Environment and Society Part 1

Much of the beginning of the book was spent talking about the population density and the impact or lack of impact that it has on the environment. The reference to the decline in population over the years has raised the question: “Is population a social driver of environmental change or is it actually the product or outcome of social and environmental circumstances and conditions?” Population density has a huge impact environmentally in a specific area. The more densely populated an area is, the more resources that are going to have to be built and the more harmful waste is going to be produced. At the same time however, the environment could be a driving force and be the cause of more construction and waste from that construction being built. For example, those cities/countries that live on the coast and when waters levels start rising, construction will have to be done to protect the citizens in the town and the businesses that are built along the coastline.

In Chapter 4 he talked about this concept of the prisoner dilemma. This concept was about the decision making of two individual people of their own interests that create collective outcomes that not beneficial for everyone. Talking about this makes me think of how this corresponds to our society today with regards to the environment. The government makes environmental decisions everyday, whether it be at the governor level or the mayor level that can impact the environment that they live in. When cities are trying to expand, they are usually doing so by tearing down trees to build houses or shopping centers. While yes, it may help the city economically, it is hurting the environment as a whole. And they won’t notice the damage that they are doing right away. Only until it is too late will our society realize what we are doing.

Other Facts

  • Philosopher John Locke, had very anthropocentric views on nature about how an individuals property started with ones own body. Beyond the body an individuals physical labor is also a part of his property.
    • So if you were cutting down a tree, shooting a deer, or picking an apple, an individual has turned external nature into his personal property.
  • “The Land Ethic”, by Aldo Leopold, was one of the first widely read pieces to argue for moral extensionism.
    • Principle stating that humans should extend their sphere of moral concern beyond the human realm; most commonly, it is argued that intelligent or sentient animals are worthy ethical subjects
  • Most hazards fall in between natural and anthropogenic.
  • Cultural theory explains that human ways of thinking about nature and risk are neither universal nor idiosyncratic.
  • The most relevant concepts that we can draw from Marx for understanding nature-society relations are labor, accumulation, contradiction, and crisis.
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