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Quality of life is how well or poorly a person or group of peoples live. An individual’s quality of life is influenced by a vast array of factors, including but not limited to physical and mental health, economic gain, the culture of an area, and one’s social life (“Quality of Life”). Two common and largely contributing factors are scientific developments and a person’s or group of people’s environments.
The environment can greatly affect the quality of life of multiple different groups of people.
Factors such as clean water, natural disasters, and air quality will change how high or low the quality of life in any area is (Streimikiene). Clean water is essential in the fact that dirty or contaminated water can cause a wide variety of health-related complications ranging from daily difficulties to severe illnesses. It has been found that there are over two billion people drinking water that has feces in it (“Drinking-water”). There are various other contaminants that could make a person ill besides feces, including but not limited to lead, mercury, and radiation.
Water that is clean as opposed to being contaminated could end up being the difference between life and death for whoever is ingesting the water. WHO (World Health Organization) has been taking steps in getting more people clean drinking water. This organization is informing government leaders, setting up safe drinking water guidelines, and inspecting water filters.
Natural disasters more often than not end in death or long-lasting injuries which further impacts not only a person or peoples’ mental and physical health, but also their finances.
A reported 9,624 people lost their lives in 2015 worldwide from earthquakes (“Earthquake Statistics”). Not only is the mass amount of death a major problem, but also the property damage resulting from natural disasters poses a massive issue. According to “Facts + Statistics: Hurricanes” by the Insurance Information Institute, earlier this year there had been $13 billion worth of property damage done by hurricane Michael just in the state of Florida alone. Those who have lost someone or attained injuries during the hurricane would have to deal with those finances as well as the possibility of spending more money fixing their home. Due to harsh weather conditions, some people do not have a place to go home to after a natural disaster. This could be really detrimental to the quality of life in the area.
In 2016, when data was gathered about exposure to pollution or other environmental issues, Malta had a report of 30.3% of people exposed. In the same survey, it was found that Ireland had a report of 4.6% people exposed, Germany of 23.2% people exposed, and Greece of 19.6% people exposed (“Quality of life indicators-natural and living environment”). This is better than in previous years; however, it is still a largely important global issue. Not only can pollution cause illness, but it can also cause residents living in a polluted area copious amounts of stress and anxiety. Increasing awareness of air quality has led to actions being taken in some countries to protect the people and environment. According to “Reducing Pollution” from the National Pollutant Inventory of Australia, factories and manufacturing companies are encouraged to keep logs or reports of emissions and waste to try to reduce the amount of pollution in the country.
Locally, an environmental issue has risen regarding the air quality. In the state of Florida, there is a large amount of smog also known as ground level ozone, which can end up being very harmful. Smog can cause lung damage, severe chest pain, weakened breathing, and many more problems (“Is Florida Air Pollution Impacting Your Health?”). When this is happening, people with existing lung or breathing problems may not be able to stay outside for longer periods of time. This could prove to be an issue for those who have outside jobs. The quality of life includes both physical health and income. Therefore, the quality of life decreases when people start to lose their jobs and have health complications, which further proves the importance of this problem in regard to quality of life.
There have been several scientific advancements made to help improve the quality of life all over the world. Scientists have found ways to grow larger amounts of food in one area than previously thought possible (“What has science done for you lately?”). With this knowledge, more crops can be grown at a faster rate and more people could grow food. Also, according to Fedoroff et al., in over 300 million acres, GM (genetically modified) crops were planted. The same article states that these crops were planted in 25 different countries. The growing of GM plants means that more of the crops are able to be sold. This could also help provide for those who are starving and in poverty and otherwise would not be able to buy or attain this food any other way. Unfortunately, an extremely large mass of people worldwide is in poverty. The percentage of the population below the poverty line in Zimbabwe in 2012 was 72.3%. In Afghanistan, the percentage of the population below the poverty line is 54.5% (“The World Factbook”). While those were only two examples, many other countries have a similar percentage. That is why growing more food with less land is so beneficial. There are so many people in poverty and farming crops at a normal capacity will not be enough for a few people who have the ability to attain the food, let alone those who do not.
Recent medical discoveries could potentially benefit people all over the world. In 2016, two vaccines that have the possibility of fully preventing the Zika virus were discovered by virologists (“Timeline of Discovery”). In late 2018, the first tests of this vaccine were done on people (“NIH begins clinical trial of live, attenuated Zika vaccine”). If one of these vaccines does have the ability to fully prevent the Zika virus, then there will be a significant amount less of miscarriages caused by the disease. In the United States alone, there were 106 Zika virus cases reported (“Zika Virus”). While the vaccines are not confirmed to be effective yet, it is still important to show that the possibility is there and with more time maybe they will be effective. Also discovered recently, in 2015 a gene variant was found that would help people who have multiple sclerosis be more affected by certain medications (“Timeline of Discovery”). Because these people could be more sensitive to a medication, they would likely be able to take medications that would help the situation. These fairly recent medical discoveries have the potential to help several people all over the world. One person’s physical health affects both themselves and those around them who care about that person. It would affect the finances of the ill person and potentially their family as well.
There is currently a shortage of teachers taking place in the state of Florida. Among these shortages, the category with the least number of teachers properly certified in that field is general sciences (“Identification of Critical Teacher Shortage Areas”). This means that teachers who are teaching science courses are not properly certified to teach that science course. In a situation like this, students may not be taught to the standards set by the county or the state. Therefore, the students would have trouble on state mandated tests or assessments. In Florida, students need to pass or at least take the FSA (Florida Statewide Assessment) for certain courses or they will not graduate. So, if a teacher is not properly mandated by the state to teach the course they are teaching, then they might inhibit a student’s ability to graduate. When something as small as proper certification is in the way of a student’s success, there is a major issue in the system.
While there are several problems posed above, there are some possible solutions to all of these problems. Addressing the problem of smog in Florida, people could be encouraged to use other means of transportation such as public transportation or riding bicycles. There could also be more regulations on the amount of gasses or smoke pumped into the air from factories. Locally, for the lack of properly certified teachers, there could be state mandated checks on all of the teachers more frequently to make sure they are teaching what may be on the exams. When faced with pollution in different parts of the world, citizens should be encouraged to wear face masks when in high pollution areas. This could help lower the amount of pollution people are breathing in and possible help lower the health problems connected to the pollution. Also, globally, there should be more light shed on poverty. While people know it exists, they may not realize how bad of a situation and how prevalent it is. Another solution is promoting health campaigns such as the Red Cross for those who can not afford medical help. Adding food boxes for food drives in classrooms or workplaces to give to those in need would help people that can not afford three meals a day. Promoting the use of more biodegradable objects as opposed to objects that are not biodegradable will help with the pollution issues. Stopping the use of harmful chemicals, like the ingredients in hairspray, would also help the pollution issues.
I learned a significant amount about the world around me after doing this research. Before this project, I did not even know what quality of life is or how it works. I was also completely ignorant about the state of the environment and how bad is has currently gotten. The pollution is a large problem where I am from, but I was not even aware it was a problem. I was, however, still aware that pollution can affect the health of the people living in that area. This changes how I see the effects of pollution. I was also completely ignorant to the amount of people living in poverty. I used to think that people who were suffering from poverty were either stuck in a pre-meditated, bad situation or that they were not trying hard enough to get out of their current situation. Seeing how many people were affected by this made me realize that it is not just one in every several thousand people or so, but is in fact something that affects a large portion of the world. This project has opened my mind to the world around me and all of its different issues.
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