our perch atop the food chain. It makes sense to demonize the enemy so it will be easier to get rid of. However, we as a society need to start recognizing the needs of nature above our own. By removing a predator from an ecosystem, you fundamentally change how that ecosystem functions (sometimes completely changing the system as a whole).

One Response to Environment and Society: Part II

  1. […] Reading : Environment and Society, Pt II […]

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