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The Environmental Crisis
Michael Itagaki
Sociology 102, Social Problems
The Environment: Global
Warming/Climate Change

“An Inconvenient Truth”



Rising carbon dioxide levels
Correspond with rising temperatures
Ramifications?



Water: stronger storms/drought
Artic/Greenland: sea level
Climate: ecological niches
The Environment:
Global Warming

“An Inconvenient Truth”


Handout: 10 things to do, online
We have technology/resources to
reduce our CO2 output and thus
slow global warming process.
The Environment:
Global Warming

“An Inconvenient Truth”


What was a surprising/shocking
fact in the film?
What can we do?
Discussion:
“An Inconvenient Truth”

Confronted with these issues


How does it make you feel about our planet?
What are some practical things we can do?
The Environment:
Global Warming

“An Inconvenient Truth”
 Intergovernmental
 Increase
Panel on Climate Change
in temperatures caused by greenhouse
gases
 Temperature and sea levels will rise regardless
 Sea levels will likely rise 7”-23”
The Environment:
Global Warming

“An Inconvenient Truth”
 Caveats
to consider
 CO2 influence
temperature?
 Temperature influence CO2 ?
 Both
The Environment:
Global Warming

“An Inconvenient Truth”
 So
what do you want to do?
 Informed decisions
 Do you believe you can make a difference?
The Problem in
Sociological Perspective

On-going destruction of our environment



Prehistoric times: Burn forests
Mesopotamia: River irrigation
Mayans: Clearing of trees, soil erosion
The Problem in
Sociological Perspective



Parable of the tragedy of the commons
(p. 457)
Is our world’s “pasture” limited?
A rationalization to continue our own selfdestructive behavior?
The Scope of the Problem

Global scope of environmental problem


Interconnectedness
“An Inconvenient Truth”
The Scope of the Problem

Pollution



Accumulation in air, water, land of
substances harmful to living things
Presence of substances that interfere with
socially desired uses of air, water, land or
food
Social definition of pollution: What people
say and believe is pollution
The Scope of the Problem

Pollution



Pollutants introduced at exponential rate
Earth’s finite capacity to absorb pollutants
Long delay between introduction of
pollutant and indication of harm to
environment
Symbolic Interactionism

How did the environment become a social
problem?

Conservation movement
Symbolic Interactionism

How did the environment become a social
problem?


Conservation movement
Shift to environmental concern




Professionals/interest groups
Government agencies
News media
Public
Symbolic Interactionism

Ecosystem


Interconnected system on the earth
Now, how do we connect to future?
Functionalism



Global System: Interconnectedness
Ecosystem: Living organism
Dysfunctions of Industrialization
Conflict Theory

Environmental Groups vs. Polluters




Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation
Industrial, corporate entities
“Corporate Welfare” (p. 463)
Power of U.S. Industry

Environmental injustice
Research Findings

Air Pollution

Fossil fuels


Waste incineration


Autos/electricity
PCBs
Flourocarbon gases

Damage to ozone expected to be repaired
Research Findings

Global warming


Potential effects (p. 465)
Difference of opinion (Henslin)
One claim: Increase in CO2 will lower sea
levels
 More CO2 will increase plant growth?
 National Academy of Sciences confirms
threat of greenhouse effect

Discussion:
“An Inconvenient Truth”

Confronted with these issues


How does it make you feel about our planet?
What are some practical things we can do?