The broader social process—the changing role of women in many societies—has even wider effects on energy use, but is still harder to capture in the figure. If not, is population growth a root cause of the degradation that follows, or merely an effect of more deeply underlying causes, such as changes in technology and social organization? For example, the relationships of population, economic development, and government policies to deforestation may be studied by comparing data with the nation-state as the unit of analysis (e.g., Rudel, 1989). We have identified some of the important areas in which more knowledge could add greatly to understanding of the causes of global change. For example, the global relationship between economic growth and greenhouse gas. To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter. It seems reasonable that the social institutions that control the exchange of goods and services and that structure the decisions of large human groups should have a strong influence on the effects of human activity on the global environment. c Projected atmospheric effects depend not only on total production but also on the balance between end uses. Social science knowledge is needed to choose accounting procedures to suit specific analytic purposes. Species with wide ranges are unlikely to be extinguished by habitat destruction within their range, but such destruction is likely to eliminate entirely the habitats of some of the species in the area with smaller ranges. An additive model of these relationships is not viable, so the study of single causal factors in isolation is misleading. Several conditions apply. Comparative studies offer the best way to get inside the broad concepts and identify more specifically the features of growth and change in human activity that drive environmental change. Short-sighted and self-interested ways of thinking can also act as underlying causes of environmental degradation. The state is a major institution affecting global environmental change because state actions modify economic institutions and affect a wide range of human actions, including those with global environmental impacts. zon projects against taxable income earned elsewhere (Browder, 1988). The unique institutional and political history of Brazil has helped determine the particular development pattern there, a pattern significantly different from that of tropical forest development in Zaire or Indonesia (Allen and Barnes, 1985; Brookfield et al., 1991; Lal et al., 1986). 5. This condition may be easier to meet than the condi-. lyze an activity such as automobile fuel consumption, and the most useful approach is not obvious a priori. However, researchers should be aware of their limitations and should occasionally test their analyses against a variety of scenarios of future human contributions to global change. Both natural processes and human activities result in emissions of greenhouse gases. TABLE 3-7 The Most Energy-intensive Economies in the World, 1987. be applied to office buildings and finally to residences as well. The transformation of forest into inferior, rapidly degrading pasture was not inevitable. By the time roads are constructed, most state land in the Amazon is already claimed (Binswanger, 1989). The rapid increase in Chinese coal consumption—from 62 million tons (Mt) in 1952 to 812 Mt in 1985—can be traced to industrialization, electrification, and population growth (Xi et al., 1989). Quantitative models will be of limited predictive value, especially for the decades-to-centuries time frame, without better knowledge of the processes. CFCs, initially developed to support a limited set of end uses in the refrigeration industry, have changed not only that industry but also significant aspects of human civilization. What is most important, however, is that this evidence is hard to refute. In addition, policy responses, particularly mitigation responses, require understanding of the activities that drive global change at the level at which the responses will be made. The highest priority for research is to build understanding of the processes connecting human activity and environmental change. For places: economic growth has been more dependent on fossil-fuel energy in China than in other countries, even other developing countries; the causes of deforestation in Brazil are distinct from its causes in other countries. Three case studies illustrate the various ways h… Paleoclimatology can answer the question of anthropogenic climate change by using fossils to show links between global temperatures and CO2 levels, Seeing evidence of man-made climate change is difficult ‘when the details are buried under thousands of lines of computer code which implement algorithms of mind-numbing complexity'. Can population growth occur without major environmental damage? The most widely used definition of biological diversity includes three levels: genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity (Norse et al., 1986; U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1987). The scientific evidence suggests that it is highly likely that humans are causing global warming. Comparisons between countries or localities or of the same place at different time periods can show why some social systems produce as much human welfare as others with less adverse impact on the global environment. Vocal arguments have been made for each of these as the exclusive, or the primary, human influence on global environmental change. But this projection is uncertain because of incomplete knowledge about the causes of that transition and the ways it might be altered by deliberate action. Under these conditions the relative gap between per capita income in developing and developed countries would narrow, but the absolute gap would increase substantially. But if fertility declines as fast throughout. Source: Calculated from World Resources Institute and International Institute for Environment and Development (1988:Table 7.4). The various driving forces should be studied in combination, using multivariate research approaches. Third, goods that have no price, whose production is highly uncertain, or that are valued by nonparticipants in markets, for instance, the survival of nonhuman species, tend to be systematically undervalued in markets (e.g., Krutilla and Fisher, 1975). Is it a coincidence that, at the time, it was so warm that crocodiles were living within the Arctic circle? The PowerPoint is clearly structured with; - A starter to assess prior knowledge - focus here is on natural causes of climate change, then after the introduction of learning objectives another to assess prior knowledge of human causes of climate change. called climate change. Theory about these relationships is relatively weak, but the problem is of active interest to social scientists in several disciplines. But markets in nonrenewable resources are no panacea for the environmental effects of minerals extraction or fossil energy use. Despite these limitations, the accounting tree is useful as a preliminary check on the likely impact of a major social variable. An early estimate of the 100-year global warming potential of gas emissions in 1990 allocates it as follows: CO2, 61%; CH4, 15%; CFCs, 12%; N2O, 4%; other gases (NOx, nonmethane hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide), 8% (Shine et al., 1990). Such an accounting system is helpful for social science because, by beginning with variables known to be important to global environmental change, it anchors the study of human activities to the natural environment and imposes a criterion of impact on the consideration of research directions (see also Clark, 1988). The history of CFCs demonstrates, above all else, that human activities can have quite unexpected long-term effects on the environment. For instance, technological progress is affected by the relative prices of energy, materials, and labor, with inventors and entrepreneurs having a built-in incentive to develop technologies that economize on the more expensive factors of production. Researchers might then investigate the social factors that affect change in the number of automobiles and their typical life span, such as household income, household size, number employed per household, and availability of public transportation. CFC 22 production doubled between 1977 and 1984 (e.g., fast-food packaging), as did CFC 113 production (electronics industry). So how can we trust that the computer models scientists use to make predictions are reliable? For instance, the 1988 constitution provides that land ''in effective use,'' that is, cleared, cannot be expropriated for the purpose of agrarian reform (Hecht, 1989b). There are barriers to a transition to a mixed-development strategy in the Amazon. Recently, disappointing economic returns, declining international aid, and an awareness of rapid ecological deterioration are becoming associated with changing priorities, and analysts in the World Bank and elsewhere are becoming critical of the old development philosophy (Binswanger, 1989; Mahar, 1988; Schneider, 1990). Some researchers argue that a secular change in basic values is occurring in many modern societies. b Percentage of 100-year effects of all 1990 halocarbon emissions. land use with deforestation is likely to remain the most economically feasible and politically viable development strategy in the Amazon region because vast areas of cheap land are accessible and markets are distant. Research on the processes by which human actions cause environmental change should begin from the basic principle that the relationships are contingent: the effect of such variables as population on environmental quality depends on other human variables that change over time and place. A time history of atmospheric carbon dioxide (credit: Andy Jacobson, CIRES/NOAA) We produce greenhouse gases in lots of different ways: 1. ), purposes (locomotion, space heating, etc. Fiscal incentives for livestock raising have largely dried up since 1985, but the cattle population has continued to grow at an annual rate of 8 percent (Schneider, 1990), suggesting that profit can now be made without subsidies, partly from the appreciation of land values (Binswanger, 1989). Economic growth also depletes the stock of nonrenewable natural resources such as coal, oil, natural gas, and metallic minerals and, in some cases, the stock of renewable resources as well, as when the rate of soil erosion exceeds the rate of restoration of soil and nutrients. One objection might be that ancient climate change is really evidence for varying solar brightness. All the relationships are equally real and important, yet answers derived at each level are incomplete. the developing world as it has in a few developing countries, this growth might be reduced by almost 2 billion people by the time that the population of the developing world would otherwise have reached 8 billion (World Bank, 1984). The analysis that traces environmental degradation to the absence of free markets is criticized on several grounds. To the extent that per capita income aspirations in the developing countries are driven by comparison of their incomes with those in developed countries, aspirations for additional income growth in the developing countries may be even stronger in 50 years than they are now. Under those conditions, an individual or functional group of individuals with a large area requirement is less likely to find adequate forest resources. (1990:Table 2.7), assuming a "business-as-usual" scenario with a coal-intensive energy supply, continued deforestation and associated emissions, and partial control of CO and CFC emissions. We conclude by stating some principles that follow from current knowledge and some implications for research. Paleoclimatology – the study of Earth's past climates – has used fossils to show links between global temperatures and carbon-dioxide levels. 7 days ago. The Command Economy The practice of government-dictated production, combined with the price structure, allows highly inefficient enterprises to continue operating despite financial losses. 2. Although China cannot be expected to increase its energy productivity 2.5 times to India's level—the ample availability of low-cost coal in China gives it less incentive to economize on energy—it seems to have room for huge improvements in efficiency. Some observers believe the goals can be met only after continued economic liberalization, including price reform and market incentives, and political reforms that would overhaul wasteful management practices and attract needed foreign technology, expertise, and capital (e.g., Smil, 1988). We briefly outline the evidence supporting and qualifying claims that each class of variable is an independent influence on global environmental change. The mechanism is rather complex. For example, in 1986 a National Research Council study committee composed of economists and demographers concluded that slower population growth might assist less-developed countries in developing policies and institutions to protect the environment, but could find little empirical work on the link between population growth and environmental degradation (National Research Council, 1986). Unfortunately, that is difficult when the details are buried under hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code which implement mathematical algorithms of mind-numbing complexity. (Browder, 1988; Moran, 1976, 1990). Ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth’s poles. The government, which determines production by directive rather than allowing it to respond to demand, is said to continue to command steel production, despite huge surpluses (Smil, 1988, and personal communication). coal reserves, after the Soviet Union and the United States, but is very limited in reserves of other fossil fuels (Xi et al., 1989) and lacks the capital for major investments in nuclear power or development of its large, but inconveniently located, hydroelectric potential. The estimation of the global warming potential of currently emitted gases is quite uncertain due to incomplete knowledge of the relevant atmospheric chemistry. In general, the species hardest hit are likely to be the ones with large area requirements, narrow ranges, or value to humans for food, medicine, or timber, yet the entire taxonomic spectrum may suffer major losses.3 Some threatened species may be important to the region's economy and culture, some are used far beyond the Amazon Basin, and some have potential value to humans that is not yet known. Enterprises that could compete by using energy more efficiently do not have incentives to do so. That is why Thomas Midgely Jr.'s 1931 invention of Freon 12 represented a revolution for the refrigeration industry. The book focuses on establishing a framework for this new field of study, identifying problems that must be overcome if we are to deepen our understanding of the human dimensions of global change, presenting conclusions and recommendations. Climate change is a term that refers to major changes in temperature, rainfall, snow, or wind patterns lasting for decades or longer. moving from a concern with important changes in the environment to the identification of the human activities that most seriously affect those changes. As a result, technological development starting in countries with low-cost energy will be more energy intensive than technologies developed in countries in which energy is expensive and therefore more likely to have negative environmental effects. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb heat radiation. ), types of actor (households, firms, governments), types of decisions determining the activity (design, purchase, utilization of equipment), or in other ways. Another involves diffusion of production technologies across national boundaries, particularly from more-developed to less-developed countries: How do the environmental impacts differ between the innovating countries and the adopting countries, and how do the differences depend on the social organizations using the technologies (e.g., Covello and Frey, 1989)? tions for managing wastes because it is much easier to establish clear, enforceable property rights in nonrenewable resources and because such property rights permit creation of markets that provide price signals of changing resource scarcity and incentives to take future as well as current resource values into account. As tree diagrams move from the trunk out toward the branches and twigs, analysis depends more on social science. Widely shared cultural beliefs and attitudes can also function as root causes of global environmental change. Source: U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1991. Table 3-7 offers a rough guide to the amount of inefficiency a command economy can produce. And finally, there are intrinsic social limits. Aggregate studies at the global level have limited value because the small number of data points make it impossible to identify the contingent relationships that shape the proximate human causes of global change. If excellent data sets are compiled, the problem of connecting levels of analysis may attract leading disciplinary researchers to the topic of global change to build theory that would aid in understanding it while advancing their own fields. Almost no one has responded to the ozone hole by suggesting a retreat from these fundamental technologies of modern life: al-. View our suggested citation for this chapter. Systemic approaches have greater value in principle, but few human activities have the kind of systemic character that makes general circulation models of atmospheric processes valuable. 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