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Environmental Sociology

Environmental sociologists seek to identify the social, political, economic, and technological factors that contribute to pollution, overconsumption, and waste.These in turn threaten ecosystems, human life, and other species that share the planet.

Environmental sociologists seek to uncover the ways in which human activities influence and affect the natural environment.Much of the focus of environmental sociology has been on explaining how the consumption patterns of the United States and other industrialized countries are connected to environmental destruction.

Sociologist Allan Schnaiberg (2008) associates environmental problems with the global economy's ever-increasing drive for profit. He coined the term treadmill of productionin reference to the ceaseless increases in production and, by extension, consumption that are neededto sustain the global economy's success, which is measured by increased profits.

This never-ending cycle or treadmill has a devastating impact on the environmentbecause the relentless focus on producing and consuming increasesenergy consumption, waste, and harmful emissions.

Environmental sociologists contend that the damage to the environment is not shared equally; minority and low-income people who consume much less than the wealthy are disproportionately overexposed to environmental pollutants.