PAGE PAGE 2 SOCIOLOGY 360 Environment and Resources PART IV: THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM Outline: Lecture IV 2 Re-defining the Problem (from Earth?s pt. of view) 04/14/09 & 04/16/09 I INTRODUCTION Is the treadmill new? NO! Is environmental degradation new? NO!!: China; ancient Greek and Roman societies declined in large part because of widespread and severe environmental problems. When societies move toward the edge of ecological limits, even small changes in economic, social, political, or ecological factors ( impacts on the society?s ability to survive. II THE PROBLEM FROM EARTH?S POINT OF VIEW H.L. Mencken: ?Here?s what it says in Genesis: ?So God created man in his own image.? Now let me sum that up: (1) The cosmos is a giant flywheel making 10,000 revolutions/min. (2) Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on that giant flywheel. (3) Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed & set spinning to give man the ride.? (Religion w/ a capital ?R?) (Idea that the world evolved specifically to produce the human species & that evolution ended when humans appeared on the scene. But no sign that evolution has stopped. There is no reason to think that speciation has stopped. The Real Problem: **humans may degrade the environment so severely that we could cause our own premature extinction!!** ?Earth?s time? (Lester Milbrath): a movie starting on January running a year that represents all time since the origins of the Earth. Units: Each frame of the movie is 1 year. Each minute is 8,752 years. Each hour is 525,740 years. Each day is 12,602,240 years. Appearance of species: March ?one-celled microbial life.More complex forms of life ? August or September.Multi-cellular organisms ? November.Dinosaurs December 13. Mammals about December 15.Dinosaurs go extinct by December 26. The genus Homo develops at about 7:00pm on December 31. Modern humans develop at about 11:49pm on December 31. Human civilization appears at 11:59 on December 31. Industrialization: last 2 seconds of the movie III EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY Evolutionary biology = natural processes of species origination and extinction. This includes: 1.)physical processes and 2.)biological processes. Physical processes = processes that directly involve energy and matter: laws of physics and chemistry. Ex. Big Bang ( 3 basic subatomic particles: electron + proton + neutron = atoms. Physical processes produce habitat and life through 4 processes: strong nuclear forces + weak nuclear forces (these deal w/ how the sun burns)( nuclei formed from subatomic particles, forming atoms + electromagnetic forces ( chemical bonding of atoms to form molecules = minerals and rocks ( gravitational force caused mineral and rock molecules to form planets ( more chemical bonding caused complex molecules of life to form. Chemical reactions set stage for origin of life on earth. Earth formed from interstellar cloud of gas, dust, and hydrogen ( an atmosphere of hydrogen and hydrogen-based gases plus water vapor and carbon dioxide. Exposure to energy (sunlight, lightening, meteorites) (chemical reaction that produced amino acids. Amino acids = building blocks of proteins, the most essential materials in all life forms. Physical processes + chemical reactions ( complex molecules constantly forming, breaking up, and re-forming. Biological processes of reproduction, random mutation, and natural selection transformed complex molecules to life. Reproduction: complex molecules, instead of breaking up and re-forming, reproduced themselves. Random mutation = error in reproduction process that was fatal, or neutral and reproduced the variation, or an improvement and reproduced the variation. Increasingly complex molecules ( cells with genes to store the information that is passed on in reproduction (random mutation, etc.. Natural selection processes favor some individuals over others that survive environmental conditions (physical environment = cold, heat, humidity & the biotic environment = predators, parasites) longer and produce more offspring. When environment changes (ice ages, warm spells, volcanic eruptions, etc.), some organisms adapt while others don?t. **Adaptation depends on level of genetic variation in a species; if not enough variation, extinction occurs. Ultimately ALL species become extinct (part of the natural process). About 13 billion species since life began (only about 30 million species exist today!!). Rate of origination of new species has barely exceeded rate of extinction ( tiny surplus of origination over extinction (accounts for existence of life over time). (mutations) (environmental changes) Variation + Natural Selection = Origination/Extinction One Evolutionary product of increasing complexity = formation of organisms w/ enhanced learning abilities that permit cultural evolution & cultural adaptations to the environment (ex. wearing clothes in the cold): humans. Cultural evolution faster than biological evolution b/c learned information is passed on quickly. Humans can create environmental changes quickly but can only adapt to them slowly. Cultural adaptation (human time/ Genetic Adaptation(geological time.We risk changing the biosphere faster than we can adapt. Re-definition of The Problem: premature extinction of our species. Hints on where to look for core of the onion: cultural transmission of learned information about production of food, clothing, & shelter. Have humans always organized production the way it is today?
Want to see the other 2 page(s) in Redefining the Problem?JOIN TODAY FOR FREE!