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Environment, Development and

Climate Change
GS F212
Environment, Development
and Climate Change

will explore the relationship between human societies

and the larger natural environment

the environmental issues we face are almost always

profoundly social issues..

Sociology points us beyond technical and scientific

issues to the social roots of contemporary ecological

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Relation between Society and Environment

all the things which affect our life or activity
a complex phenomenon and consists of various forms such as

physical environment (the geographical, the climatic and the controlled

geographical environment)

biological environment (plant and animals)

social environment (economic, cultural and psycho-social environments)

supra-social environment (God or supernatural power)

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Physical Environment

Natural - uncontrollable like sun and stars, the

winds and rains, the mountains and the seas,
the seasons, the tides and the ocean currents

Artificial- can be modified(even slightly). lands

,the rivers streams.etc

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Influence of Physical

Geographical environment parameters influenced

Economic life,
political & social life
Growth of civilization has minimised the
influence of physical environment
Man cannot be regarded as natures slave.
Man modifies his physical environment rather than
environment modifies man.
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Physical Environment

Geographical environment alone cannot

determine the progress of civilization

It can only define and decide some of its


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The Social Environment

Consists of three kinds of environment,



Psycho-social environments

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The Social Environment

Life and character of the society have always been

responsive to economic environment

Karl Marx had asserted that the economic environment is

the primary determinant of all social change

But mere economic goods are not an ultimate end of

mens Endeavour
Men do seek health or happiness or knowledge or art for
the direct satisfaction

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The Social Environment

The cultural environment includes the customs, traditions,

laws, modes of thought and forms of knowledge and

sex-relationship, ownership, comradeship, the exchange

of services and goods is ordered, supported and
controlled by elaborate system of usage known as

There are laws which the regulations enforced by some

are constituted authority.

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The Social Environment

Psychosocial factors such as

job control
is associated with physical health

It is the most pervasive of all the environments and is so

necessary to the life of a man

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Economic growth was regarded as central

to the development endeavors up to the
Now, Multidimensional concept which
should encompass material, social,
environmental, political and cultural
components- sustainable development

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Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited places on earth.

Only some 150 square miles in area, it lies in the Pacific Ocean,
2,000 miles off the west coast of South America and 1250 miles
from the nearest inhabitable land of Pitcairn Island.

Despite its superficial insignificance, the history of Easter

Island is a grim warning to the world.

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Easter Islands Collapse

According to radiocarbon dating, Polynesians settled

Easter Island, located in a remote part of the Southeast
Pacific Ocean, around 900 AD.

It is the story of a people who, starting from an extremely

limited resource base, constructed one of the most
advanced societies in the world for the technology they
had available

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Easter Islands Collapse

The society was stratified into various factions of chiefs

and commoners, splitting the island into multiple
territories designated by giant stone statues
termed moai, 113 of which stand today.

However, the demands placed on the environment of the

island by this development were immense.

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Easter Islands Collapse

The most striking story of Easter Island, however, is its

Easter Island is one of the most extreme examples of
deforestation in the world: the entire forest is gone and
all tree species extinct.
Evidence suggests forest harvesting started around
900AD and peaked in 1400AD.
By the time Easter Island was discovered by Dutch
explorer Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Day (5 April) in
1722 it was completely deforested

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Easter Islands Collapse

What followed was a catastrophe of untold proportions:

without trees the ecosystem collapsed

without ecosystem functions, food and fresh water

quickly diminished

without trees, escape boats were not built

since escape was impossible resource infighting

occurred, until only a fraction of the population remained.

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Easter Islands Collapse

A striking example of the dependence of human societies

on their environment and of the consequences of
irreversibly damaging that environment

the story still draws an unsettling parallel to

contemporary global ecological destruction

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Climate change and the
collapse of civilizations
Civilization Issue
Akkadian Empire (2,170 BC) Established between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Collapsed because climate change destroyed its agricultural
base. Cooling of the North Atlantic Ocean influence rainfall in
the Middle East.

Mayan Civilization (900 AD) Located in the Yucatan Peninsula. Collapsed after 200 years of
lower precipitations.

Roanoke settlement, North First permanent British colony vanished after 4 years.
America (1587) Corresponded to the worst drought on the East Coast in 700

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Environmental Paradigms

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Why have some societies treated their environment differently
than others?
What makes the way modern societies interact with their
environment different from the way earlier ones did?

Is it technology and industrialization?

Is it our economic system?
Is it too much or too little democracy?
Does religion or culture make a difference?
Does science help, or is it actually part of the problem?

How do power and status affect whose ideas about natural

resources are given priority?
who actually suffers the effects of pollution, toxic waste, loss
of biodiversity, and environmental degradation?

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Conservationism-early form of environmentalism that

flourished in the first decades of the twentieth century.
focused on the wise and efficient use of natural
Preservationism focused on protecting specially
designated nonresidential areas

the preservationist strand of the conservationist

movement was an important precursor to the modern
environmental movement.

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Environmental Movements
(1960s and 1970s)
Rising affluence Growth of leisure and tourism (pristine environments).

Rising levels of Better-educated people developed greater awareness of

education environmental problems
Environmental Many environmental organizations founded. National Wildlife
organizations Federation (1936); United Nations Environment Programme
(1972); WorldWatch (1974).
Pollution Water pollution, waste disposal and acid rain became the first
widely noticed hazards
Scientific evidence Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962) and The Population
Bomb by Paul Ehrlich (1968)
Politics Decade when environmental issues began to become
politicized. Green parties: Political parties focusing primarily on
environmental issues

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Silent Spring

Every once in a while in the history of mankind, a book has

appeared which has substantially altered the course of
history, Senator Ernest Gruening, a Democrat from

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Silent Spring

Silent Spring presents a view of nature

compromised by synthetic pesticides, especially

pesticides entered the biosphere, they not only

killed bugs but also made their way up the food
chain to threaten bird and fish populations and
could eventually sicken children

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Silent Spring

On June 4, 1963, Rachel Carson,

testified before a Senate subcommittee
on pesticides
She was 56 and dying of breast cancer.
Shed already survived a radical
Her pelvis was so riddled with fractures
To hide her baldness, she wore a dark
brown wig.

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Environmentalism and the Global

Carried the roots of environmentalism beyond local and national scales to the global
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.

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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(1987)
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
Sustainable development of species and ecosystems

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Environmental Globalism
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
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.
Role of obstructionist.
Objected to any negative references concerning
consumption patterns in the developed countries.
Had the most to lose.

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Agenda 21(Blueprint for Action)

Commitment to sustainable development through a set of four program


1) Promoting sustainable development through

2) Making trade and environment mutually
3) Providing adequate financial resources to
developing countries:
4) Encouraging economic policies conducive to
sustainable development

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Environmental Globalism
An important achievement of the summit was an agreement on the Climate
Change Convention which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol

recognized that CO2 emissions are warming the planet

- stabilize CO2 at "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic

interference with the climate system.

- requires precise and regularly updated inventories of greenhouse gas

emissions from industrialized countries

-"Parties to the Convention agree to develop national programs

to slow climate change; meet at Conference of Parties (COPs)
where binding international treaties (i.e. Kyoto) can be made

- establishes a "framework" document -- something to be amended

or augmented over time

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The Kyoto Protocol - background

1992: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

- places the heaviest burden for fighting climate change on

industrialized nations

- general target: collectively reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2000

(but no mechanisms, enforcement proposed)

- support developing countries climate change activities

- developing countries emissions will grow before they shrink

- developing countries will have largest climate change impacts; work to


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Kyoto Protocol

negotiated in 1997
open for signature in 1998
came into force February 16, 2005
160 nations formally adopted the protocol

Developing countries, mainly China and India, objected exempted

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Kyoto Protocol-Highlights

Reduce climate-altering gases ( Carbon dioxide,Methane

,Nitrous oxide,Hydrofluorocarbons ,Perfluorocarbons ,Sulphur
hexafluoride ) by 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008
and 2012.

Compared to the emissions levels that would be expected by

2010 without the Protocol, this target represents a 29% cut.

National targets range from

8% reductions for the European Union ,
7% for the US
6% for Japan
0% for Russia
permitted increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland.

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Kyoto Protocol-Highlights

Non-compliant countries will have to reduce emissions by
1.3 units for every unit of emissions overshoot in
subsequent commitment period.

Ex: if your emissions target is 7Gtons per year by 2012,

and you end up at 10Gtons/yr, in the next commitment
period (2013-2020)
will have to reduce by 4Gtons/yr (in addition to any new
targets) to be compliant

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Kyoto Protocol

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Kyoto Protocol

The Protocol defines three "flexibility mechanisms" that can

be used by parties in meeting their emission limitation
International Emissions Trading (IET)

the Clean Development Mechanism(CDM)

Joint Implementation(JI)

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Kyoto Protocol

International Emissions Trading (IET)

If participant countries continue with emissions above

the targets, then they are required to engage in
emissions trading;

i.e. buying "credits" from other participant countries who

are able to exceed their reduction targets in order to

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Joint Implementation

Country can invest in an emission reduction project in any

other (Annex I) country as an alternative to reducing
emissions domestically.

In this way countries can lower the costs of complying

with their Kyoto targets by investing in projects that
reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an Annex I country
where reducing emissions may be cheaper

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The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

Promotes clean development in developing


allows developed countries to invest in

sustainable development projects (excl. nukes)
in developing countries

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Kyoto Protocol

169 countries have ratified the agreement.

Of the signatories, only 2 refused to ratify Kyoto up until
December of 2007 - Australia and the USA.

Note: Aus was allowed an 8% increase in emissions

Australia holds the shameful record for the highest amount of carbon
dioxide emissions per person.
USA, the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in total of any country.
US signed in 1998 (Clinton) but withdrew in in 2001
emissions targets arbitrary and not based on science
protocol's binding limits on emissions could harm the U.S. economy
Several big emitter countries, such as China (the number 2 emitter)
and India (number 6) are totally exempted

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Kyoto Protocol

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Kyoto - success or failure?

even before the 2008-2012 (averaging period ), carbon

dioxide levels in the atmosphere were rising at a
frightening rate with no sign of slowing.
Global temperatures are continuing to rise.

The scientific basis behind Kyoto is shaky

Without the USA ratifying the protocol or recently
emerging economic powerhouses such as China
reducing emissions drastically; the targets will likely not
be met.

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