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Technology and the Environment

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1 Technology and the Environment
Chapter 15

2 The Nature of Technology
Langdon Winner and defining technology Three dimensions to technology: 1. Technological tools or apparatuses - the physical devices of technical performance Machines Gadgets 2.Technical skills - all activities or behaviors that employ a rational method of doing things

3 The Nature of Technology
Langdon Winner and defining technology Three dimensions to technology: 3. Organizational networks associated with activities and apparatus Technological change refers to changes in any of the three areas: Apparatus Activities Organization

4 Technological Dualism
Technological dualism refers to the fact that technological change often has both positive and negative impacts on people and society

5 Technology and Global Inequality
Technologies and the gap between the haves and have-nots United Nations report and the: Global Computing gap between rich and poor nations Communications gap between rich and poor nations On a global basis, only 18 percent of possible users currently have Internet access

6 The Digital Divide The digital divide is the gap between those with access to computers and the Internet and those without Poor families in the United States are less likely to be active on the Internet Access to computers and the Internet at schools has decreased the gap

7 Controlling Technology
Some critics of technology are convinced that it has become an autonomous force in society Autonomous technology: Winner and others have pointed out that technology has enmeshed us in a complex web of dependency Most sociologists do not see technology as autonomous: They argue that we have been drawn into the momentum of technological change, but are not sure where it is taking us

8 Automation Automation - the replacement of human workers with machines
Automation results in an increase in productivity in the economy with a decline in the number of workers to generate products Automation has resulted in a loss in manufacturing jobs

9 Whistle-Blowers Whistle-blowers are employees who call attention to the abuses of new technological systems Whistle-blowers often run the risk of negative sanctions from their place of employment Loss of job

10 Identity Theft - A Global Crime Wave in Cyberspace
Identity theft refers to the illegal possession of another person’s private account numbers and the use of those numbers for fraudulent purposes Much of the effort to develop ways of fighting identity theft focuses on increasing security for critical databases in government and the corporate sector

11 Bureaucracy and Morality
Bureaucratic organizations, by the nature of the system of organization, may produce unintended negative results Hierarchical authority structure Division of labor and narrowly defined roles Orientation to accomplishing specific goals Workers in organizations may not feel personally responsible for their actions

12 Bureaucracy and Morality
Stanley Milgram’s study of obedience to authority and overcoming moral obligations Should people be taught that disobedience to authority under some conditions is necessary?

13 Technology and Institutions
Technology has two major relationships to social institutions The adaptation of social institutions to changing technology The adaptation of technology to changing institutions William Ogburn and cultural lag Cultural lag happens when two parts of a culture change at uneven rates Fusion research is still in its early stages

14 Technology and Institutions
Transhumanism • Transhumanism is the very small but growing social movement that advocates the ethnical use of technologies to enhance human capabilities • Transhumanists are fascinated by the idea of the cyborg: a creature that is part human and part technological systems

15 Technology and the Natural Environment
There has been an increasing concern about the impact that technology has on the environment Speed of change in human civilization has been occurring faster than changes in the natural cycle of the environment Technology has accelerated the process of change

16 Technology and the Natural Environment
Two major factors have led to an increase in pollution and the depletion of natural resources 1.Accelerated technological and scientific change 2.Rapid population growth

17 Environmental Stress Environmental stress refers to what society does to the environment Environmental stress results from the relationship between three systems 1. The natural environment which is the interrelationship between air, minerals and the like 2. Technological system which includes farming, transportation and productive facilities 3. Social system which consists of our attitudes, values, beliefs and social institutions

18 Origins of the Problem Environmental pollution refers to agents added to the environment by society in quantities that are potentially dangerous to the ecosystem and human welfare Four concepts are related to the understanding of the problem of environmental stress 1. Interdependence – interrelatedness of everything

19 Origins of the Problem Four concepts are related to the understanding of the problem of environmental stress 2. Diversity - existence of different life and life support forms - the greater the diversity, the healthier the environment 3. Limits - three limits Limit to the growth of an organism Limit to population size as it relates to the carrying capacity of the environment Finite limit to the Earth’s resources

20 Origins of the Problem Four concepts are related to the understanding of the problem of environmental stress 4. Complexity refers to the intricacy of the relationships that constitute the ecological web The major difficulty with dealing with environmental stress is: The number of problems there are How the problems are interrelated

21 Air Pollution Primary types of air pollutants:
Organic compounds (hydrocarbons) Oxides of carbon Nitrogen and sulfur Lead and other metals Particulate matter Major source of carbon monoxide pollution is exhaust emissions from automobiles

22 Air Pollution Effects on Human Health
Air pollutants are related to the following health problems Bronchitis Emphysema Lung cancer Eye, nose, and throat irritation

23 Air Pollution Economic Effects Accelerated property deterioration
Crop loss Loss productivity due to worker illness Ecological Effects One ecological impact has been the effect that the use of fluorocarbon gases have had on the ozone layer in the atmosphere

24 Air Pollution Ecological Effects Depletion of the ozone could cause:
Increase in skin cancer Crop failure Change in the world’s climate Acid rain is another problem - refers to rainfall with excessive concentrations of sulfuric dioxide

25 Air Pollution Ecological Effects
Acid rain is largely the result of pollutants from utility and industrial plants Acid rain is especially harmful to Physical structures in cities Forest and plant life Aquatic life

26 Air Pollution The Global Warming Controversy
The “greenhouse effect,” or the increase in global temperatures Greenhouse gases are due in part to an increase in the burning of fossil fuels Radioactivity Nuclear power plant accidents

27 Water Pollution Water moves through a hydrologic cycle of continuous purification and use Affecting the hydrologic cycle leads to two major problems The amount of water available could be insufficient to meet demand The water available could be polluted

28 Water Pollution Sources of the problem
Increased demand for water by consumers and the dumping of pollutants into the water system Urban dwellers Industrial users Farmers Another form of water pollution is thermal pollution

29 Solid-Waste Disposal Dumping of solid waste into the environment
Two major sources Through the consumption process of goods Through the production process of goods In 2005 we disposed of over 410 million tons of waste Landfills Incinerators

30 Solid-Waste Disposal Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice
Environmental racism refers to the concentration of minority group neighborhoods around landfills and toxic dump sites Toxic Wastes Plastics Pesticides And other chemical products

31 Solid-Waste Disposal Radioactive Wastes
By-products from nuclear power plants and other sources

32 Other Hazards Land Degradation Deforestation of tropical rainforests
Clearing of rainforests for commercial use Desertification Overgrazing of land Dependence on wood for fuel Depletion of minerals from farming

33 Other Hazards Noise pollution
Noise pollution from technological advances Chemical Contamination and Globalization of the Food Supply Plastics and synthetics Vinyl chloride Chemical contamination of the global food supply is a growing social problem Large Scale Engineering Projects

34 The United States and the World Environment
The United States and consumption Affluence and pollution The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and consumes 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuel The U.S. produces 72 percent of the world’s hazardous waste

35 Social Policy Policy on Global Warming
United Nations and the Kyoto Protocol Reduction in carbon emissions United States under the Bush administration did not ratify the agreement

36 Social Policy Pollution Credits Science and Policy Making
The creation of markets to buy and sell pollution credits is a more conservative antipollution policy favored by the Bush administration and by many experts on global pollution problems Science and Policy Making There has been a great deal of conflict between the nation’s scientists and the Bush administration

37 Social Policy Appropriate technology is smaller-scale technology
Small scale technologies and reduction of environmental damage The appropriate technologists are often accused of advocating an impractical retreat to a simpler way of life Appropriate technologists reply that they do not oppose all technology, only large-scale technology that has unfavorable social consequences

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