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Topic 8 – Environment and Society
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  1. Topic 8 – Environment and Society A – Environmental Perception and Concern B – The Ecological Footprint

  2. A Environmental Perception and Concern • 1. Historical Changes • 2. Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s) • 3. Environmental Retreat (1980s) • 4. Environmental Globalism (1990s) • 5. Current Perspective: Reality Check

  3. 1 Historical Changes • Western perspective • Nature as adversary, something that had to be overcome. • Pronounced man/nature dichotomy. • Attitudes towards unrestrained exploitation of natural resources. • No sense of limits in terms of capacity. • Often supported by religious beliefs, particularly Christianity. • Non-Western societies • Lower technology levels and different attitudes prevailed. • Man / nature symbiolism. Nature Nature

  4. 1 Technological Changes and Environment Relationships

  5. 1 Climate change and the collapse of civilizations

  6. 1 Historical Changes • Preservation vs. conservation dichotomy • Preservation: • Focused on the maintenance of wilderness. • Any use of the resources contained therein would negate the continued existence of the wilderness itself. • Low impact tourism often permitted. • Conservation: • Favors resource management. • Preventing rampant exploitation but allowing some development to occur. • Difficult to assess the right level of resource exploitation (non-renewable resources). Preservation Conservation

  7. 1 Historical Changes • Early conservation movements • In Europe, early conservation movements were the preserve of the elite. • Mainly hunting grounds in large private estates. • Helped to preserve many species in Europe that would otherwise have disappeared. • National parks • First was Yosemite (1864). • Protection of one or several ecosystems from human exploitation or alteration. • Protected by the highest authority in the country. • Visitors must respect a set of rules and regulations.

  8. 2 Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s)

  9. 2 Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s) • Legislations • Regulatory laws were passed in the USA and elsewhere. • Enforcement agencies were created: • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the USA was created in the early 1970s. • Most states created their own environmental protection agencies. • Legislation was passed to help correct environmental hazards already created. • Prevent additional problems from arising. • Air quality improved in many areas; cleaner water reappeared.

  10. 2 Environmental Movements (1960s and 1970s) • Environmentalism and the global crisis • Carried the roots of environmentalism beyond local and national scales to the global scale. • Transnational dimensions of many environmental problems: • Many environmental problems do not recognize boundaries. • Acid rain in Western Europe (Sweden) and North America. • First UN Conference on the Human Environment: • Stockholm, 1972. • Creation of the UN Environmental Programme. • Rise of the neo-Malthusian perspective: • Rising concern over population growth. • Formation of the Club of Rome (1972). • Publication of the Limits to Growth and the formation of ZPG.

  11. 3 Environmental Retreat (1980s) • Retreat • Retreat for the environmental movement in the USA. • The oil crises helped weaken public support for environmental programs. • Conservative agenda of de-regulation. • Weakening of some environmental controls in the USA: • Onslaught on the National Forests of the USA. • Clearcutting regulations were weakened. • Easier exploitation by timber companies, especially in the Pacific Northwest. • Emphasis shifted from conservation efforts to increased resource exploitation. • Expand drilling into several protected areas.

  12. 3 Environmental Retreat (1980s) • Creation of a sustainable development ideology • Carbon Dioxide was found to cause global warming (1983). • A hole in the ozone layer was found over the Antarctic (1985). • Brundtland Report “Our Common Future”: • Sustainable is used for the first time. • Maintenance of life support systems. • Working to reduce the threats to those systems represented by erosion, pollution, deforestation, etc. • Preservation of genetic diversity. • Providing us with insurance for the future by guarding against the ravages of crop diseases. • Investment for future crop-breeding or pharmaceutical development. • Sustainable development of species and ecosystems

  13. 3 Environmental Retreat (1980s) • Environmental ethics • “We have not inherited the earth from our parents; we have borrowed it from our children.” • Development is often viewed in materialistic terms. • Focusing on resource utility through conservation. • Environmentalism as an elitist attitude intended to prevent development in the South.

  14. 4 Environmental Globalism (1990s) • UN World Conference on Environment and Development • Rio de Janeiro (1992): • Largest such gathering ever (100 heads of state). • Placed the environmental agenda at the center of the world stage. • Development made possible by the end of the Cold War. • Establish “Agenda 21”, a blueprint for action. • Europe and Japan: • World leaders in environmental affairs. • USA: • Role of obstructionist. • Objected to any negative references concerning consumption patterns in the developed countries. • Had the most to lose.

  15. 4 Average Temperature at the Earth's Surface and World Carbon Emissions From Fossil Fuel Burning, (in millions of tons) 1880-2002

  16. 4 Estimated Climate Factors Change, 1850-2000 (in watts/m2)

  17. 4 Environmental Globalism (1990s) • The Rio Declaration • “development must occur on a sustainable basis to meet the needs of present and future generations.” • Lack of detail and no operational aspects are considered. • Have relatively little meaning. • Global Warming Treaty • “Stabilization of the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level which would prevent dangerous interference with climate systems.” • Lacks a specific timetable for decreasing emissions. • No mandatory maximum levels for emissions. • Most countries other than the USA endorsed guidelines to reduce CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

  18. 4 Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Biodiversity Convention • Guarantees the protection and conservation of plant and animal species threatened with extinction. • Declares who has the right to develop and market products based on such species. • The USA opposed this treaty (biotechnology sector).

  19. 4 Countries Having Ratified the Biodiversity Convention, 2004

  20. 4 Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Agenda 21(Blueprint for Action) • Commitment to sustainable development through a set of four program areas. • 1) Promoting sustainable development through trade. • 2) Making trade and environment mutually supportive. • 3) Providing adequate financial resources to developing countries: • Committed to 0.7% of GNP. • Currently stands at around 0.5% of GNP for most European countries, Canada, and Japan. • Just 0.25% for the USA. • 4) Encouraging economic policies conducive to sustainable development

  21. 4 Environmental Globalism (1990s) • Kyoto Protocol • The Global Warming Treaty was not working. • 2000 goals would not achieved. • High profile meeting in Kyoto in 1997. • 160 nations formally adopted the protocol: • Legally committing industrial countries do reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions. • Reduce climate-altering gases by 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. • Developing countries, mainly China and India, objected: • Meeting the target would cripple their economies leaning on coal. • Developing countries were thus exempted.

  22. 4 Countries Having Ratified the Kyoto Protocol, 2004

  23. 4 Characteristics of the Kyoto Protocol

  24. 4 Total Carbon Emissions, 1900-1999 (in millions of tons)

  25. 4 Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions, 1995

  26. 5 Current Perspective: Reality Check • Perspective • Low or over valuation of the environment: • Consumers and environmental radicals. • Maximization of wealth and risk taking. • No limits to growth and problems can be overcome by technology. • Short term perspective. • Ostrich's approach? • Environmental divide • Between developing and developed countries. • Between Europe and the United States. • Economic growth becomes the dominant paradigm. • Clashes: Seattle (1999).

  27. 5 Current Perspective: Reality Check • Dependency • Societies are caught in the requirements they have created: • Economic growth. • Standard of living. • Mobility. • American response: • Would not contemplate any action that would hurt America's economy or restrict its access to energy. • “We must be very careful not to take actions that could harm consumers.” President Bush (2001). • Did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol (2001). • Shift of emphasis • Adaptation, more than prevention. • Cope with the consequences of GW instead of dealing with the sources.

  28. 5 Environmental Perception: Who Cares? Very Important World Global Warming Some Importance Nation Little Importance No Importance Air pollution Community Hazardous materials Family Week Year Lifetime Next Generation

  29. 5 Current Perspective: Reality Check • Environmentalism = Fascism? • Many environmentalists fell prey to irrationalism and fear mongering: • Self-righteousness and hatred of different ideas. • Moral decay: use of violence, deception and bio-terrorism to achieve goals. • Science is less part of the agenda: • Replaced by ideology and dogmatism. • Environmentalism takes away private property rights and freedom: • The goal is socialism / communism and control of the population. • Biocentrism: • Human beings are less important than nature. • Undermines human rights, freedom and dignity.

  30. B The Ecological Footprint • 1. Driving Forces • 2. The Vicious Circle • 3. The Ecological Footprint

  31. 1 Driving Forces • Context • Demographic growth. • Growing size of societies and communities. • Urbanization. • Technological development. • Increasing inequalities. • Larger levels of personal consumption. • Higher generation of wastes: • Several are difficult to be absorbed. • Growing impacts on the environment

  32. 1 Driving Forces • Population change • A world of 6.3 billion “consumers”. • Each addition of consumers generate more pressures on: • Food. • Water. • Energy. • Raw materials. • Space. • Comparable negative impact on the environment. • What will be the impacts of about 9 billion consumers by 2050?

  33. 1 Driving Forces • Promotion of economic growth • Market economies are based on economic expansion: • Growth of production (supply). • Growth of consumption (demand). • Issue reinforced by globalization. • Governments try to reinforce economic growth: • Elected for such a purpose. • Reversed if they “mismanage” the economy. • Consequences: • Depletion of nonrenewable resources. • Overuse of renewable resources. • Between 1995 and 1998 the world’s economic output exceeded the output from the beginning of history to 1900.

  34. Driving Forces 1 • Culture and belief systems • Consumerism incarnates materialistic values in human behavior. • Fulfillment derived from the accumulation of goods. • Expands the demand side of the market economy. • Lebow (commenting American consumerism): • “Our enormously productive economy … demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of good into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and ego satisfaction in consumption. … We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing rate.” • The United States has more malls than high schools; Americans spend more time shopping than reading. • Becoming the dominant global social paradigm.

  35. Fulfillment Curve 1 Other means Luxury Comfort Fulfillment Extravagance Survival Consumption

  36. 1 Driving Forces • Technology • Population growth, economic growth and consumerism existed, to various degrees, before the industrial revolution. • Technological developments have expanded the processes. • Technological growth often the result of resource depletion. • More efficient technologies also a factor of accelerated resource depletion. • So far, technology as been more a factor of resource depletion and environmental destruction than of conservation.

  37. 2 The Vicious Circle • Era of superdisasters • Climate change. • Deforestation. • Poverty. • Crowding. • Collision to create larger hazards • 1 billion people are living in shantytowns. • Several of the largest cities are at risk by earthquakes. • 50% of the global population lives along the coastline. • 10 million are at high risk of being flooded. • 96% of all causalities from natural disasters are in the Third World.

  38. 2 The Vicious Circle Poverty Population Environment Instability

  39. 2 The Vicious Circle • More children to compensate high mortality. • More children to help domestic tasks and cultivation. • Lack of protection in view of disease or old age. • Lack of education plays against family planning. • Women status and poverty forbid access to education. • Unemployment and low incomes, dilution of gain. • Division of property among several children. • Overburden of health and social services and utilities. Poverty Population

  40. 2 The Vicious Circle • Increase of pressures over marginal land, overexploitation, and deforestation. • Erosion and floods. • Increase use of fertilizers, pesticides and water. • Migration to shantytowns. • Erosion, salination and floods lower agricultural yields, employment and incomes. • Overpopulation increases health problems and lowers productivity. Population Environment

  41. 2 The Vicious Circle • Short term needs are a priority and forbids environmental protection. • Development wins over environmental issues. Poverty Environment

  42. 2 The Vicious Circle • Fall back of democracy, repression and dictatorship. • The army takes most of public spending. • Bad investment environment, loss of tourism incomes. • Disorganization of health and education services. • Disorganization of trade and limited development opportunities. • National and international resources towards urgencies. • Social divisions and political problems. • Refugees. • Terrorism? Instability

  43. 3 The Ecological Footprint • System processing inputs to produce outputs • Inputs: • Energy and raw materials. • Processes: • Energy and raw materials with labor and infrastructure. • Outputs: • Products, services and wastes. • Offers conditions (opportunities) to support its working conditions and insure its growth. • Fast growth can be seen as a disease (cancer). • Sustainability achieved through the reduction of inputs and outputs. Energy Raw materials Inputs Processes Outputs Products Services Wastes

  44. 3 Material Flow Cycle Resource supply Production and manufacturing Consumption Waste or losses Post-consumer discards Recycling Recycled flow Landfills, impoundments, Deep wells and ocean disposal Releases to air, land and water Sink Renewable and Nonrenewable resources

  45. 3 The Ecological Footprint • Concept • The environment is a sink. • Consideration of physical measures of environmental damage. • Evaluation of involved costs for the society. • Can be considered from economic, social and environmental dimensions. Sink Lithosphere Hydrosphere Atmosphere Ecosphere

  46. 3 The Sears Tower, Chicago • Features • Enclosed entity. • 1,700 feet high. • 110 stories. • 10,000 workers. • Energy • Consumes more energy than an American city of 150,000. • Consumes more energy than an Indian city of 1 million.

  47. 3 The Ecological Footprint • Impacts • Possible to measure the general impacts of human activities on the environment. • Impacts (I) = P*A*T • Where P is population, A is affluence (level of consumption) and T is technology. • The impacts must be lower than the carrying capacity of the world. Impacts Affluence Population Technology

  48. 3 The Ecological Footprint • Calculating the footprint • Keep track of most of the resources consumed and the wastes generated. • Converted to a biologically productive area necessary to provide these functions. • The footprint is not a continuous piece of land: • Due to international trade, the land and water areas used by most global citizens are scattered all over the planet.

  49. 3 Ecological Balance, 1993

  50. 3 Ecological Footprint and Capacity for Selected Countries, 1993 (in km2)