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Climate Change and SocietySociological Perspectives$
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Riley E. Dunlap and Robert J. Brulle

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199356102

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199356102.001.0001

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The Human (Anthropogenic) Driving Forces of Global Climate Change

The Human (Anthropogenic) Driving Forces of Global Climate Change

Chapter:
(p.32) 2 The Human (Anthropogenic) Driving Forces of Global Climate Change
Source:
Climate Change and Society
Author(s):

Eugene A. Rosa

Thomas K. Rudel

Richard York

Andrew K. Jorgenson

Thomas Dietz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199356102.003.0002

The two-centuries-long surge in greenhouse gas emissions that has driven climate change has had its origins in the societal transformations outlined in this chapter. A capitalist-led expansion in the global economy, coupled with human population increases, accounts for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. There are two widely acknowledged sociological explanations for the changes in emissions: (1) a technology-focused ecological modernization perspective that emphasizes increases in energy efficiency and new technology and (2) a capitalist-focused treadmill of production explanation that emphasizes changes in the volume of production. The treadmill perspective explains the patterns of greenhouse gas emissions more adequately than the ecological modernization perspective. Just as these societal transformations have driven the increase in emissions, so policy-driven social, economic, and technological transformations should play an important role in any future reductions in emissions.

Keywords:   climate change, ecological modernization, treadmill of production, energy efficiency, capitalist

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