Poverty
is a social problem that effects almost half of the entire world’s population. The
effects of poverty are far reaching and severe. People living in poverty are
less likely to have access to education, good jobs, nutritious food, clean
water, and health care. Lack of education and job choices makes it nearly
impossible for these people to work their way out of poverty. Difficulty
finding access to good foods and clean water leads to an increase in health-related
issues, and then they have a harder time obtaining the health care they need
because of it.

Many people consider industrialization in
America to have been good for the poor citizens who were then able to find work
in 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 Europe
resulted in India, then under British rule, being forced to destroy all their
cotton mills and send their cotton straight to Europe to be processed. Thus, Europe
became one of the leading textile manufacturers, while India became much poorer
as a whole. Europe next turned its eye to Ireland and began limiting their
land, which was directly responsible for the potato famine that cost up to 25%
of the population their lives, and many more their livelihoods.

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            As machines began taking over tasks
in factories, there were less jobs available for the working class. Desperate
for money, families often had women and children working in the factories as
well.  Working in a factory left no time
for those children to get an education, which further spawned the cycle of
lower class citizens being unable to work their way up. This is still true in a
lot of places.

            As for social media, there are ways
in which it helps, but also ways in which it doesn’t. With social media and the
internet, we have access to a world of information at our fingertips. Using
social media sites and blogs, it is much easier to spread the word about a
cause you’re invested in, which means more young people are becoming aware of important
public issues. Another benefit is that when people really do want to create
change, it is easier than ever to raise awareness and money. Websites like
GoFundMe can be shared across Facebook and Twitter to have people donating
within seconds.

The downside is that the internet allows
people to have a certain amount of detachment from things. Seeing evidence of
the devastating effects of poverty on the world may make someone realize that
there is a problem, but that doesn’t mean they will do anything to change it. Author
Shane Hipps refers to this as “empathy at a distance.” People can feel like
they are helping, simply by caring, not acting. As much as social media has the
power to foster change, so far, it has failed to do so.

Poverty may also be affected by another social
issue that the world is facing, climate change. Poor neighborhoods and
countries are ill equipped to handle the extreme weather changes that cause
floods and droughts, and people living in poverty are less likely to have air
conditioning when temperatures rise and it becomes necessary to avoid heat-related
illnesses. Climate change is a poverty multiplier, because it increases the poverty
population and makes those who are already poor more so. It will also make
those already vulnerable, like elderly and children, more so.   

A 2016 study posted in Nature, an international
journal of science, presents evidence that global warming started much earlier
than we originally thought, noting increases in temperature immediately
following the Industrial Revolution, as early as the 1830’s. Industrialization
caused people to begin burning fossil fuels on mass scales, which led to an
increase in pollution and greenhouse gases. Since then, our ecological footprint
has only increased as we become more and more dependent on technology as our
way 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 in
raising awareness about climate change and the dangers. There are still people
who don’t believe in it, but through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
and YouTube, it has been much easier to spread the important information to a
large audience and begin changing minds. There is a website called
ClimaMedia.com which revolves around taking important scientific research related
to climate change and translating it from something only scientists can
understand, into something the general public can understand. They make short,
to the point, videos that allow people to see for themselves the damage and
changes arising from climate change. This is important because people are more
likely to act on something if they understand it. Unfortunately, as social
media makes it easier to spread knowledge about climate change, it also makes
it easier for uninformed people to spread false information to other uninformed
people.