Outstanding Publication Award
The following report was submitted to the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association by Tammy Lewis on behalf of the Outstanding Publication Award Committee, which also includes Craig Humphrey, Chair, and Scott Frickel:
The committee to select the recipient of the Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Environmental Sociology unanimously agreed to grand this award to the joint efforts of Richard York (University of Oregon), Eugene Rosa (Washington State University), and Thomas Dietz (Michigan State University). Their recent, distinguished publications include "Footprints on the earth: The environmental consequences of modernity," American Sociological Review, 2003; "Bridging environmental science with environmental policy: Plasticity of population, affluence, and technology," Social Science Quarterly, 2002; "STIRPAT, IPAT, and IMPACT: Analytical tools for unpacking the driving forces of environmental Impacts," Ecological Economics, 2003; and York and Rosa's "Key challenges to ecological modernization theory." Organization & Environment, 2003. These distinguished publications consistently show an excellent command of modern social theories in environmental sociology, sophisticated, state-of-the art statistical analysis, and clearly stated implications of findings both for social theory and for environmental policy.
York, Rosa, and Dietz's "Footprints on the earth," published in the American Sociological Review, exemplifies the high quality of scholarship evident in all of their work. The footprint or ecological impact is defined as "the quantity of land that would be required to support the material consumption of a nation." The authors statistically identify the explanatory power of human ecological, modernization, and neo-Marxian theories for the international variation in the ecological footprint of 142 countries. They conclude, "Factors identified by ecological modernization theorists as potentially mitigating human impacts on the environment, such as state environmentalism, political rights, civil liberties, service sector development, and the presence of a capitalist system, have no significant effect on impacts. Taken together, these results suggest that basic economic and ecological factors are largely determined by human impacts on the environment."
Using the results of their regression analysis, York, Rosa, and Dietz are able to compare what htey call the eco-efficiency of nations, or, as they say, "the environmental impact of a nation when controlling for basic material conditions." Compared to the United States, Canada's eco-efficiency is 1.8 times greater; Germany's eco-efficiency is 1.7 times greater than the United States; Japan's is 1.9 times greater; and Sweden's is 1.6 times greater. Given that all these countries have more or less comparable standards of living, more or less comparable material conditions, one wonders what structural and technological features they have to lessen their ecological footprint on the earth. They make us raise new questions about the relationship between societies and their biophysical environments.
Richard, Gene, and Tom's research productivity, their consistent wedding of theory and empirical research, the professional visibility of their scholarship, and, of course, the path breaking nature of their work are among the reasons why they are receiving the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Environment and Technology. They have advanced the field of environmental sociology through excellent research. We thank them for such a great job.