American Culture and the Environment

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American Culture and the Environment

The Industrial Revolution began in the early 19th century and was the result of the replacement of an economy based on manual labor to one dominated by industrial machine manufacturing. The resulting technologies produced an industrial age that not only altered the land, the waterways and the skies, but also changed our culture from intimate communities of self sufficient farming families to that of a largely urbanized population dependent on the jobs those new industries created. As the industrial age gathers momentum, the engines and power plants, which evolved and continue to evolve from this historical transformation of science and technology, threaten the cultural stability of the United States. Industrial civilization is driven by fossil fuels such as coal and oil, which are the major contributors to a rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Excess carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by non-natural sources, even at relatively small amounts, is enough to alter the balancing affect of the carbon cycle. The resulting problem for human populations is rising temperatures around the world or global warming. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, there have been dramatic fluctuations in overall temperatures of the earth for the past 150,000 years that suggest a direct association with carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide currently accounts for .03% of the total gasses in the atmosphere; however, it has a disproportionate impact on the earth's temperature. This means that a minor fluctuation in the percentage of carbon dioxide will likely have a significant effect on the temperature. Over the last century the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has been rising at an alarming rate. The United States is a 21st century culture of consumers. The current consumption levels and lifestyle practices are altering the environment and in return are...
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