432 × 286
Environmental Sustainability: Professor's book examines, offers tips on social sustainability


Environmental Sustainability: Professor’s book examines, offers tips on social sustainability
With the world’s population projected to hit 7 billion by the end of this month, Tim Delaney of Oswego’s sociology department selected the earth’s carrying capacity as the topic of his latest publication.
Tim Delaney “Environmental Sustainability,” written and published by Delaney and Tim Madigan of St. John Fisher College, explores humanity’s interactions with and impacts on the global ecosystem—but also how humans can positively influence the equation.
“The earth does have a limited carrying capacity,” Delaney said. “We can only carry so many humans and other species before the results drain on natural resources.”
The central question of the book, he said, is: How can we save the environment so humans and other species can live on it?
The latest estimate by the United Nations shows population growth worldwide continuing to rise rapidly. The 7 million mark comes 13 years after the earth’s human population crossed 6 million in 1998, only 11 years after hitting 5 million in 1987. Much of the growth is taking place in rapidly industrializing nations that are still catching up with how to manage development in an environmentally stable manner.
The book explores what Delaney has termed “the Five Horrorists”—a concept that spins off of Malthus’ take on the biblical four horsemen of the apocalypse. The book identifies these threats to humanity as war, famine, pestilence, disease and “enviromares,” or environmental-related threats, within the context of the earth’s population and resources.
While some natural events, such as volcanic activities, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts or the 8.6 million lightning strikes per day, can cause environmental disturbances, living creatures unquestionably leave the biggest impact, he noted.
Sociological issue
“I would argue that saving the environment is a sociological problem,” Delaney said. “We can’t control nature, but we can control human nature. Since humans cause the most problems, it’s up to us to try to solve the problems.”
The associate professor and chair of sociology acknowledged that environmental concerns and issues like climate change have their share of skeptics. Wherever one sits on that debate, he said, “we do know that rainforests are being depleted and that glaciers are melting.”
The final chapter provides a checklist on how readers can make decisions to help the environment at home, in the yard, at school or work, while on vacation and in the car.
Delaney will use the text and related materials for the new Sociology 301 “Environmental Sustainability” course that will debut in the spring semester. He plans an “open dialogue” setting where students will research and write about the issues involved—and can express opposing viewpoints if they have data to defend them.
For those not taking the class, the text “should be a fun read, an easy read and a practical guide on how to help the environment,” Delaney said.
“Environmental Sustainability” itself considers the environment in that it is available both as an ebook and with a slim print version that uses the Century Gothic typeface, found to be environmentally friendly by a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay study because “it uses considerably less ink,” Delaney said. PHOTO CAPTION: Environmentally friendly—The new book “Environmental Sustainability,” co-authored and co-published by Tim Delaney of the sociology department, explores how humanity impacts the global ecosystem and what environmentally friendly steps humans can take to help lessen that impact.
(Posted: Oct 22, 2011)