Industrialization, Economics, And The Environment Essay

1938 words - 8 pages

Industrialization, Economics, and the Environment

Human technological advancements make it possible to sustain larger and larger population by exploiting more and more natural resources. The three revolutions in human history, agricultural, industrial and green have all been answers to overpopulation. Naturally, industrialization leads to environmental degradation. The concern with Industrialization is that it is not a long term solution to human sustainability, since it operates under the premise of the tech fix, or the idea that humans will be able to invent new technologies to ensure their own survival. These solutions, while economically advantageous, do not consider the long term impacts of this continual and escalating intensification or resource use and extraction; indeed they suppose an exhaustibility of possibilities. However, the role human nature plays in determining these attitudes and actions which support this system is not insignificant, and is the key which will decide how the future plays out.

What is industrialization? defines industrialism as, "An economic and social system based on the development of large-scale industries and marked by the production of large quantities of inexpensive manufactured goods and the concentration of employment in urban factories". This definition ignores the environmental aspect of industrialism; industrialization pushes the threshold of earth's resource availability. Such demanding management of the natural world is justified in the name of prioritizing immediate human needs over long term sustainability. However, the main environmental impacts of industrialization are those caused by consumption and population growth, which are both culturally malleable manifestations.

Is industrialization even necessary?

As the population of the world has risen exponentially humans have had to develop coping mechanisms, namely industrialization and agricultural technologies. "Over the period of the last two centuries, the curve of human population growth has departed from the normal S-shape because of man's ability to alter his environment." "With fixed environmental limits the population curve will follow an S shape like curve B in our figure." (Dolan 58)"

If humans have not taken it upon themselves to manipulate nature, the population would not have risen to where it is now.
However, if one subscribes to the Gaia Hypothesis, which views earth a self regulating organism with a certain threshold for abuse, there is the possibility that we could "exhaust the technological possibilities for further raising the population ceiling (Dolan 59)." The result would be what we have been trying to prevent all along, and mass starvation would ensue, thus fulfilling the Malthusian Scenario. However, at the present time, the only solution to overpopulation, industrialization is only a "tech fix."

Overpopulation itself is the result of a lack of long term vision, so it is not...

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