Climate change is one of the biggest issues of discussion in the world today and is already affecting societies around the globe. North America, being one of the most influential areas of the planet, has the added pressure of setting the proper example in preparing its society to adjust for the possible changes to be made in regards to climate change. Given the economic power that North America holds over various countries worldwide, the decisions and actions that are taken are going to have a direct impact on the other nations as well. The US is put in a place of control when it comes to the matter of climate change, and as a result, if the US continues to deny the changes that are occurring in the world of today, other countries will continue to suffer and will not be able to take the necessary actions in order to prevent the downfall of their own societies. Actions are starting to be taken by both the government and non-governmental organizations, who are trying to inform the general public on what the current situation is with climate change and the possible outcomes. There is a clear effort being made to help slow down, or even prevent climate change from making a large impact on society, but if there is a major impact, unfortunately society will not be able to cope accordingly. The programs to prepare society for the worst to come exist, but there is not enough focus on these programs to get the message across. If this information is not distributed around the world, and if this subject is not taken seriously, human civilization could very well already be on its way to downfall. North America is taking steps in order to prepare its population for change in order to deal with climate change and make sure that society is affected as little as possible. In order for the world to be able to tackle the subject of climate change, all nations will have to come together and educate their own people on the dangers and potential problematic outcomes of this ongoing shift in the world’s climate, starting with the United States.
The governments of North America have programs which are made to inform the general public about the current situation of climate change; however, there is not enough emphasis put on these programs to convey this message to societies. It is a known fact that climate change is one of the main issues of discussion in the world today, and that it is going to take a global effort in order to get results. North America is one of the leading polluters of today, and therefore it is extremely important for the US to be aware of what is happening in terms of climate change. The United States government has programs that are specifically designed to inform the general public about what is going on with climate change and what can be done to prevent it, cope with it, and prepare for the worst. “This is despite the fact that the reports of several governmental agencies in the United States and around the world cite human activity as one of, if not the primary driver of global climate change,” (Nagel et al, 2008). The programs exist, the government is aware of what needs to be done, but there is simply not enough focus on these programs. For example, on June 16th, 2009, the White House helped launch the Global Climate Change Impacts on the United States report, which is a representation of thirteen agencies that, in the course of a year and a half, focused on potential climate change impacts on the United States. Yet, a large group of the United States public is completely unaware of the fact that this report was written. Sadly, the government knows this and even takes it into account, as stated in the document “Responses to climate change impacts in the United States will almost certainly evolve over timeâ€¦ Implementing these response strategies will require careful planning and continual feedback on the impacts of policies for government, industry, and society,” (Waple, 2009). Non-governmental organizations are the ones at the front lines, informing the general public one person at a time, letting people know what steps need to be taken in order to cope with, or even prevent climate change. Even though these organizations are putting in the hours of effort to inform the public, the majority of people shy away from the NGO’s and choose to not take them seriously and not regard this as a real problem that will eventually have an impact on the world.
北美政府制定了向公众宣传气候变化现状的计划；然而，对这些计划的重视不够，不足以向社会传达这一信息。众所周知，气候变化是当今世界讨论的主要问题之一，需要全球共同努力才能取得成果。北美是当今主要的污染国之一，因此对美国来说，了解气候变化方面正在发生的事情非常重要。美国政府制定了专门设计的计划，旨在让公众了解气候变化正在发生的情况，以及可以采取哪些措施来预防、应对和为最坏的情况做准备。 “尽管事实上美国和世界各地的几个政府机构的报告都将人类活动列为全球气候变化的主要驱动因素之一，”（Nagel 等人，2008 年）。这些计划是存在的，政府知道需要做什么，但对这些计划没有足够的关注。例如，2009 年 6 月 16 日，白宫帮助发布了《全球气候变化对美国的影响》报告，该报告代表 13 个机构，在一年半的时间里，重点关注潜在的气候变化影响在美国。然而，一大群美国公众完全不知道这份报告是写成的。可悲的是，政府知道这一点，甚至考虑到这一点，正如“美国对气候变化影响的应对措施几乎肯定会随着时间的推移而发展”中所述政府、行业和社会的政策”（Waple，2009 年）。非政府组织是第一线的组织，一次只通知一个人，让人们知道需要采取哪些措施来应对甚至预防气候变化。尽管这些组织花费了数小时的时间向公众宣传，但大多数人都回避了非政府组织，并选择不认真对待它们，也不认为这是一个最终会对世界产生影响的真正问题。
In order for the human race to respond appropriately to the results that climate change will have on society, people have to be made aware of the expected outcomes. As stated by the National Assessment Synthesis Team in Washington, D.C. “Climate change will affect different segments of society differently because of their varying exposures and adaptive capacities” (NAST, 2000). There are many different environmental issues that the world is being faced with. Some are local, where others will have an impact on a global scale. Environmental issues are comprised of social interactions and natural phenomena, “in this sense, they are hybrid issues of society and the environment,” (Giddens, 2009). Due to the amplification of social awareness dealing with environmental problems in the 1970s, sociology has focused part of its reasearch on global climate change, known as environmental sociology. Environmental sociologists study the complex and versatile relationship between human beings and their natural environments, which also covers the question of why social systems have a tendency to exceed their ecological carrying capability.
为了让人类对气候变化对社会产生的影响做出适当的反应，人们必须意识到预期的结果。正如华盛顿特区的国家评估综合小组所说，“气候变化将对社会的不同阶层产生不同的影响，因为它们的暴露和适应能力不同”（NAST，2000 年）。世界正面临着许多不同的环境问题。有些是本地的，有些会在全球范围内产生影响。环境问题由社会互动和自然现象组成，“从这个意义上说，它们是社会和环境的混合问题”（Giddens，2009 年）。由于 1970 年代处理环境问题的社会意识增强，社会学将部分研究重点放在全球气候变化上，即环境社会学。环境社会学家研究人类与其自然环境之间复杂而多样的关系，这也涵盖了为什么社会系统倾向于超过其生态承载能力的问题。
The report done on understanding climate change suggests that there are certain areas of research that scientists must take as a priority. These areas include “1) human activities that alter the earth’s environment; 2) forces that drive these activities; 3) consequences of environmental changes for societies and economies; and 4) how humans respond to these changes,” (Nagel et al, 2008).The main issues that the world has to deal with are pollution and waste, resource depletion, genetic modification of food, and global warming. Air pollution clearly has a global influence, and is mainly caused by ‘outdoor pollution’, produced mainly by industrial pollutants, and ‘indoor pollution’, causes by burning fuels at home such as heating. Human societies depend on natural resources from the planet – wood, water, plant life, animals. These are mainly classified as renewable resources, however, if there is no balance between consumption and reproduction, there is a risk that there will be no more left. Rapid population and economic growth in the arid and semi-arid regions of Southern California, the central valley of California, and the front range of the Rocky Mountains has radically increased exposure to water shortages (NAST, 2000). Along with consumption rates, “population shifts and development choices are making more Americans vulnerable to the expected impacts of climate change,” (NAST, 2000). North America being one of the more heavily populated areas in the world also raises the vulnerability of the specific regions that are densly populated. “The four most populous states in 2000 – California, Texas, Florida, and New York – accounted for 38 percent of the total growth in U.S. population during that time, and share significant vulnerability to coastal storms, severe drought, sea-level rise, air pollution, and urban heat island effectsâ€¦Over 80 percent of the U.S. population resides in urban areas, which are among the most rapidly changing environments on Earth,” (NAST, 2000).
In some cases the negative outcomes of climate change do not directly affect North America, but the nations that supply North America with their export. Which in turn also has a negative affect on North America. The main component of climate change, which is global warming, has the most noticeable impact on societies, “scientists have recently estimated that global warming kills about 160,000 people every year” (Giddens, 2009). In general, the groups of people that are going to be affected the most are the youth, the elderly, and the economically disadvantaged (NAST, 2000). This is due to the fact that people who are at a disadvantage, socially and monetarily, are unable to acquire the resources necessary in order to cope with these changes. The rise in global temperatures during the summer and the fall of temperatures during the winter are at an all time high and low, respectively, and human beings are not prepared to the best of their abilities, and consequently human beings are the ones who are losing the battle against the shift in climate.
在某些情况下，气候变化的负面结果不会直接影响北美，而是会影响向北美提供出口的国家。这反过来也对北美产生了负面影响。气候变化的主要组成部分是全球变暖，它对社会的影响最为显着，“科学家最近估计，全球变暖每年导致约 160,000 人死亡”（Giddens，2009 年）。一般来说，受影响最大的人群是青年、老年人和经济弱势群体（NAST，2000）。这是因为在社会和金钱上处于不利地位的人无法获得必要的资源来应对这些变化。夏季全球气温上升和冬季气温下降分别处于历史最高水平和最低水平，人类没有尽最大努力做好准备，因此人类是输家对抗气候变化的斗争。
Another problem area that is beginning to arise is that of health and the mutation of pre-existing disease and viruses, “public health researchers have begun to note variations in seasonal diseases, like the flu, and the geographic spread of malaria and diarrheal diseases resulting from ill-equipped sanitation services and a lack of access to clean, fresh water,” (Nagel et al, 2008).Yet, with these facts, there is still no drastic change or effort being made to prevent this from happening; and there is further research that must be done before scientists will be able to estimate how much these changes will result in negative societial outcomes.
另一个开始出现的问题领域是健康以及先前存在的疾病和病毒的突变，“公共卫生研究人员已经开始注意到季节性疾病的变化，如流感，以及疟疾和腹泻疾病的地理传播卫生服务设施不完善和无法获得干净的淡水，”（Nagel 等人，2008 年）。在科学家们能够估计这些变化将在多大程度上导致负面的社会后果之前，还必须进行进一步的研究。
Other areas of the world are also making an effort to inform the general public about climate change and the potential changes that will have to be made in order to prevent negative outcomes. The Kyoto Protocol was created in 1997, in Kyoto, Japan and was put into action in February 2005, and since then 187 states have signed the protocol. The Kyoto protocol is a convention that was created in an attempt to fight global warming and lower greenhouse gas emissions by restricting countries gas emission percentages. Ironically enough, the United States is the only nation that has not signed and has no intention to ratify the protocol. The Kyoto Protocol was created when George W. Bush was still president of the US, and he was of the firm opinion that climate change not only was not a problem, but did not even exist as an important global issue. As a result, the US has been put far behind the rest of the world in terms of acknowledging and acting on this matter. This is a set-back to the global effort in fighting climate change and will continue to create problems, in the long run, if there is no agreement reached on this subject shortly.
世界其他地区也在努力向公众宣传气候变化以及为防止负面结果而必须做出的潜在变化。 《京都议定书》于 1997 年在日本京都制定，并于 2005 年 2 月付诸实施，此后已有 187 个国家签署了该议定书。京都议定书是一项旨在通过限制各国气体排放百分比来对抗全球变暖和降低温室气体排放的公约。具有讽刺意味的是，美国是唯一没有签署也无意批准该议定书的国家。 《京都议定书》是在乔治·W·布什还是美国总统的时候制定的，他坚信气候变化不仅不是问题，甚至不作为一个重要的全球性问题存在。因此，美国在承认和处理此事方面远远落后于世界其他国家。这是全球应对气候变化努力的倒退，如果短期内不能就此问题达成协议，从长远来看，这将继续产生问题。
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