Povertyis a social problem that effects almost half of the entire world’s population. Theeffects of poverty are far reaching and severe. People living in poverty areless likely to have access to education, good jobs, nutritious food, cleanwater, and health care. Lack of education and job choices makes it nearlyimpossible for these people to work their way out of poverty. Difficultyfinding access to good foods and clean water leads to an increase in health-relatedissues, and then they have a harder time obtaining the health care they needbecause of it. Many people consider industrialization inAmerica to have been good for the poor citizens who were then able to find workin factories, but overall, it didn’t get rid of poverty in the United States,it just changed the appearance of it.
In other parts of the world,industrialization sometimes made things much worse. Industrialization in Europeresulted in India, then under British rule, being forced to destroy all theircotton mills and send their cotton straight to Europe to be processed. Thus, Europebecame one of the leading textile manufacturers, while India became much pooreras a whole. Europe next turned its eye to Ireland and began limiting theirland, which was directly responsible for the potato famine that cost up to 25%of the population their lives, and many more their livelihoods. As machines began taking over tasksin factories, there were less jobs available for the working class.
Desperatefor money, families often had women and children working in the factories aswell. Working in a factory left no timefor those children to get an education, which further spawned the cycle oflower class citizens being unable to work their way up. This is still true in alot of places. As for social media, there are waysin which it helps, but also ways in which it doesn’t. With social media and theinternet, we have access to a world of information at our fingertips. Usingsocial media sites and blogs, it is much easier to spread the word about acause you’re invested in, which means more young people are becoming aware of importantpublic issues.
Another benefit is that when people really do want to createchange, it is easier than ever to raise awareness and money. Websites likeGoFundMe can be shared across Facebook and Twitter to have people donatingwithin seconds. The downside is that the internet allowspeople to have a certain amount of detachment from things. Seeing evidence ofthe devastating effects of poverty on the world may make someone realize thatthere is a problem, but that doesn’t mean they will do anything to change it.
AuthorShane Hipps refers to this as “empathy at a distance.” People can feel likethey are helping, simply by caring, not acting. As much as social media has thepower to foster change, so far, it has failed to do so. Poverty may also be affected by another socialissue that the world is facing, climate change. Poor neighborhoods andcountries are ill equipped to handle the extreme weather changes that causefloods and droughts, and people living in poverty are less likely to have airconditioning when temperatures rise and it becomes necessary to avoid heat-relatedillnesses.
Climate change is a poverty multiplier, because it increases the povertypopulation and makes those who are already poor more so. It will also makethose already vulnerable, like elderly and children, more so. A 2016 study posted in Nature, an internationaljournal of science, presents evidence that global warming started much earlierthan we originally thought, noting increases in temperature immediatelyfollowing the Industrial Revolution, as early as the 1830’s. Industrializationcaused people to begin burning fossil fuels on mass scales, which led to anincrease in pollution and greenhouse gases. Since then, our ecological footprinthas only increased as we become more and more dependent on technology as ourway of life. We are burning more and more fossil fuels to generate electricity,manufacture goods, and fuel our forms of travel.
Social media has been instrumental inraising awareness about climate change and the dangers. There are still peoplewho don’t believe in it, but through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagramand YouTube, it has been much easier to spread the important information to alarge audience and begin changing minds. There is a website calledClimaMedia.
com which revolves around taking important scientific research relatedto climate change and translating it from something only scientists canunderstand, into something the general public can understand. They make short,to the point, videos that allow people to see for themselves the damage andchanges arising from climate change. This is important because people are morelikely to act on something if they understand it. Unfortunately, as socialmedia makes it easier to spread knowledge about climate change, it also makesit easier for uninformed people to spread false information to other uninformedpeople.