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“Because we are the cause of our environmental problems, we are the ones in control of them, and we can choose or not choose to stop causing them and start solving them. The future is up for grabs, lying in our own hands. We don’t need new technologies to solve our problems; while new technologies can make some contribution, for the most part we ‘just’ need the political will to apply solutions already available” [Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, 2005: 521-522].
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all” [Ban Ki-moon]
Environmental sociology is the sociological study of the relationship between society and environment. Environmental sociologists are studying (i) the social factors that cause environmental problems, (ii) the societal impacts of those problems, and (iii) the efforts to solve the problems.
The most important topic of research among environmental sociologists today is climate change. Sociologists investigate the human, economic, and political causes of climate change, and the effects that climate change has on many aspects of social life, like behavior, culture, values, and the economic health of populations experiencing its effects. A key analytic focus within this subfield is the particular effects that a capitalist economy has on the environment.
Another important area of focus among environmental sociologists is the relationship between inequality and environment. Numerous studies have documented that income, racial, and gender inequality make the populations that experience them more likely to experience negative environmental outcomes like pollution, proximity to waste, and lack of access to natural resources.
Ecocide / Ecocatastrophe
Green politics / Ecopolitics
Ecotage Environmental justice
Religion and environmentalism
Global warming/Climate change
Water use/Water footprint
Human right to water & sanitation
|Books and Articles|
The agribusiness/food sector is the second most profitable industry following pharmaceuticals. Contributing to its profitability are the breathtaking strides in biotechnology coupled with the growing concentration of ownership and control by food’s largest corporations. Everything, from decisions on which foods are produced, to how they are processed, distributed, and marketed is dictated by a select few giants wielding enormous power.
Although there are still a large number of independent petty producers, their powers of decision-making have been weakened to the point where they resemble workers. In the past, farmers could make choices about the physical process of farm production, including what was grown and how much, and what inputs were to be used. Farmers were traditionally potential competitors with the commercial providers of inputs because they could choose to produce seed, traction power, and fertilisers themselves.
Today, the agri-food business industry has taken away these choices from the farmers. Even though they are technically the owners of the means of production such as land, farmers have lost control over the labour process and they are also alienated from the product, as they are not free to sell it as they wish. More and more farmers are forced to adopt new technologies and strategies with consequences potentially harmful to the environment, our health, and the quality of our lives. The role played by trade institutions like the World Trade Organization, serves only to make matters worse.
Industrialised agriculture, intensive animal husbandry methods, and overfishing are destroying traditional farming, poisoning the planet and all living beings. Subsidised exports, artificially low prices, and constant dumping are increasing food insecurity and making people dependent on food they are unable to produce. The depletion of global grain stocks has increased market instability, to the detriment of small producers. Family farmers and vulnerable people are forced under International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies to pay the price of structural adjustment and debt repayment. Official corruption erodes all efforts to achieve food security.
The paradox of capitalist agriculture persists: ever-greater numbers remain hungry and malnourished despite an increase in world food supplies and the perpetuation of food overproduction. Hunger proliferates in the midst of plenty. Our environmental, social, and economic problems are strongly intertwined with the structure of global agriculture.
There is a growing public concern over food safety and controversial developments in agricultural biotechnology including genetically engineered foods. Much of the research on biotechnology is being undertaken in private laboratories with very little public control or input. Public access to information and public debate on technology policy is one way of democratising control over research. We need to develop systems of surveillance and safety and norms for the application of biotechnology.
Farmers, farmworkers, environmental and sustainable agriculture groups as well as consumers are engaged in the struggle to create a just and environmentally sound food system which.
Eviatar Zerubavel analysed the sociological perspective of co-denial that assumes mutual avoidance. As the foremost expression of co-denial, silence is a collective endeavour, and it involves a collaborative effort on the parts of both the potential generator and recipient of a given piece of information to stay away from it. The walls of silence are often more than double, since the number of those who participate in such conspiracies is by no means limited to two. Silent bystanders act as enablers.
Conspiracies of silence exist at every level of society, ranging from small groups to large corporations, from personal friendships to politics. Social pressures cause people to deny what is right before their eyes. Each conspirator’ s denial is symbiotically complemented by the others’. Silence is usually more intense when there are more people conspiring — and especially when there are significant power differences among them.
The longer we ignore ‘elephants’, the larger they loom in our minds, as each avoidance triggers an even greater spiral of denial. The intensity of silence is influenced not only by the number of people who conspire to maintain it, but also by the length of time they manage to do so [Eviatar Zerubavel, The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life. Oxford University Press. October 31, 2007.
Water scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people —almost one-fifth of the world’s population— live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people —almost one quarter of the world’s population— face economic water shortage, because countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers. Two-thirds of the global population (4.0 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round. Half of the world’s largest cities experience water scarcity.
Water scarcity is both a natural and a human-made phenomenon. There is enough freshwater on the planet for seven billion people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.
“If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water — unless we change our approach to managing this precious and vital resource” [Ismail Serageldin, Vice President of the World Bank. August 1995]
|Journals, Magazines, Newspapers and NewsLetters|
Mobile connectivity and social networking apps offers a huge boost in helping environmentally conscious individuals or groups to spread important new ideas about preserving the health of our planet further, faster and with more urgency than ever before. Mobile Eco Apps do good for the planet or people, save nature resources), and replace a hard good with a digital ones.
The huge range of interactive tools that millions of people download and use everywhere they go (life tracker apps) are helping people across the globe to connect, share news, respond to real-time feedback and trade tips on reducing our environmental impact as we go about our daily routines.
We can use digital mobile eco apps to track and tweak every aspect of our non-digital lives. People can post about what they notice changing in the environment and the impacts. These posts synchronized with weather and climate data and broadcast to the community to investigate bigger picture climate trends.
The huge and growing eco-apps market is making a significant contribution to the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants. Ecologically oriented apps are organized around a number of categories including air and water quality, transportation, energy, education (games), consumer information, food and visualizations and chemicals.
AIR, WATER AND SOIL QUALITY
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dr. Albert Benschop
Social & Behavioral Studies
University of Amsterdam
|Last modified||24th February, 2018|