Talking about global environmental issues need not be an exercise in gloom, doom, and individual sacrifice – as Michael Carolan ably demonstrates in this introduction to environmental sociology. Society and the Environment examines today's environmental controversies within a socio-organizational context. After outlining the contours of "pragmatic environmentalism," Carolan explores the material world: air, water, biodiversity, and trash. He considers the pressures that exist where ecology and society collide, such as population growth and its associated increased demands for food and energy. Finally, he drills into the social/structural dynamics – including political economy and the international legal system – that create ongoing momentum for environmental ills.
This interdisciplinary text features a three-part structure in each chapter that covers "fast facts" about the issue at hand, examines its wide-ranging implications, and offers pragmatic consideration of possible real-world solutions. Bolstering the analysis, a variety of boxes highlight relevant case studies as well as the value judgments which lurk everywhere in talk about environmental phenomena. Discussion questions and key terms enhance the text's usefulness, making Society and the Environment the perfect learning tool for courses on environmental sociology.
1. Introduction: Individuals, Societies, and Pragmatic Environmentalism
PART I -- LIVING IN A MATERIAL WORLD
2. Greenhouse Gasses: Warmer Isn't Better
3. Waste: Our Sinks Are Almost Sunk
4. Biodiversity: Society Wouldn't Exist Without It
5. Water: There's No Substitute
PART II -- AT THE INTERSECTION OF ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY
6. Population: A Problem of Quantity or Quality
7. Transportation: Beyond Air Pollution
8. Food: From Farm to Fork
9. Energy Production: Our Sun-ny Prospects
PART III -- ORGANIZING A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY
10. Political Economy: Making Markets Fair and Sustainable
11. Governance: Biases and Blind Spots
12. Inequality and Growth: Prosperity for All
13. From Our Beliefs to Our Behaviors: Pragmatic Environmentalism in Action
Michael Carolan is a professor at Colorado State University and chair of the department of sociology. His books include A Sociological Look at Biofuels, The Sociology of Food and Agriculture, The Real Cost of Cheap Food, Embodied Food Politics, Decentering Biotechnology, and Cheaponomics.