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It is helpful to read the lecture PowerPoint for the relevant week or weeks. You should also listen  to the audio file if you did not attend the lecture. These will be posted on Blackboard. The lectures  have been designed to fit the essay topics and explain what the questions are about.  The readings from your book of readings for the relevant weeks are a good point at which to start.  You will be expected to make use of the further readings provided.  Make use of the readings  listed with each weekly topic in the course outline. Many of these readings are in short loans in  the library which means that they can often also accessed as a digital file online. Please go to at  least five of these before searching for other readings on your own account. 

  1. How does the concept of governmentality apply to environmental conservation and restoration? Discuss examples from various regions considering societal barriers that intersect with the implementation of pro?environmental initiatives. 
  2. Examine the kinds of settlement design proposed for a future with very low energy use. Are these proposals technologically feasible and would they enable people to live sustainably?  Taking the point of view of an affluent consumer today, what would be the advantages and  disadvantages of such a lifestyle?
  3. Environmentalists sometimes look to stateless (hunting and gathering or horticultural) societies as a model for the sustainable use of nature. Is this an accurate picture of how  these societies operated?   Can any aspects of these societies be adopted to help us to  develop a sustainable society today?  
  4. Many environmentalists call for the people of rich countries to embrace lifestyle change right away, to save the environment, by living more simply. Explain this perspective.  On the  other hand, other commentators claim that environmentally damaging consumption is built  into structures of the economy that are difficult to sidestep. Does this make voluntary  lifestyle change an unlikely route to environmental improvement? 
  5. Is “civilization” (meaning living in cities with writing, social class and agriculture) a big mistake that humanity may well regret – creating environmental destruction, alienated work and poverty? Is collapse the most likely outcome of our current crisis?
  6. Anarchists and socialists are convinced that the problem with the environment is capitalism. Is this a good analysis?  What kinds of utopias do they propose as alternatives? Could they  work?
  7. Environmentalists argue that high input agriculture destroys soils and reduces biodiversity as well as depending on cheap and plentiful oil supplies. They also claim that more sustainable  alternatives can also be productive. Explain some of the alternatives being proposed for food  production and describe some of the initiatives being developed today. Nevertheless unsustainable agriculture continues. Why is this?

Reading and Listening to Relevant Materials

The term civilization is the combination of the French term, “civilise “ which means civilized and the Latin tem, “civis“ , which means citizen (Malinowski, 2015) . The civilization can be described as the society of human beings, which are very complex, who dwells in the groups. These grouped settlements resulted in the formation of cities. The civilization led to the formation of urban agglomeration, which comprises of the human settlements that are marked by the high density of population and infrastructure (Zhang et al., 2013). The civilization is also characterized by the social segregation, which resulted in the division of the group of the society based on the factors like the wealth or income of the individuals in the society and also the social status or power in the society (Amini et al.,2014). The complex societies that were formed changed to form agricultural villages, cities and states. People no longer relied on the hunting or collection of food, on the contrary they started to develop systems that would help them to produce their food. There were also distinct changes in the agriculture and it was followed by the agriculture revolution. The villages also began to be productive not only agriculturally but also creatively. The people of the society in the villages started producing textile, their also started crafting pottery, buildings and sculptures. The process of intensification was started in the farming. The agriculture revolution, which is one of the characteristics of the civilization lead to the development of already complex societies. The civilization also led to the formation of social classes. The political, economic and the religious institutions resulted in the formation of social hierarchies (Kacewicz et al., 2014). The individuals associated with these hierarchies were associated with specific roles that included traders, merchants, administrator, farmers, rulers and others. Civilization also resulted in the development of the villages into cities and some of them also developed into city –states.

However, with the changes and advancements associated with the civilization ,there also persists several drawbacks or demerits which are associated with the civilization , these drawbacks compels us to rethink or reevaluate whether the civilization is a major mistake , which the humanity may regret in the long run . The civilization has triggered an insatiable hunger, which has led to the extinction of several species that ranges from the mammoth to the Tasmanian tiger (Pimm et al., 2014). The human beings of the civilized society cleared the forests and grasslands for their settlements and building of factories. Pollution has also been one of the major components that led to the destruction of environment (Newman, 2014). The factories, which had been created from the early stages of civilization that followed the industrial revolution, led to the creation of several factories, which resulted in pollution from the waste generated and also the smoke from the factories (Mantoux, 2013). The vehicular or automobile pollution also contributed to the ever-increasing pollution that poisoned the ecosystem with harmful gases and chemicals.  Other human conflicts, that were the part of the civilization , which altered the environment are the wars and the use of nuclear weapons .  This resulted in the spreading of toxic residues that affected the entire food chain causing disruption to the environment.  The other drawback that was associated with the civilization is alienated work.  The concept of alienated work or alienation states that the workers were treated as the commodity (Schacht, 2015). The workers were disappointed with the work as their work were continuously supervised and monitored by the mangers and the supervisors. Karl Marx, who was a socialist revolutionary from Germany, stated that the alienation or alienated work was the result of capitalism, which was one of the characteristics of capitalism (Korsch, 2013). The workers are manipulated and exploited in order to enhance the productivity and the output. As a result of this, the workers lacks the determination for work and are frustrated. The capitalist tries to ensure that the workers are exploited in order to maximize their surplus (Marable, 2015).  The workers feels that  they are being deprived of their destinies as they are continuously monitored and supervised while they perform their work activities. The workers are unable to consume the products. As a result of these , there has been a growing resentment among the workers . There are several disputes and conflicts due to the competitive nature of the capitalism, which is one of the characteristics of civilization (Witt & Redding, 2014). As a result of these several disputes and conflicts, there is high level of alienation or alienated work and also dissatisfaction among the workers. The workers are forced to compete for the resources, which are scarce, for their survival. Thus, it can be stated as alienated work or alienation is one of the drawbacks or demerits of the civilization. Poverty is also one of the major drawbacks associated with the civilization.  The civilization resulted in the segregation of the society and led to the creation of social classes depending upon their wealth. As a result of this, it led to the economic inequality, which is the disparity of wealth between different sections of the society (Piketty, 2014). Because of the economic inequality, the rich became richer and the poor became poorer. The poor sections of the society were forced to dwell in poverty due to these differences.  The inequality meant unequal or almost no access to the resources, which are needed in order to lift the family from the shackles of poverty.  Overpopulation was also one of the attributes of the civilization, the population in both the cities and the villages began to increase drastically. Because of the massive population boom, it leads to overconsumption and overutilization of the resources. The overconsumption and overutilization of the resources results in poverty. A large number of populations of the society are suffering from poverty, which are indirectly caused due to the civilization.  The over utilization of the resources resulted in the increased pressure on the traditional livelihood of large section of people. The people dwelling in the rural community relied on the land for their livelihood but due to massive urbanization and industrialization, which are the characteristics of the civilization, they were forced to leave their land. This disrupted and plundered their livelihood and because of the loss of livelihood and inconsistent work, they were compelled to live in poverty. Thus, it can be said that there are several drawbacks or demerits, which are associated with the Civilization, which includes environment destruction, alienated work, poverty and others. It is also understandable that the disadvantages and demerits associated with the Civilization would only increase in the years to come. Therefore, if we analyze thoroughly, it can be said that the Civilization can be deemed as a mistake in the long run, which the humanity may regret.

What is Civilization?

The harshest outcome of the civilization is the ultimate ‘collapse’ that world will experience. Along with it, unfortunately few of the global people actually recognized it and understood it. The bitter truth that the world is leaning towards collapse is perceived by a handful of concerned people of the society. The word ‘civilization is denoted by the growth and expansion of the cities and towns, which has been considered to be the root cause of environmental disturbance. The early civilization was just the accumulation of few families or villages but today the word ‘civilization’ has reached the level of cities and subsequently states. A city is where human tends to settle permanently.  However, the rates of human settlement in lands have exceeded the capacity of the environment. The deluge of people requires sufficient food supply and other necessary resources from the area where they stay.

The word ‘require’ connotes that the rural people are force to export their products to meet the requirements of the city people.  The city takes away their life, their nature and food. The so-called civilization cannot be sustainable because there is always a logical limit to every expansion. The scientists and scholar have explored the idea of colonizing other planets to fulfill the ever-expanding need of the current civilization and bridge the current crisis gap. However, it has to be taken into consideration that the idea of colonizing other planets is possible only in science fictions.  The world has to sustain within its own resources, which is becoming complicated day by day.   The ultimate limit of the physical, technological and biological advancement is almost reached to build a better civilization but it must be of greater concern whether this advancement is affecting the world in one way or the other.

When examined properly, it has been revealed that the major constituents and effects of civilization, which can lead the world towards destruction and collapse, are overpopulation, inequality, famine, warfare, political and social unrest, disease, depletion of the major resources such as arable soil, water, timber and many others.

The environmental destruction- One of the most significant aspects of the environmental destruction is the deforestation in the name of economic growth and development. The rise in the climate breakdown and CO2 emission rates are the living instances of the consequences of civilization, which is heading towards the ultimate collapse. The rare species of plants and creatures are being almost extinct due to the deadly effects of modern civilization. The rivers, which are the sources of lives, are being polluted and blocked year after year. Reports say that the world has lost half of the world‘s wildlife in the last 40 years due to the ruthless manner in which forests are being executed (Davidson, 2014). It has been referred to as the mass extinction event.  The decline in the number of insect species specifically bees is associated with the decline in pollination in plants.

The Demerits of Civilization

The resources- The level of essential minerals and resources such as antimony, oil, phosphorous, copper, silver, indium and many others is declining (Antonio & Alicia, 2014). The advancement of civilization has increased the rates of more renewable energy consumption (Bhattacharya et al., 2016) . The resources have long reached their peak and it is high time when potential actions must be taken to meet the ends. The demands of superior technology and gadgets have raised the dependency on fossil fuels and it is well known that they require more energy to establish and sustain. The dangerous rate with which the oil reservoirs are being exploited can well evidence that the world will soon arrive at a point when there will be zero barrels of oil left.

Famine - After seeing the condition of the past years, the growth of population, scholars have suggested that capitalism will truly stare the humanity unless it changes.  In this respect, it must be kept in mind that the world is nearing the total collapse of the food supply around the globe.  The oceans are being overfished, the fields are being over ploughed and over reaped to feed the multitudinous humanity (Yoon-Henderson, 2016). The vastly overpopulated world will soon run out of food and living spaces for people. The carrying capacity of the earth has exceeded and there is no such way to build a harmonious relationship between the environment and the multiplying population (Clayton & Radcliffe, 2015).  The day is not that distant when people will live at the ‘coffin homes’ in the form of apartments. The focus on another aspect must be thrown that ‘civilization’ has increased the number of belongings or luggage that come along with each person. It occupies extra space and thus heightens the demand of large living spaces.

Social and Political unrest - Another negative outcome of civilization is the social and political unrest in the society and community since the society has fallen apart (Miller & Rose, 2017). It is not new that the world experiences everyday instances of political clash and protests mostly among the people who are not ready to compromise. The rush to establish the righteousness of individuals intensifies the need to fight against the existing rules and practices. Mass shooting is an example that occurred in the United States with more than 50, 000 records of such incidents. Apart from social and political unrest, psychological unrest can also be counted as a consequence.  The modern civilization is structured on the basis of technological advancement. It is the contributory factor in the progress of modern world as well as the most negative effect. The world has become skeptic, forgotten all the connection with nature having addicted to the smart phones and caught in the net of ‘internet’.  It is nothing but the decay of humanity caused by the cancer of modern civilization.

Alienated Work

Therefore, it can be seen from all the aspects of civilization that it is leading the world towards nowhere but destruction and decay, collapse and scarcity. The process has already started and nothing can ideally stop it but the awareness can support the civilization to sustain in the world. The workers felt that they were deprived of their destinies, as they were not able to consume the products that were developed by them. There are several conflicts and disputes associated with the capitalism because of its competitive nature. Because of these conflicts and disputes, it results in the alienation of work or alienation of masses, as they have to compete for their survival due to the scarcity of resources.

References

Amini, A., Kung, K., Kang, C., Sobolevsky, S., & Ratti, C. (2014). The impact of social segregation on human mobility in developing and industrialized regions. EPJ Data Science, 3(1), 6.

Antonio, V. C., & Alicia, V. C. (2014). Thanatia: The Destiny Of The Earth's Mineral Resources-A Thermodynamic Cradle-to-cradle Assessment. World scientific.

Bhattacharya, M., Paramati, S. R., Ozturk, I., & Bhattacharya, S. (2016). The effect of renewable energy consumption on economic growth: Evidence from top 38 countries. Applied Energy, 162, 733-741.

Clayton, T., & Radcliffe, N. (2015). Sustainability: a systems approach. Routledge.

Davidson, N. C. (2014). How much wetland has the world lost? Long-term and recent trends in global wetland area. Marine and Freshwater Research, 65(10), 934-941.

Kacewicz, E., Pennebaker, J. W., Davis, M., Jeon, M., & Graesser, A. C. (2014). Pronoun use reflects standings in social hierarchies. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 33(2), 125-143.

Korsch, K. (2013). Marxism and philosophy. Verso Trade.

Malinowski, B. (2015). Freedom and civilization. Routledge.

Mantoux, P. (2013). The industrial revolution in the eighteenth century: An outline of the beginnings of the modern factory system in England. Routledge.

Marable, M. (2015). How capitalism underdeveloped Black America: Problems in race, political economy, and society. Haymarket Books.

Miller, P., & Rose, N. (2017). Political power beyond the state: Problematics of government. In Foucault and Law (pp. 191-224). Routledge.

Newman, M. C. (2014). Fundamentals of ecotoxicology: the science of pollution. CRC press.

Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the 21st Century.

Pimm, S. L., Jenkins, C. N., Abell, R., Brooks, T. M., Gittleman, J. L., Joppa, L. N., ... & Sexton, J. O. (2014). The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection. Science, 344(6187), 1246752.

Schacht, R. (2015). Alienation. Psychology Press.

Witt, M. A., & Redding, G. (2014). Authoritarian Capitalism. The Oxford handbook of Asian business systems, 2.

Yoon-Henderson, K. (2016). Overfished and Overexploited.

Zhang, Z., Su, S., Xiao, R., Jiang, D., & Wu, J. (2013). Identifying determinants of urban growth from a multi-scale perspective: A case study of the urban agglomeration around Hangzhou Bay, China. Applied Geography, 45, 193-202.

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