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Social Problems


Population growth affects population composition, the biological and social ... Inexpensive gasoline. Consumer demands for single-family homes on individual lots ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Social Problems

Social Problems
  • Population, Urbanization, and Environmental

World Population GrowthCan this growth be
2007 Population 6.596 Billion
2050 Population 9.198 Billion
Annual Increase 81 million people
World Population Growth
  • Check out the world population clock at
  • http//
  • According to the International Programs Center,
    U.S. Bureau of the Census, the total population
    of the World, projected to 05/11/08 at 2005 GMT
    (EST5) was 6,667,030,460

Impact of Population Growth
  • Population growth affects population composition,
    the biological and social characteristics of a
    population including
  • Age, sex, racialization
  • Marital status
  • Education, occupation, income
  • Size of household
  • For Canada age distribution of population
    affects the need for schools, employment
    opportunities, health care, and age-appropriate

Theoretical Perspectives on Population Growth
  • Malthusian Perspective
  • Population expands geometrically while food
    supply increases arithmetically
  • Disaster can be averted through
  • Positive checks (e.g., famine, disease, and war)
  • Preventive checks (e.g, sexual abstinence and
    delayed marriage)
  • Neo-Malthusian Perspective
  • The Earth is a ticking time bomb because
    population exacerbates environmental problems

The Demographic Transition
  • Stage 1 (Agricultural)
  • Birth rates and death rates are high
  • Population growth rate is low
  • Stage 2 (Transition)
  • Birth rates are high, death rates are low
  • Population growth rate is high
  • Stage 3
  • Birth rates are low, death rates are low
  • Population growth rate is minimal
  • Stage 4 (Post industrial)
  • Stable population

Growth in Less Developed Nations
  • 99 of worlds population growth occurs in less
    developed nations
  • The average doubling time is 40 years
  • The greater the poverty, the higher the fertility
  • Poor parents have large families because they are
    poor larger familylarger workforce

Population Growth and Urbanization
  • See The Urbanization of the World at

Canada 1851 - 2001
  • 1851 13 urban, 87 rural
  • 1901 37 urban, 63 rural
  • 1951 62 urban, 38 rural
  • 2001 80 urban, 20 rural
  • Source http//

Changes in Canadian Cities
  • City a relatively dense and permanent settlement
    of people who earn a living from non-agricultural
  • After WWI, Canada industrialized and shifted to
    urban living
  • After WWII, growth occurred in the suburbs
  • Now 80 of Canadians live in urban areas

Changes in Canadian Cities (cont.)
  • Reasons for move to the suburbs
  • Availability of inexpensive land
  • Low-cost mass construction methods
  • New highway systems
  • Inexpensive gasoline
  • Consumer demands for single-family homes on
    individual lots

Urban Problems in Canada
  • Fiscal cities are given more responsibilities
    for social services without additional sources of
  • Health health costs are greater for the
  • Housing lower rate of home ownership for the
    low-income people

Urban Problems in Canada (cont.)
  • Homelessness
  • 2001 Census counted 14 145 people in shelters on
    Census day. According to Toronto study
  • An increase is occurring among youth and families
    with children
  • 17 stay for a year or more
  • 47 come from outside Toronto
  • Great decline in building, and hence need for
    affordable housing

Urban Problems in Canada
  • Spatial separation of poor and visible minorities
    caused by
  • economics,
  • racialization/ethnicity
  • uneven development
  • Much less prevalent in Canada than in the U.S.,
    but pockets of poverty exist in Canadas cities.

Spatial Separation
  • Generally, a more progressive policy in Canada
    prevents the segregation found in the U.S., but
  • A large increase in visible minorities has
    occurred since 1991 in Vancouver and Toronto
    (both have almost 40 visible minorities) and
  • Spatial separation is occurring more among
    minority groups

Problems (cont.) Urban Poverty
  • Poverty areas Neighborhoods in which at least
    one in five households live below the poverty
  • High-Poverty areas Neighborhoods where at least
    two in five households live below the poverty
  • Shift from rural to urban poverty
  • Child poverty is concentrated in cities

  • Landlords buy properties in poor neighborhoods
    for rent income. They do not maintain these
    properties because to do so would lower their
  • Eg. student ghettoes in London

Urban Housing Crisis
  • Gentrification the redevelopment of poor and
    working-class urban neighborhoods into middle and
    upper-middle-class enclaves often involves
    displacement of original residents
  • Toronto a good example of this

Consequences of Urban Housing Crisis
  • Rent squeeze
  • Fewer families can buy a house
  • Many people squeezed out of urban housing market
  • Urban homelessness increasing
  • Near homeless today are becoming tomorrows

Failed Housing Policies
  • Low-income housing in poor and working-class
    neighborhoods often bulldozed in past
  • Replacement housing often did not provide for
    displaced residents
  • Reduction in supply of low-income housing
  • Halifaxs Africville a famous example

  • In the 1960s the almost entirely Black community
    of Africville which was demolished and its
    residents were displaced to clear land for
    industrial use as well as for the A. Murray
    MacKay Bridge
  • repercussions from this displacement continue to
    this day
  • a 2001 United Nations report has called for
    reparations be paid to the community's former
  • Destruction of Africville (CBC)
  • Africville now (CBC)
  • More on Africville at http//

Problems in Global Cities
  • Almost 50 of the worlds people live in urban
  • Problems include
  • overcrowding
  • environmental pollution
  • disappearance of farm land
  • water shortages

Concentration of Misery in Cities in Developing
  • Population doubling time in cities in developing
    world is 13.5 years
  • Unemployment is a major problem
  • Squatter settlements
  • See reading the Urbanization of the World

Feeding a Growing Urban Population
  • by 2050, nearly 80 of the earth's population
    will reside in urban centers
  • conservative estimates indicate the population
    will increase by about 3 billion people in that
  • estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20
    more land than is represented by the country of
    Brazil) needed to grow enough food by traditional
    farming practices
  • Source http//

Vertical Farming as a Solution to World Hunger?
  • http//

How Does it Work?
  • http//
  • See Popular Science Webpage for more at

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Suburbanization and Sprawl
  • White flight (esp. in US) The movement of
    predominantly upper-middle-class, and working
    class Whites from the central cities to the
  • Urban Sprawl Low-density, automobile-dependent
    development outside the central city
  • Boomburg A suburban city of at least 100,000
    that has experienced double-digit growth each
    decade since it became urban (i.e. Oakville)

Major Effects of Suburbanization
  • Environmental disrupts wildlife habitats, alters
    rivers and streams, causes pollution
  • Economic drains resources from the cities and
    places them in the suburbs
  • Economic causes the loss of jobs in central
  • Increased traffic (more accidents, smog,
    environmental degradation)

Transportation, Pollution, and the Environment
  • Consequences of automobile dependency
  • Traffic jams and congestion Drivers in large
    cities spend an average of 40 hours stuck in
    traffic annually
  • Long commutes result in declined involvement in
    community affairs and higher risks for
    health-related problems
  • North America produces twice as much carbon
    dioxide per capita as Germany, Japan, and Great

Consequences of Auto Dependency (cont.)
  • Each home in a typical new suburban development
    generates an average of 7.5 car trips per day
  • Auto dependency results in environmental
    pollution and a loss of natural resources
  • Auto dependency worsens social isolation in the

Environmental Racism
  • The tendency for poor and minority areas in
    cities and metropolitan areas to be the targets
    of a disproportionate share of illegal dumping
    and the sites where most toxic and hazardous
    waste is disposed
  • i.e. the Pottersburg Creek area in London
  • Africville (listen to Africvilles Roots at
  • These communities also often suffer, as compared
    to more affluent communities, from inadequate

Health and Health Care
  • Poverty and disease are concentrated in the
    central city
  • Infant mortality rates in minority neighbourhoods
    in some US cities are as high, or higher, than
    rates in many developing countries
  • Tuberculosis is on rise
  • AIDS is adding to burden of public city hospitals

Health Facilities
  • Are overwhelmed by number of patients and cost of
    treating them
  • Funding crisis in Canada
  • Urban hospitals treat most urgent first
  • Non-urgent may wait days (or months, as in the
    case of elective surgery) for treatment
  • Hospitals close, amalgamate or remain open by
    cutting high-cost services such as emergency
    rooms and trauma units (eg. St. Josephs hospital
    in London)

Urban Schools
  • Lower transfer payments from federal government
    and increasing reliance on local property taxes
    to finance public schools has led to closing or
    inadequate funding of schools

Crime, Drugs, and Gangs
  • Informal Economy When opportunities are not
    present in the regular legal economy, people in
    poor inner-city neighborhoods often turn to this
    alternative economic exchange and activity for
  • Much of the informal economy is illegal activity
    involving crime and drugs

Population, Urbanization and Environmental
  • Biosphere The surface layer of the planet and
    the surrounding atmosphere
  • Ecosystems The mechanisms (plants, animals, and
    microorganisms) that supply people with the
    essentials of life

Ecosystems are Being Destroyed By
  • Increase in population
  • Growing inequality of income between the rich and
    the poor
  • Economic growth

Environmental Problems (cont.)
  • Environmental Degradation Disruptions to the
    environment that have negative consequences for
  • As humans pursue economic development and growth
    (e.g., industrial output increased 40x in the
    20th century), they cause environmental

Environmental Pollution and Degradation
  • Includes
  • Air Pollution
  • Degradation of the Land
  • Water Pollution
  • Chemical Pollution
  • Solid Waste Pollution
  • Radiation (nuclear) Pollution
  • Resource depletion

Air Pollution
  • Air pollution increased about 5x in the 20th
  • Acid rain rainfall containing large
    concentrations of sulphuric and nitric acids
  • Smog smoke and fog in city air
  • Greenhouse effect (Global warming) excessive
    quantities of CO2, and methane acting like a
    glass roof preventing the escape of radiation
  • Depletion of ozone layer, but hole is shrinking,
  • Toxic pollutants, e.g., carcinogens

Degradation of the Land and Land Loss
  • Topsoil is lost due to plowing of marginal lands,
    urbanization, over use, irrigation, and
  • Fertility of farmland is lost due to overuse,
    damming of rivers, and building of roads
  • Also, major trend in Canada is loss of Class A
    farmland (southwestern Ontario, B.C.) due to

Water, Soil, and Forests
  • Water scarcity is increasing on a global basis
  • Water pollution further diminishes the supply
  • A major water polluter in Canada is the
    paper-manufacturing industry
  • 15 million acres of forest are lost to
    desertification from
  • Overgrazing
  • Harmful agricultural practices,
  • Deforestation (greatest in middle- and low-income
    nations Amazon rain forest)

Water Consumption in Canada
  • Text states in 2001, Canadians consumed 1600 cu.
    metres of water/person/year
  • This works out to 4,380 litres/person/day!!!
  • Note that an average size swimming pool is only
    80,000 litres (80 cu. metres)

Waste Pollution
  • Solid Waste Each Canadian disposes of 0.75
    tonnes of waste per yr., only 30 is recycled
  • Toxic Waste hazardous by-products of industry
    cause death and disease if not disposed of
    properly Canada imports it from U.S.
  • Nuclear Waste Canadians generate more nuclear
    waste per capita than does the U.S. or Britain

Global Dependence on Fossil Fuels
  • Fossil Fuels are coal, oil, and natural gas
  • The world consumes 75,810,000 billion barrels of
    oil a day
  • The worldwide demand for fossil fuels will rise
    sharply as developing nations industrialize and
  • See handout on clean coal (Globe and Mail)

Destruction of the Tropical Rain Forests
  • Rain forests are destroyed primarily by burning,
    which produces clouds of smoke that block the sun
    and change the weather
  • Rain forest destruction means the destruction of
    plants that absorb carbon dioxide
  • Rain forest destruction destroys diversity in
    plant and animal life

Global Warming
  • Greenhouse Effect when gasses accumulate in the
    earths atmosphere and act like the glass roof of
    a greenhouse, allowing sunlight in but trapping
    the heat that is generated

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Natural Disasters
  • Deaths from natural disasters are increasing,
    especially in poorer nations (International
    Strategy for Disaster Reduction, UN)
  • Number of disasters and global death toll
  • 53,000 killed in 261 events, 1990 (ISDR)
  • 83,000 killed in 337 events, 2003 (ISDR)
  • 180,000 killed in 650 events, 2004
  • See additional data at http//

Risk Factors
  • Risk factors identified by ISDR city growth,
    climate change, environmental degradation
  • more people are living in concentrated urban
    areas and in slums with poor building standards
    and a lack of facilities
  • urban migrants tend to settle on exposed
    stretches of land either on seismic faults,
    flooding plains or on landslide-prone slopes

Natural Disaster Study
  • Tufts University study done by Kahn (2003) found
    that while rich and poor countries tended to
    experience same numbers of natural disasters,
    death tolls in poorer countries are much higher
    than in richer countries
  • Democracies and nations having higher quality
    institutions (disaster relief programs, health
    care, better housing standards, etc.) suffer less
    from natural disasters

2008 Disasters Global Food Crisis and Cyclone
Nargis (Myanmar)
  • Recent press release by ISDR attributes the
    global food shortage to both natural and social
    causes drought and unsustainable water
    management (
  • Myanmar cyclone in the spring added to the
    problem when countrys rice crop destroyed

Socio-cultural Sources of Environmental Problems
  • Cultural Sources
  • Cornucopia View of Nature the belief that nature
    is a vast and bountiful storehouse to be used by
    human beings
  • Faith in Technology
  • Growth Ethic

Sources of Problems (cont.)
  • Cultural Sources
  • Materialism
  • Planned obsolescence Existing products are given
    superficial changes and marketed as new, making
    the previous product out of date
  • Belief in Individualism

Social Structural Sources of Environmental
  • Structural Sources
  • Capitalist economy
  • Polity
  • Demographic patterns
  • System of stratification
  • Environmental Racism the poor, because of
    dangerous jobs and residential segregation, are
    more exposed than the more well-to-do to
    environmental dangers

International Implications of Environmental
  • Environmental problems are not confined within
    political borders
  • Example U.S. and Canada
  • Problems require solutions on two levels
  • Physical level
  • Social level

Perspectives Functionalist
  • Focus is on relationship among social structure,
    technological change, and environmental problems
  • Latent dysfunctions of technology cause problems,
    but new technologies can solve them
  • Social institutions, especially education and
    government, can cooperate to solve the problems
  • Sustainable development Can we meet our needs
    without compromising our descendents needs?

Perspectives Conflict
  • Focuses on power differentials
  • Classic Marxist Workers are exploited for
    profits and population growth is encouraged to
    create more workers
  • Contemporary conflict Corporations and
    government make economic decisions that result in
    environmental problems

Perspectives Interactionist and Feminist
  • Interactionist
  • Focus on peoples definitions.
  • Challenge, by socialization, widely held beliefs
    about individualism and anthropocentric
  • Feminist
  • Ecofeminism Patriarchy is a root cause of
    environmental problems, as nature is viewed as
    something to be possessed and dominated.

The Future
  • Canada has one of the lowest rankings on
    environmentally sustainable lifestyles according
    to a National Geographic survey using the
    Greendex index
  • (see http//
  • We need to
  • Reduce use of energy
  • Shift from fossil fuels to energy-efficient
    systems (see clean coal article)
  • Develop new transportation systems
  • Create new opportunities for the poor
  • Push for equality of women in all nations
  • Move to smaller families
  • Cooperate internationally to reduce consumption
    of resources (esp. oil and water)

Video An Inconvenient Truth
  • An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore
  • Paramount Classics 2006