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Food


This chapter discussed food shortages earlier as a population problem, but food can also be an environmental hazard. Simply put, food is often unsafe to eat. In 2011, at least 31 Europeans died from a rare strain of E. coli, a deadly bacterium, and more than 3,000 became very ill; the culprit was contaminated bean sprouts (CNN, 2011). [42] According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 325,000 Americans are hospitalized annually because of illnesses contracted from contaminated food, and 5,000 Americans die each year from these illnesses (Kristof, 2011). [43]

The deadly bacteria at fault often result from improper handling and other activities related to growing livestock and processing food. But they also result from the fact that livestock are routinely given antibiotics to keep them healthy despite the crowded and often dirty conditions in which they live. However, this wide use of antibiotics allows bacteria resistant to antibiotics to grow. When humans contract illnesses from these bacteria, antibiotics do not relieve the illnesses (Kristof, 2012). [44]

One journalist pointed out the obvious problem: “We would never think of trying to keep our children healthy by adding antibiotics to school water fountains, because we know this would breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It’s unconscionable that Big Ag [Big Agriculture] does something similar for livestock” (Kristof, 2011, p. WK10). [45] A member of the US House of Representatives who is also a microbiologist agreed: “These statistics tell the tale of an industry that is rampantly misusing antibiotics in an attempt to cover up filthy, unsanitary living conditions among animals. As they feed antibiotics to animals to keep them healthy, they are making our families sicker by spreading these deadly strains of bacteria” (Kristof, 2011, p. WK10). [46]


KEY TAKEAWAYS


  • Environmental problems are largely the result of human behavior and human decision making. Changes in human activity and decision making are thus necessary to improve the environment.

  • Environmental inequality and environmental racism are significant issues. Within the United States and around the world, environmental problems are more often found where poor people and people of color reside.

  • Air pollution, global climate change, water pollution and inadequate sanitation, and hazardous waste are major environmental problems that threaten the planet.



FOR YOUR REVIEW


  1. Pretend you are on a debate team and that your team is asked to argue in favor of the following resolution: Be it resolved, that air and water pollution is primarily the result of reckless human behavior rather than natural environmental changes. Using evidence from the text, write a two-minute speech (about three hundred words) in favor of the resolution.

  2. How much of the environmental racism that exists do you think is intentional? Explain your answer.

  3. List one thing you did yesterday that was good for the environment and one thing that was bad for the environment.

[1] Nagel, J., Dietz, T., & Broadbent, J. (Eds.). (2010). Workshop on sociological perspectives on global climate change. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation.

[2] McCarthy, D., & King, L. (2009). Introduction: Environmental problems require social solutions. In L. King & D. McCarthy (Eds.), Environmental sociology: From analysis to action(2nd ed., pp. 1–22). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

[3] King, L., & McCarthy, D. (Eds.). (2009). Environmental sociology: From analysis to action(2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

[4] Fountain, H. (2010, June 15). Documents show risky decisions before BP blowout. New York Times, p. A1.

[5] McCarthy, D., & King, L. (2009). Introduction: Environmental problems require social solutions. In L. King & D. McCarthy (Eds.), Environmental Sociology: From Analysis to Action(2nd ed., pp. 1–22). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

[6] McCarthy, D., & King, L. (2009). Introduction: Environmental problems require social solutions. In L. King & D. McCarthy (Eds.), Environmental sociology: From analysis to action(2nd ed., pp. 1–22). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

[7] Walker, G. (2012). Environmental justice: Concepts, evidence, and politics. New York, NY: Routledge.

[8] Bullard, R. D. (1990). Dumping in Dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; Bullard, R. D., & Wright, B. (2009). Race, place, and the environment in post-Katrina New Orleans. In R. D. Bullard & B. Wright (Eds.), Race, place, and environmental justice after hurricane Katrina: Struggles to reclaim, rebuild, and revitalize New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (pp. 19–48). Boulder, CO: Westview Press; Dicum, G. (2006, March 14). Meet Robert Bullard, the father of environmental justice. Grist Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.grist.org/article/dicum.

[9] Nagel, J., Dietz, T., & Broadbent, J. (Eds.). (2010). Workshop on sociological perspectives on global climate change. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation.

[10] Nagel, J., Dietz, T., & Broadbent, J. (Eds.). (2010). Workshop on sociological perspectives on global climate change. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation.

[11] Evans, G. W., & Kantrowitz, E. (2002). Socioeconomic status and health: The potential role of environmental risk exposure. Annual Review of Public Health, 23(1), 303.

[12] Reiman, J., & Leighton, P. (2010). The rich get richer and the poor get prison: Ideology, class, and criminal justice (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[13] World Health Organization. (2011). Air quality and health. Retrieved fromhttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/index.html.

[14] World Health Organization. (2011). Air quality and health. Retrieved fromhttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/index.html.

[15] Children’s Environmental Health Network. (2009). An introduction to children’s environmental health. Retrieved February 8, 2012, fromhttp://www.cehn.org/introduction_childrens_environmental_health.

[16] Gillis, J., & Foster, J. M. (2012, March 29). Weather runs hot and cold, so scientists look to the ice. New York Times, p. A1; Zimmer, C. (2011, April 5). Multitude of species face climate threat. New York Times, p. D1.

[17] World Health Organization. (2010). Climate change and health. Retrieved fromhttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/index.html.

[18] Agnew, R. (2012). Dire forecast: A theoretical model of the impact of climate change on crime. Theoretical Criminology, 16, 21–42; Fisman, R., & Miguel, E. (2010). Economic gangsters: Corruption, violence, and the poverty of nations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Kristof, N. D. (2008, April 13). Extended forecast: Bloodshed. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/13/opinion/13kristof.html.

[19] Kristof, N. D. (2008, April 13). Extended forecast: Bloodshed. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/13/opinion/13kristof.html.

[20] McNall, S. G. (2011). Rapid climate change: Causes, consequences, and solutions. New York, NY: Routledge.

[21] Pew Research Center. (2011). Modest rise in number saying there is “solid evidence” of global warming. Washington, DC: Author.

[22] Pew Research Center. (2011). Modest rise in number saying there is “solid evidence” of global warming. Washington, DC: Author.

[23] Cameron, J., Hunter, P., Jagals, P., & Pond, K. (Eds.). (2011). Valuing water, valuing livelihoods. London, United Kingdom: World Health Organization; Prüss-Üstün, A., Bos, R., Gore, F., & Bartram, J. (2008). Safer water, better health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

[24] Gronlund, L. (2011). How many cancers did Chernobyl really cause?—updated version. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists.

[25] Fischer, D. (1997). History of the International Atomic Energy Agency: The first forty years. Vienna, Austria: Internatinal Atomic Energy Agency.

[26] Fujita, A. (2012, February 6). Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone shows few signs of life.ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/International/fukushimas-nuclear-exclusion-zone-shows-signs-life/story?id=15521091#.TzFSXONSRyc.

[27] Fujita, A. (2012, February 6). Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone shows few signs of life.ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/International/fukushimas-nuclear-exclusion-zone-shows-signs-life/story?id=15521091#.TzFSXONSRyc.

[28] DiSavino, S. (2012, February 1). Nuclear accidents pose little risk to health: NRC.Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/01/us-utilities-nuclear-accidentstudy-idUSTRE8101ZA20120201.

[29] Union of Concerned Scientists. (2011). Nuclear reactor crisis in Japan FAQs. Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/safety/nuclear-reactor-crisis-faq.html#us-plant-risk.

[30] Zeller, T., Jr. (2011, March 14). US nuclear plants have same risks, and backups, as Japan counterparts. New York Times, p. A10.

[31] Donn, J. (2011, June 20). As nuclear plants age, NRC loosens safety regulations. The Boston Globe, p. A2.

[32] Brockovich, E. (2010). Erin Brockovich biography. Retrieved February 8, 2012, fromhttp://www.brockovich.com/mystory.html; Gibbs, L. M. (1998). Learning from Love Canal: A 20th anniversary retrospective. Retrieved February 8, 2012, fromhttp://arts.envirolink.org/arts_and_activism/LoisGibbs.html.

[33] ScienceDaily. (2010, June 19). Ocean changes may have dire impact on people.ScienceDaily. Retrieved fromhttp://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618103558.htm.

[34] Weise, E. (2011, July 15). Predator loss can start food-chain reaction. USA Today, p. 9A.

[35] Weise, E. (2011, July 15). Predator loss can start food-chain reaction. USA Today, p. 9A.

[36] Estes, J. A., Terborgh, J., Brashares, J. S., Power, M. E., Berger, J., Bond, W. J., et al. (2011). Trophic downgrading of planet Earth. Science, 333(6040), 301–306.

[37] Weise, E. (2011, July 15). Predator loss can start food-chain reaction. USA Today, p. 9A.

[38] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2012). National bycatch program. Retrieved February 13, 2012, fromhttp://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/by_catch/index.htm.

[39] Viegas, J. (2010, April 6). Millions of sea turtles captured, killed by fisheries. Discovery News. Retrieved from http://news.discovery.com/animals/turtles-bycatch-fishing.html.

[40] Rudolf, J. C. (2011, June 5). Under the sea, coral reefs in peril. New York Times, p. WK3.

[41] Daley, B. (2011, April 3). Fighting a losing battle with the sea. Boston.com. Retrieved fromhttp://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2011/04/03/fighting_a_losing_battle_with_the_sea.

[42] CNN. (2011, June 10). E. coli death toll rises to 31; sprouts traced to trash in home.CNN World. Retrieved from http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-10/world/europe.e.coli_1_coli-outbreak-sprouts-german-health?_s=PM:WORLD.

[43] Kristof, N. D. (2011, June 12). When food kills. New York Times, p. WK10.

[44] Kristof, N. (2012, April 5). Arsenic in our chicken? New York Times, p. A23.

[45] Kristof, N. D. (2011, June 12). When food kills. New York Times, p. WK10.

[46] Kristof, N. D. (2011, June 12). When food kills. New York Times, p. WK10.


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