Recently, scientists suggest that we (people) have changed the earth’s biosphere at a rate, and magnitude that meets or exceeds past geological boundaries. Not only has the population boomed at an alarming rate, but ecological problems are becoming unavoidable.
Scientists believe that we have entered a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene. This new era has brought along complex and challenging social problems that affect individuals negatively. For humans, our first threshold occurred after the domestication of livestock, plants, and the creation of agriculture.
The second threshold happened after the acquisition of coal, oil, and other unsustainable sources of energy that release harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. These events among others sadly cause profound changes to the planet whose impacts we are contending with. By connecting the negative externalities of climate change to social issues like refugees, and gender inequality I will emphasize the link between environmental change and social work.
The consideration of tipping points encourages urgent climate action, yet efforts to prioritize the issue are minimal.
Climate change is a wicked problem with an enormous complexity that makes it extremely difficult to tackle. Greenhouse gases are produced in virtually every sector of our lives. Industry, agriculture, and the transportation sector rely heavily on energy. For example, the modern food system contributes to one-quarter of the planet’s greenhouse gases. When forests are cleared, large stores of carbon are released which heats up the planet. Alternatively, when cows, sheep, and goats digest their food they burp methane contributing to climate change.
Fossil fuels roam in the food sector including the shipping process and machinery. Such processes have altered the climate to the point where its effects are felt throughout the world. This relates to the conflict of Yemen because IDP’s are affected by climate change which alters the land of surrounding cities and contributes to the existing famine.
Similar to climate change the conflict of Yemen is complex. Instability began when a rapid transition from a president who has been in power for twenty-two years occurred. The Yemen conflict is the aftermath of the Arab spring movement that argued Abdula Saleh has been the leader for so long it no longer felt like a democracy. On February 25, 2012 president Saleh resigns and transfers power to Abrabbuh Mansour Hadi but problems arise when the separatist movement in the south threatened to break away and mixed military loyalties arose. The Houthi rebels wanted to take power, restore order, and ultimately exile Hadi. Rebels and other actors are trying to obtain power and in early 2005 Houthi forces take control of the capital city. The Houthis team up with military forces loyal to Saleh and wanted to push Hadi loyalists out, and arrangement of sheer convenience. After Hadi flees Yemen in 2015 there is no one who can request international aid and things start getting ugly. Shortly afterward, the Saudi alliance began bombing raids to restore Hadi and other countries began getting involved. One of the most inhumane practices was using food as a weapon during the blockade of Yemen led by the Saudi coalition. When the port was blocked medicine and food became scarce. You starve people and put them at risk as a strategy. The humanitarian disaster worsens and nearly fifty percent of medical facilities were destroyed while famine, hunger, and malnutrition became a major issue. Families and people not taking part in the conflict are affected, many decide to leave. The people who decide to leave can be referred to as internally displaced people or refugees. In the article, Climate Change is Aggravating the Suffering in Yemen, Emily Atkin further explores the connection between climate change and its effect on Yemen through an interview. Moosa Elayah explains how the city Ibb used to be full of greenery, but the place has undergone drastic transformations that have torn its agricultural history. The world health organization reveals that about a quarter of Yemen’s IDPs finds refuge in Ibb. We must note that climate change itself is not causing the famine but it adds to people’s suffering because reduced rainfall results in poor harvests resulting in less food during the famine. Drought has also diminished the water supply worsening existing conditions. In hindsight, climate change transcends beyond environmental issues, and countries suffering wars are concisely struggling with the changing climate.
Our first climate refugees consist of people living near the coastlines whose property was destroyed by high tides. At a local level, rising seas can severely change the shoreline of San Francisco Bay. The Bay Area allowed people to build homes in the coastlines putting homes in the risk of flooding. Such houses tend to be of great property value and if they are destroyed the issue of recovery for those who have nowhere else to go is complicated. There are two options for combating sea level rise either to mitigate or leave. The latter sounds simple, but leaving your home is not as easy as it sounds. You can also try to defend your property by raising defenses. On the other side of the planet in a city called Manila are experiencing flooding in the already poor stricken neighborhood. In the article, A Crisis Right Now: San Francisco and Manila Face Rising Seas global climate reporter Somini Sengupta connects the effects of rising sea levels of San Francisco to Manila. Desiree Alay-ay, a resident of Manila explains how the low lying neighborhood she grew up in is being consumed by the ocean. The worries are stressful that she has considered moving elsewhere with her family but she cannot afford to move. Around the world, families like Alay-ay’s are forced to stay near the coastlines compromising their family’s safety because they cannot move. Contrary to San Francisco, Alay-ay’s city does not invest huge amounts of money for mitigation purposes and the overall population consists of low-income residents. All around the world, many families cannot bear the cost of moving but some do it anyway and become climate refugees. Rising sea levels are threatening residencies and jeopardize the future of vulnerable communities. Yet, there seems to be a gap in international law because people who lose their homes due to environmental disasters are not considered “refugees”. Similarly, the article Nowhere to Go by Alexander Betts reveals the push and pull factors that convince people to flee their country. Some push factors include violence, economic insecurity, and food insecurities to name a few. Betts explains how since the summer of 2018 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have grown unstable because of droughts that lead to crop failures. In the same way that climate change drives people out of their homes due to sea-level rise, it also affects crop yields that lead to the outmigration. There is no doubt that climate change interacts with drivers of refugee movements like the families in Manila and many Latin American countries. Caring about climate change is important to learn about its negative externalities and how not acting gives rise to an array of humanitarian issues.
Not only does climate change affect our environment but eco-anxiety affects humans psychologically. The effects of eco-anxiety include fear, immobilization, exhaustion, insomnia, and depression. These issues cause personal harm in terms of people’s ecological stress. A product of eco-anxiety is activist Greta Thunberg. In her TED talk, Thunberg tells the audience about her eco-anxiety and how that has influenced the person she is today. She explains how at the age of fourteen she stopped eating and talking as her concern about climate change escalated her mind. Over the years Greta’s activism began to alleviate some of her symptoms. Thunberg questions why there are few restrictions on fossil fuels and why we don’t pay more attention to climate change. Since her speeches in the UN and activist work all over the world, she has become an inspiration for the young generation. Some can even say that she is the face of the climate movement. Although Greta is voicing her opinion and speaking on behalf of what she believes is correct she is being targeted by middle-aged men. In the article Why angry middle-aged men are so threatened by Greta Thunberg Meg Vertigan and Camila Nelson shed light on violence against women in politics. The authors explain that critics of Greta undermine her authority by claiming she is too young and unstable. Such labels are often used by men to strengthen gender roles and silence women’s speech. Thunberg and her difficulties as an activist relate to the article Violence of Women in Politics by Mona Lena Krook because they both reveal that the number of women involved in politics is increasing. Krook emphasizes that these women bring more attention to policy issues and inspire younger women to break gender roles. Yet as women involvement in politics rise the number of physical attacks towards woman have increased too. Eco-anxiety inspired Greta to be involved in politics and now she has inspired many other women to break gender-based ideologies. Despite being critiqued and attacked by men it is clear that a new generation of women in politics will soon emerge. Instead of intimidating the upcoming female politicians, we must accept them in good light to promote equal access to politics.
In our contemporary world, climate change has always been a topic of debate, and misinformation comes along with it. One of the most critical roles for citizens is to tell truth from lies because sometimes our health and lives depend on it. During these times of uncertainty, the need for reliable information is important. In the article Misinformation is a danger to public health, Rupert Murdoch explains how Fox News is credited for being reliable yet their viewers are at special risk from the coronavirus. The most recent news topic refers to COVID-19, a new illness that affects the human respiratory system and can be lethal. Even the most reputable news sources make mistakes and fall into the cycle of misinformation which spread inaccuracies that are harmful to society. The article emphasizes viewers of Fox News have been witnessing and processing false information related to COVID-19 and its harms . For example, the news channel has been promoting misleading recommendations of untested drugs and activities that people should engage in which can be harmful. When someone with credibility makes false claims it misleads the public about risks and harms In this case, misinformation furthers the reach and the dangers of the pandemic. The most recent piece of misinformation occurred when the U.S president suggested that an injection with disinfectant can help fight the virus. I mean what was he thinking! Misinformation occurs all over the world and is affecting the way we receive knowledge. Similar to the dangers of misinformation on public health, there is also the risk of security breaches that can lead to the manipulation of public opinion. Misinformation connects to cyberlaw because it is difficult to tackle the vast amounts of misinformation that are out there. Of course, there are steps we can take to weed out inaccuracies. Such steps include focusing on credible sources, questioning the source, and being aware of how our own biases affect the way we approach a source. In hindsight, climate change among other information is subject to inaccuracies that have negative externalities.