Today’s society consists of many different social problems. Social problems can range from affecting certain parts of society to affecting the world’s society. Social problems are “situations affecting a significant number of people, that are believed to be sources of difficulty or threaten the stability of the community…” (Cancerweb.ncl.as.uk).
The definition of the term ‘social problem’ can range from a minute case to a widespread problem. A social problem can also be considered as a “social condition that a segment of society views as harmful to members of society [that is] in need of remedy.” Social problems range with each individual person. Every person has a unique perspective of what is a problem and what is not. An easy way to clarify what a social problem is if there is a public outcry for a solution to it. While most commonly thought of social problems are based on discrimination and stereotypes, one specific social problem that does not fit into these standards is global warming.
Global warming is “an increase in earth’s average atmospheric temperature that causes corresponding changes in climate… that may result from the greenhouse effect” (Dictionary.com). As a social problem, global warming is a fairly large and broad topic. The greenhouse effect is an environmental condition caused by excessive quantities of carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. These definitions are simply physical definitions. In terms of being a social problem, global warming and the greenhouse affect yields harmful effects on every community and society as a whole. This type of social problem does not choose its victim based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, income, age, or any stereotypical category a person can be placed in. Not every person is equally affected by this, but everyone is susceptible to dealing with this problem.
The greenhouse effect is a factor in causing global warming. Global warming is caused by many factors and different kinds of pollution. The main type of pollution that affects global warming is air pollution. Air pollution is simply defined as pollution of the atmosphere, which ties in with the greenhouse effect. Air pollution can also be defined as “the addition of harmful chemicals to the atmosphere. The most serious air pollution results from the burning of fossil fuels, especially in internal-combustion engines” (Dictionary.com).
Air pollution, along with any other type of pollution are mostly caused by human’s actions. The way people live today, and how they use their resources in daily life results in everyday pollution. Pollution can be considered as an “undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances as a consequence of human activities” (Dictionary.com). People may not realize this, but their actions directly affect their surroundings. Completing daily tasks such as driving a car has detrimental effects on Earth’s atmosphere and pollution levels.
Global warming causes physical harm to humans, animals, and plant life. A change in the Earth’s climate could be detrimental to the Earth’s life. The physical harm that is inflicted on all of living life due to global warming poses as a problem: a social problem. Global warming does not choose its victim based on any type of criteria such as race, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, income, or any stereotypical category. Global warming poses as a social problem by affecting a significant number of people, and by threatening the stability of the community’s environment.
Since pollution is one of the main factors in causing global warming, it also comes with health effects. These effects range from being short-term to being long-term. Short-term effects can be as simple as headaches nausea, and allergic reactions such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia can also occur. An example in history of health effects from pollution can be found in the “Smog Disaster” in 1952 located in London. In this “Smog Disaster” a total of four thousand people passed in only a few days. The death of these civilians was due to the high concentrations of pollution (Paraphrased from Lbl.gov).
Long-term health effects “include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys” (Lbl.gov). Research has shown that younger children and elderly people are more sensitive to pollution compared to the general public. “Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly” (Lbl.gov). “Young children and elderly people often suffer more from the effects of air pollution” (LbL.gov).
With global warming not being in full affect, the extents of the effects are currently unknown. The effects of global warming are only just beginning with mild winters and extremely hot summers. The climate change can be subtle or dramatic depending on how quickly it occurs. The increase in temperature in the climate either way will be harmful. With temperature increase’s ice caps in the Artic and Antarctica are melting at increasing rates. The melting of ice caps can have many changes includes the destruction of the habitat in the Artic as well as rising sea levels. “Global warming could push sea levels about 40 percent higher than current models predict” (NationalGeographic.com). “Models suggest that by 2100 sea level[s] will be between four and thirty-five inches… higher than it was in 1990” (NationalGeographic.com).
Ocean front properties and beaches can be destroyed and submerged in water because of these rising sea levels. The higher the temperatures and climates increase, the faster the sea levels will rise. A comparison of this at a minor scale could be like a house built in a flood plain next to a river. The more it rains the higher the water will rise. If the water rises to high, it will flood the flood plain, and destroy the house. Coastal areas will be affected similarly. A person could think of the coastal areas as a flood plain for the oceans. Ice caps melt from the rising temperatures, as the water heats up (even just slightly), the water will begin to expand. As the water expands the sea level will rise.
Solutions to global warming and its effects range vastly. There are several different types of solutions ranging from micro-level solutions to macro-level solutions. Solutions can range from fuel-efficient vehicles to more environmental laws. Solutions to global warming may not fully diminish the problem, it may only reduce it.
Renewable resources could play a main role in the solutions to reducing global warming. A key point is that if we were to switch to renewable resources it would cost the government a lot of money, which could result in higher taxes or some other means of obtaining the necessary amount of money. A plus to using renewable resources is the fact that in the long run they would pay for themselves. Not only would it provide jobs for the people who would be forced to leave the nonrenewable resources, it would also be opening up opportunities for the unemployed. Along with making our environment a safer and more hazard free living zone, we’d also be leading towards a better economy.
Our current economy state is negatively thought of, and switching to nonrenewable resources could put our government in debt. After so many years renewable resources will not only repay its own debt, but it will also produce a profit. The term renewable resources are “relating to a natural resource, such as solar energy, water, or wood, that is never used up or that can be replaced by new growth. Resources that are dependent on regrowth can sometimes be depleted beyond the point of renewability, as when the deforestation of land leads to desertification or when a commercially valuable species is harvested to extinction. Pollution can also make a renewable resource such as water unusable in a particular location” (Dictionary.com).
The future problems dealing with global warming will lead to such massive problems that a solution and change will be demanded. Global warming is a social problem because of the public outcry that is already occurring. The state of our current economy is negatively thought of. If we were to invest in new solutions for global warming it would be a great cost. If we were to pay for the projects to reduce global warming that we believe will have an effect may put our country in great debt. If the country were to switch to fuel-efficient and renewable resources in all institutes and factories it would be a great cost.
A good way to evaluate the methods of our solutions to global warming would involve technology we already possess. Measuring CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the amounts of trash and liter in our surrounding environment in comparison to the current and predicted conditions would only be a start. Actually comparing climate conditions to the predicted conditions would be a good evaluation. If the climate is kept at an average as it is now, in comparison to the higher climates predicted for the future, we would be able to tell if the solutions were taking effect.
Courtney from Study Moose
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