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The article Treadmill Predispositions and Social Responses, by Schnaiberg Gould is related to the article Silent Spill, by Beamish, in that it explains a general overview as to what people are doing to the environment, due to the expansion of production and need for profits using The Silent Spill as an example. The Silent Spill shows further how people are inconsiderate of the environment during this production expansion due to their narrow sight of needing to make profits.
First of all, Treadmill Predispositions and Social Responses ultimately explains that a quickly growing population has very few social or ecological advantages and is thought to be the explanation for environmental disruption. But the expansion of production and profits is the ultimate antagonist against the environment. The global diffusion of money, increase in technology and increase in information has allowed production to expand, therefore increasing profits. The expansion of production has a direct impact on the environment through withdrawals and additions. Changing energy forms has been a main factor that has withdrawn from and added to the environment, which is ultimately linked to technological changes. From coal to steam to eventually electricity, there has been a great jump in the methods of transportation that have allowed trading (and profits) to increase to a global scale. This has withdrawn many resources from our environment, such as coal, petroleum, and trees, leading to depletion. The processes at which we withdraw and use these resources add awful additions to the environment, such as air, land and water pollution. This affects all species, including us humans. Once companies get so large, they must compete with other companies, therefore ignoring environmental regulations even more. And though a greater population ultimately leads to the disorganization of the environment, production decisions are controlled by only a few individuals, who only have a desire for profits, in the population. Therefore, it is not the population size destroying the environment; it is the expansion of production.
The intense obsession for profits blurs the vision of these decision makers so that the impacts on the environment are easily pushed aside. One example of this would be the Guadalupe Dunes Oil Spill, as discussed in the article The Silent Spill. This oil spill had gone on for 38 years without any “notice”. Eight and a half million to 20 million gallons of petroleum had spilled under the surface of the beach, destroying the environment. Unocal should have reported this spill, but did not due to not wanting to lose profits or jobs. The company blamed their hierarchal system for the lack of communication that prohibited the news to getting to the head position who would alert Los Angeles about the problem. The employees all felt as if it wasn’t their responsibility to tell. But the ugly truth was the fact that they were not losing any money from this spill, and were still making profits, therefore did not want to get in trouble or risk the industry being shut down, because this would mean a loss in jobs and profits.
In the past, companies started out as little family-owned organizations, where the owners were managers and had relationships with their employees. They produced to sustain their family and a few others, but did not have a goal of creating as much money as possible. They were held responsible, therefore did not hurt the environment in large. Now, with huge companies that assign hierarchies, no one feels responsible for hurting the environment because they feel so small and unimportant in their company. This allows production to easily destroy the environment without anyone feeling they are the blame.
It is upsetting to see how people are so absorbed in gaining profits for themselves that they will allow the environment to become so depleted and disorganized. People do not realize that this affects all species, including themselves in the long run. Most people, like Pinchot, believe that the environment and nature exists for human consumption. But only Pinchot realizes that we have to sustain the environment if we want to continue to use it. With such rapid production in today’s world, we are going to deplete our resources and have nothing to sustain us. Everyone is worried about his or her profits, but do not realize that the profits are going to hit a dead end once they no longer have the resources to continue making them.
This kind of mindset is very prevalent in my project’s area, Asia and the South Pacific. With Asia so rapidly growing and producing, yes, they are becoming very wealthy, but soon that will not matter when they have used all of their resources and cannot live a healthy life due to the air pollution. As for Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, which is a hugely important ecological landmark, is becoming depleted due to pollution and people’s disrespect.
As you can see, no one feels as though they are the blame for any of these issues, and they are reaching their goals of making profits, so they do not feel any need to discontinue their selfish actions. The environment will make people regret this one day.
February 11, 2016
Rethinking Environmental Racism by Laura Pulido and Race, Class, Gender and American Environmentalism by Dorceta Taylor both showcase the underlying problem of racism as “White Privelage”. Rethinking Environmental Racism explains how racism is analyzed and applied to environmental racism, whereas Race, Class, Gender and American Environmentalism describes all of the racism that people of color have experienced throughout history. These articles go hand-in-hand, showing all of the possibilities of reasons for the evident environmental racism that exists and always has.
Pulido’s article explains how environmental racism is determined by its siting, intentionality and scale. Being that this is hard to pinpoint in all cases, many cases of racism have very blurry lines. In most cases, it seems as if environmental injustice is always placed in less affluent, racially diverse communities. This makes it easy to blame the industries and government for this discrimination. But Pulido describes a “chicken or the egg” kind of scenario: which comes first, the siting or the people? Are communities established and then industries choose the communities with least amount of white people to plant themselves right next to, to pollute their lives intentionally? Or do the people of color move to locations near industrial zones? It can be either. Black communities are seen as less desirable, as defined by white privilege. Therefore, the land is cheaper and industries buy this land for economical reasons. Or, maybe, industrial sites are planted, cheapening the land, making it more economical for less affluent people to move in. In Los Angeles, white people have consistently moved to more desirable land throughout history, leaving it up to colored people to file onto the less desirable land. This cycle has been reoccurring throughout history. Has it been intentionally discriminatory? It depends at what scale you look at it from. As a whole? Maybe through the county or government, or maybe not. Individually, it may have been by some people, but some people not. As for LA’s pollution issues, has it been intentional that all environmental issues occur only near Blacks and Latinos? This we are unsure of. We can gain more insight of this from historical records.
Taylor’s article shows the great racism that all non-whites have experienced throughout history. Native Americans have been forced off their land and pushed to undesirable lands, robbed of their traditions, lifestyles and basic necessities. Blacks have experienced huge racial inequality through slavery, lack of basic necessities, lack of education, and so on. Latinos have experienced the same situations as both races mentioned above. Unfortunately, as seen through history, the scale for all of this discrimination originally started as governmental, or at least was supported governmentally. I believe this may have helped frame the mindsets of whites, institutionally reaffirming their white privilege. Even though they say racism isn’t always intentional, it was intentional at one point in history as shown by this article, and has been built into the social norms of the “white privilege”, therefore now unintentional but still relevant.
Both of these articles show how white privilege is used to whites’ advantage, and has been through history. This racism is more structural, though more unnoticed by those who use it. Even though it usually goes unnoticed by whites, it shapes our cities, as seen evidently in Los Angeles, where whites have suburbanized themselves in beautiful, sanitary, safe areas and blacks live in downtown cities surrounded by crime and industrial areas. White people do not care to fix this due to having fear of losing their desirable lifestyles in the process.
Unfortunately, I agree with these facts completely. Whites who are set in their ways and content may not see the need to change what doesn’t need to be fixed in their eyes. They feel as if they have no part, and are not the racist ones. Individually, they may not be. Their intentions may have just been to better their own lives, and not hurt people of color. But on the scale as a whole race, whites are suppressing blacks to continue living the awful lives that they were forced to live in the beginning of time. We can see this in our own city of San Diego, where we attend a predominantly white university, and live and mingle in predominantly white neighborhoods, such as the beach areas. Linda Vista and Chula Vista are situated with mostly Latinos, who are attending schools with out any prestige and living in smaller houses with unmaintained streets and higher crime. Downtown San Diego has areas such as National City, where Black people live in beat up townhouses, houses or even tents lining the streets. This discrimination and segregation is seen daily, but because us whites have the upper hand, it certainly goes unnoticed that this should not be a norm, but we have allowed and created it to be one.
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