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POST-INDUSTRIAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Your text points out two categories of environmental concerns of the post-Industrial era: pollution (for example: the “greenhouse effect”) and depletion (for example: extinction of plant and animal species). In describing these phenomena, the author uses words that are pejorative, such as “ruined environment,” and also implicitly takes the side of those who believe there is “global warming.” Do you think we were able to measure temperature accurately 100 years ago? How would you go about finding out? Use the Discussion to respond.
DEEP ECOLOGY VS THE CASE FOR HUMAN BEINGS
It’s important to recognize that there are different environmental philosophies, as well as different sets of “scientific data” to be evaluated. One predominant theme (essentially the one espoused by your text) is called “deep ecology” — the notion that humans have been at fault in assuming a privileged place on the planet. Deep ecologists claim that this anthropocentrism is the basis for reprehensible practices with respect to plants and animals and the non-human environment in general. Deep ecologists call for a return to the models of non-technical cultures for relating to the natural world. In their view, the development of science and technology has been responsible for producing a modern industrial state that is too violent, alienating, and potentially catastrophic for the planet.
Opposing this view are environmental philosophers who have made, instead, “a case for human beings,” in which they claim that apprehension about the disappearance of animal or plant species may be misplaced, that species death and extinction is going on all the time, is an essential feature of life, and pre-dates human “intervention.” Maybe it’s time to give up the idea of human beings as intruders, they suggest, and recognize that technological creativity contributes as much to diversity as the rain-forest orchid. Use the discussion section to take a position on either side of this debate. Note: positions that fall right in the middle are useless: when it comes to vote, there is no “other” category.
YuccaMtnFadedSometimes environmental concerns are their own worst enemy, as in the case of nuclear waste. We’ve had the technology for hazardous waste disposal, both military and commercial, for about 25 years. Extensive studies were done on waste treatment and deep burial in various environments. Studies were carried out on soils, on canisters, on transportation. Most of the studies were funded by the US goverment, and there was little disagreement among them about the best form of disposal. But because the public is worried about the hazards burying radioactive waste — leaching, water tables, and so on — it sits, instead, above ground, in pools near the reactors that generated it. It has been there for decades. Recently another regulatory step was taken toward solidifying the Yucca Mountain (Nevada) site for burial, a process that has already used up more than 20 years of paperwork.Check out this link, for example.
LyellThe planet earth, its resources and its position in space, have been the center of many scientific debates through the centuries. (We’ve already noted one, the Copernican Revolution, which displaced it from its position in the center of the universe.)
The age of the earth was the center of another significant revolution in thinking. Until the nineteenth century, it was believed that the earth was only a few thousand years old, and that the face of the earth was fixed: mountains, valleys, bodies of water were placed “as is” on the surface. Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) eventually succeeded in gaining acceptance for the theory that the earth as we know it was formed slowly over time – a contradiction to the biblical stories held by many to be factual.
below is Discussion question
Find the words and phrases that indicate the author is doing more than “reporting facts” on technology and the environment (e.g., the obvious one in the first paragraph: “…left a ruined environment.” OR do you think there is sufficient data on the issues (global warming, waste accumulation, air pollution, and so on) to support his judgment?
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Discipline: Science technology