In analyzing the meaning of a social problem, it can be said that it is any condition or behavior that affects the larger population negatively. There are usually parties whose interest is to address the social problem. An example of a social problem in sociology is climate change. The social problem increases the intensity of weather events such as floods and droughts. Through such events, climate change causes disruptions in society in different ways. Thus, climate change qualifies to be a social problem in sociology.
People who have experiences with climate change have had shared undesirable conditions through social inequality. Climate change disrupts agriculture, water resources, health, among other consequences (Islam & Winkel, 2017). These consequences cause undesirable conditions such as poverty which affects the majority of the people involved. People would also go through a disruption in development. In this case, a concept such as shared socio-economic pathways could be used to analyze the undesirable conditions of climate change, such as human development (Islam & Winkel, 2017). Households may end up suffering undesirable conditions such as moving in and out of poverty due to disruption of prices, opportunities, assets, and productivity brought about by climate change (Islam & Winkel, 2017). Such people face problems that others do not necessarily have to face in life. Firstly, they might have greater exposure to hazards. They would also face greater social inequality compared to other people. This is because their loss of assets and income becomes disproportionate. Lastly, such people would have less ability to cope and recover from the damages caused by climate change as they could be massive.
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The disadvantaged or vulnerable group in society is mainly the one with the problem of climate change. This can be justified as the disadvantaged people are frequently compelled to live in climate change-prone areas (Islam & Winkel, 2017). Such areas include places prone to flooding, making them the major victim of this social problem. The disadvantaged group is compelled to such life mainly due to social inequality. For instance, the disadvantaged group is more likely to be susceptible to flooding damage among people living in flood-prone areas. This is probably because disadvantaged people have flimsy materials that cannot withstand floods. Other people with relatively well-to-do houses suffer less damage as they are built of sturdier materials that can withstand floods.
In contrast to the well-up people in society, the disadvantaged group may suffer the entire loss caused by climate change. For instance, the well-up group might have insurance that would compensate them in case of such a social problem. On the other hand, the disadvantaged group may fail to afford such insurance. According to Global data, 2016 was the second warmest year after 2012 in the continental United States (Rosso Grossman, 2018). The 2016 Global data showed climate-related disasters such as drought, storms, and floods, which caused losses of approximately more than $1 billion (Rosso Grossman, 2018).
Additionally, Federal programs also acknowledge climate change as a social problem and develop ways of mitigating the issue. An example of a federal program is the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan which recognizes climate change as a social problem and thus promised to come up with mitigations of adapting to climate change in the United States (Rosso Grossman, 2018). However, some recent developments have diluted federal efforts, denouncing climate change as a problem. For example, in 2017, President Trump revoked the significant Obama-administration climate change policies, likely to increase climate change (Rosso Grossman, 2018).
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Other people are in denial of climate change as a social problem. An example is Frederick Buttel and his co-workers. He was an American sociologist who, for a long time, served as chair for many sociological organizations (Hansson, 2020). According to Frederick Buttel and his co-workers, there had been premature stress on the global change as a problem. They chastised politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and the press for accepting global climate change (Hansson, 2020). Additionally, they criticized other sociologists who supported recognizing global warming as being more or less of value. Frederick Buttel and his co-workers were surprised by how global climate change gained extraordinary respectability.
Hansson, S. (2020). Social constructionism and climate science denial. European Journal For Philosophy Of Science, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-020-00305-w
Islam, S., & Winkel, J. (2017). Climate Change and Social Inequality | Multimedia Library – United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Un.org. Retrieved 18 January 2022, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/working-paper/wp152. Rosso Grossman, M. (2018). Climate Change and the Individual. The American Journal Of Comparative