The Environmental Movement Green Parties- European political parties whose central concern is the environment (Germany?s holds seats in the national legislature.) In the US, they have had little success. Environmental Injustice- refers to how minorities and the poor are harmed the most by environmental pollution Industries locate where land is cheaper. As a result, pollution is more common in low-income communities. Environmental Justice- sociologists have formed these type of groups that fight to close polluting industries (This often pits them against politicians and the wealthy) Environmentalists are convinced they stand for what is right and just. Most activists seek quiet solutions in politics, education, and legislation. Others are convinced that the planet is doomed unless we take immediate action. This conviction motivates some to choose a more radical course, to use extreme tactics to try to arouse indignation among the public and to force the government to act. Ecosabotage- actions taken to sabotage the efforts of people who are thought to be legally harming the environment (Example?Medicine Tree- 3,000 year old redwood in the Sally Bell Grove near the northern California coast, Earth First! (founded by Dave Foreman) Members chained themselves to the tree, were arrested, then a restraining order was placed and the cutting stopped) Other environmental justice groups- Greenpeace, Rain Forest Action Network, the Ruckus Society, and the Sea Shepherds Radical environmentalists- represent a broad range of activities and purposes, most envision a simpler lifestyle that will consume less energy and reduce pressure of the earth?s resources, some want to stop a specific action, others want to destroy all nuclear weapons and dismantle nuclear power plants, some want everyone to become vegetarian, others want the population to drop to 1 billion, some want humans to return to hunting and gathering societies Environmental Sociology Environmental Sociology- a specialty within sociology whose focus is how humans affect the environment and how the environment affects humans (the relationship between human societies and the environment) It is built around these key ideas: The physical environment should be a significant variable in sociological investigation. Human beings are but one species among many that depend on the natural environment. Because of intricate feedback to nature, human actions have many unintended consequences. The world is finite, so there are physical limits to economic growth. Economic expansion requires increased extraction of resources from the environment. Increased extraction of resources leads to ecological problems. These ecological problems place limits on economic expansion. Governments create environmental problems by encouraging the accumulation of capital. For the welfare of humanity, environmental problems must be solved. The goal of environmental sociology is not to stop pollution or nuclear power but, rather, to study how humans (their cultures, values, and behavior) affect the physical environment and how the physical environment affects human activities. Environmental sociology attracts environmental activists, and the Section on Environment and Technology of the American Sociological Association tries to influence governmental policies. Technology and the Environment: The Goal of Harmony If we are to live in a world that is worth passing on to coming generations, we must seek harmony between technology and the natural environment. At one extreme are people who claim that to protect the environment, we must eliminate industrialization and go back to the tribal way of life. At the other extreme are people who are blind to the harm being done to the natural environment, who want the entire world to industrialize at full speed. There must be a middle ground, one that recognizes not only that industrialization is here to stay but also that we can control it, for it is our creation. Controlled, industrialization can enhance our quality of life; uncontrolled, it will destroy us. It is essential, then, that we develop ways to reduce or eliminate the harm the technology does to the environment. This includes mechanisms to monitor the production and use of technology and the disposal of its wastes. The Rain Forests: Lost Tribes, Lost Knowledge In the past 100 years, 90 of Brazil?s 270 Indian tribes have disappeared. Tribal knowledge is lost as group members adapt to village life. Tribal groups have developed intricate forms of social organization and possess knowledge that has accumulated over thousands of years. Kayapo Indians- belong to one of the Amazon?s endangered tribes Some Western scientists have come to realize that to lose tribes is to lose valuable knowledge. (Central African Republic- a man was dying from an infection that could not be treated, the Roman Catholic nuns asked a native doctor to help, he applied crushed termites and the man recovered) The disappearance of the rain forests means the destruction of plant species that may have healing properties. Some discoveries?needles from a Himalayan tree in India contain taxol, a drug that is effective against ovarian and breast cancer, a flower from Madagascar is used in the treatment of leukemia; a frog in Peru produces a painkiller that is more powerful, but less addictive, than morphine. On average, one tribe of Amazonian Indians have been lost each year for the past century. Ethnocentrism underlies much of the assault (Columbian cattle ranchers killed 18 Cueva Indians because they were animals, not people, the term cuevar means ?to hunt Cueva Indians?, these ranchers were found not guilty because of ?cultural ignorance?.
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