The Environment & Society

The beginning of the book focused on the fact that whether we know it or not, everyone has a view about the environment, “everyone clings to a theory of what causes environmental problems”.  The authors of this book aspired to investigate the primary approaches and learn the ways that these multiple theories have repercussions, or potential problems for some.

population and scarcity – identifies issues with population growth and the ecological footprint of different societies.  The methods for ensuring enough food were instituted by the Green Revolution.  Masses of people become an issue only because of our means of coping with this issue.  The growth of cities has heavily influenced the impact that we have on our environment.  Population growth is an effect of other processes, including development and the rights and education of women (educating women can be used as a way to reduce population growth).

markets and commodities – as long as environmental goods and services can be sold or traded, scarcity will be diminished by economic forces.  Markets and economies are seen as the driving force of consumption, and simply by changing the supply or the demand, the uses of these goods can be altered.  Market-based environmentalism depends greatly on the ability to apply market values on environmental products, which can sometimes prove to be very difficult.

institutions and “the commons” – Views environmental problems as the result of a lack of collective action.  Environmental components of our lives are often viewed as a “common” property, which often means that individuals seek their immediate gain at the expense of greater gains that may have been made through cooperation.  Developing cooperation and common views on many environmental products can be very difficulty because there is often not an official owner or responsibly party.  By creating social institutions, however, it is possible to get a large group of people to use environmental resources responsibly.

environmental ethics – There are competing ethical systems out there that look to protect the environment.  The greatest competition is that between anthropocentric and ecocentric systems.  The priorities of conservation have also been competing with those of preservation (conservation being more so interested in the sustainable use of the environment, and preservation being the protection).  Aldo Leopold developed the “Land Ethic” which has been forwarded as a way to value nature from an ecological standpoint, without eliminating the role of humanity- basically providing an intermediary ground for both ends of the spectrum.

risks and hazards – These are best considered within political and economic frameworks because there are so many external variables in the construction of what is considered risky or hazardous.  People’s perception and estimation of risk is often not rational and is influenced by emotion or affect, which is why this approach is often limited.

political economy – Politics and economics are often merged throughout history.  The way that human interactions with nature are shaped are mostly mediated through work, labor, and the economy.  The economy is well known for its over-exploitation of natural resources, which often drives many environmental movements.  As nature becomes commodified and unevenly developed and degraded, humans impacts on the environment are further shaped by the factors controlled by the political and economic spheres of life.

The social construction of nature – This section illustrated the importance of understanding that much of what we see as “normal” or “natural” is very often socially constructed.  In order to properly view the environment and protect it, we must first identify the social constructions that shape our understanding.  This has been described as a “major challenge” because many of these socially constructed views are deeply engrained within us.

Finally, trees have been an important part of human life for as long as we have been around on this planet.  They represent a symbol for people and an essential material part of human history.  Trees fueled civilization (fire wood) and represent “the core marker of the complex relationship of environment and society” (p 161).  Trees are defined as a perennial plant with a woody structure, yet they represent so much more in various societies, including our own.  Christmas trees, for example, have become a marker for a holiday.  What do trees mean to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beginning of the book focused on the fact that whether we know it or not, everyone has a view about the environment, “everyone clings to a theory of what causes environmental problems”.  The authors of this book aspired to investigate the primary approaches and learn the ways that these multiple theories have repercussions, or potential problems for some.

population and scarcity – identifies issues with population growth and the ecological footprint of different societies.  The methods for ensuring enough food were instituted by the Green Revolution.  Masses of people become an issue only because of our means of coping with this issue.  The growth of cities has heavily influenced the impact that we have on our environment.  Population growth is an effect of other processes, including development and the rights and education of women (educating women can be used as a way to reduce population growth).

markets and commodities – as long as environmental goods and services can be sold or traded, scarcity will be diminished by economic forces.  Markets and economies are seen as the driving force of consumption, and simply by changing the supply or the demand, the uses of these goods can be altered.  Market-based environmentalism depends greatly on the ability to apply market values on environmental products, which can sometimes prove to be very difficult.

institutions and “the commons” – Views environmental problems as the result of a lack of collective action.  Environmental components of our lives are often viewed as a “common” property, which often means that individuals seek their immediate gain at the expense of greater gains that may have been made through cooperation.  Developing cooperation and common views on many environmental products can be very difficulty because there is often not an official owner or responsibly party.  By creating social institutions, however, it is possible to get a large group of people to use environmental resources responsibly.

environmental ethics – There are competing ethical systems out there that look to protect the environment.  The greatest competition is that between anthropocentric and ecocentric systems.  The priorities of conservation have also been competing with those of preservation (conservation being more so interested in the sustainable use of the environment, and preservation being the protection).  Aldo Leopold developed the “Land Ethic” which has been forwarded as a way to value nature from an ecological standpoint, without eliminating the role of humanity- basically providing an intermediary ground for both ends of the spectrum.

risks and hazards – These are best considered within political and economic frameworks because there are so many external variables in the construction of what is considered risky or hazardous.  People’s perception and estimation of risk is often not rational and is influenced by emotion or affect, which is why this approach is often limited.

political economy – Politics and economics are often merged throughout history.  The way that human interactions with nature are shaped are mostly mediated through work, labor, and the economy.  The economy is well known for its over-exploitation of natural resources, which often drives many environmental movements.  As nature becomes commodified and unevenly developed and degraded, humans impacts on the environment are further shaped by the factors controlled by the political and economic spheres of life.

The social construction of nature – This section illustrated the importance of understanding that much of what we see as “normal” or “natural” is very often socially constructed.  In order to properly view the environment and protect it, we must first identify the social constructions that shape our understanding.  This has been described as a “major challenge” because many of these socially constructed views are deeply engrained within us.

Finally, trees have been an important part of human life for as long as we have been around on this planet.  They represent a symbol for people and an essential material part of human history.  Trees fueled civilization (fire wood) and represent “the core marker of the complex relationship of environment and society” (p 161).  Trees are defined as a perennial plant with a woody structure, yet they represent so much more in various societies, including our own.  Christmas trees, for example, have become a marker for a holiday.  What do trees mean to you?

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