The global environment will become the most important global issue within this century | Teen Ink

The global environment will become the most important global issue within this century

February 6, 2010
By dadeku1 BRONZE, Berlin, Maryland
dadeku1 BRONZE, Berlin, Maryland
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As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead put it, “we won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.” The global environment’s impact on the economic, political, and social welfare of humankind is immense. On this basis, I am in full compliance with the assertion that the global environment will be the forerunning issue of the 21st century. As the state of the global environment continues to decline, global environmental issues will undoubtedly take precedence before all others. Due to the nature of the current global environmental issues and advancements in communication, the impact that an individual contributor can have in improving the state of the global environment has the potential to be dramatic.
Observing the influence that pollution issues and investments in environmental initiatives have on the global economy makes it apparent that the state of the global economy is directly related to the state of the global environment. Pollution is responsible for decreased overall biodiversity, proliferation of disease, alteration of geographical landscapes and climatic patterns, as well as depletion of the ozone. Ultimately, all of these issues have a negative affect on the global economy. By isolating the issue of decreased air quality, one issue caused by pollution, a better understanding of the degree of influence pollution has on the economy can be ascertained. Inhaling polluted air leads to illness, disease, and sometimes death. Individuals suffering from such health conditions must seek treatment; this results in missed days from work, and increased childcare expenses and medication costs. According to the World Bank, air pollution costs citizens of Ontario, Canada at least one billion dollars annually in hospital admissions, visits to the emergency room, and worker absenteeism. The organization also asserts that air pollution in China, a country with poor air quality, costs the nation five percent of the gross domestic product annually ( In contrast, Investments in the global environment can create long-term economic growth through the creation of new job markets .The Green Jobs act of 2007 is an instance of this kind of investment. According to the act, the government is to invest $125 million yearly in jobs nationally. Projections of the acts influence on the economy suggest that 35, 000 people a year will be trained in environmentally friendly jobs. These people include low-income workers, and workers that will be trained new techniques to ensure continued employment in the increasingly environmentally focused world. At the heart of global society is the global economy, because global environmental issues having such a profound influence on the state of the global economy, both positively and negatively, they will be hard to ignore in the current century.
Global environmental issues have become an increasingly significant challenge for government officials. Many scientists are proclaiming that the current state of the global environment is an issue of paramount concern. For instance, according to Harvard professor and scientist Michael McElroy, director of Harvard’s Center for the Environment, the dramatic increase in CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere is alarming. Current CO2 levels are higher than they have been in the past 450, 000 years. If the rates continue to increase, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will double. This dramatic increase in concentration can potentially yield a complete change in the earth’s atmosphere. Government officials around the globe are being plagued by environmental indications such as this one. Creating political policy on global environmental issues is challenging, because the issues are complex in nature and scientists are not in accordance with each other regarding interpretation of environmental research results. Although major nations around the globe have come together at conferences, such as the G8 Summit in June 2008, and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, no specific goals and programs have been developed to tackle global environmental issues. A large number of scientific indications point to the fact that if the state of the global environment continues to decline at its current rate life on earth as humans know it may not be possible long after the 21st century. Therefore, government officials will have to develop global resolutions for environmental issues, set goals for these resolutions, and develop programs that can achieve these goals within this century.
Public health became a major sociological concern post-World War II, as a result of increased governmental research. Today, global environmental issues are jeopardizing public health, and research is determining the extent of these risks. Pollution and poor air quality is resulting in increased occurrences of disease and premature death. According to a study conducted by members of The London Assembly’s environmental committee, in 2009, poor air quality is to blame for nearly 3,000 premature deaths annually in London alone. The study also states that, ‘substances such as nitrous oxide, fine particulates and ground level ozone present in the atmosphere lead to heart and lung disease, among other conditions,’ ( Social concerns such as this one are not going to dissipate anytime soon, and if the state of pollution and air quality continue to decline, future populations are going to be faced with even more health risk factors than populations are experiencing today.
“The future is in our hands," says Stephen Carpenter, a zoology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Global environmental issues should not be likened to incurable, irreversible diseases. They are real issues with feasible solutions, but the only way these issues can be solved is for individuals to reduce their carbon footprints, and invest in sustainable materials. As colossal as these issues are, the fact remains that one person can make a difference especially in the 21st century where technological advancements, in terms of Internet communication and instant messaging, have made international communication practical and fast. It is the simplest of acts that have made the greatest impacts on the environmental movement. For example, Rachel Carson, a writer and ecologist, made a difference in global environmental awareness her through books and lyrical prose. The nature of her writings became the foundation of the environmental movement. There are many activists like her, ranging from former vice-president Al Gore to Sierra Club founder John Muir, but there is a common thread through all of their stories. They decided to act on the issues they observed, and by doing so they have brought attention worldwide to environmental issues.
There is no denying that global environmental issues are going to continue to get worse if nothing is done to solve them. Such issues will yield catastrophic results on the economic, political, and social levels in the 21st century if the global environment’s status continues to decline at its current rate. The decisions humankind makes from here on out to solve these issues are crucial.

-Danielle A. Adekunle

Works Cited
1.Boehm, Paul. Gearing Up to Meet Global Environmental Challenges. Retrieved January 17, 2010, from Battelle website:
2.Campbell, Dennis. (2009, April 26). Poor Air Quality ‘killing thousands’ in London. Retrieved January 17, 2010, from The Observer Website:
3.Environmental Policy Issues. (2009, September). Retrieved January 22, 2010, from News Batch website:
4.Gehrman, Elizabeth. (2002, November 14). McElroy Says its time to stop seeing Global Warming as Political Issue. Retrieved January 30, 2010, from Harvard Gazette website:

The author's comments:
Watching the news and listening to current issues made me realize that people around the world are focusing on the wrong things. The economy, politics, and social issues are all significant concerns, but the fact is that society, global economy, and politics would not exist without a stable and habitable environment.

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