Air Pollution as an Environmental and Social Problem
Air pollution has become an urgent issue in the United States and across the globe. Experts are sounding the alarm suggesting that there is a relationship between air pollution and human health (WHO, 2006; COMEAP, 2010). According to Caiazzo et al (2013), total combustion emissions in the United States account for 200,000 premature deaths per year (198). These findings are further confirmed by experts at the American Lung Association (2013) suggesting that despite the many environmental initiatives air pollution remains at unhealthy high levels in every major city of the country. These days, experts face with a discrepancy between tremendous efforts to reduce pollution and low quality of air. Addressing this discrepancy will become possible when there is an understanding of barriers hindering the implementation of environmental initiatives. These barriers are identified in Stephen King’s The Running Man. Although the described events take place in the fictional Co-Op City, the novel provides a detailed account of factors increasing air pollution and barriers that most often hinder sustainable living. The latter include social stratification of society and resistance of political institutions to address it. While using The Running Man as a context this paper seeks to prove that air pollution is the result of economic and social disparities, and at the moment there is no political will to address the problem.
Air Pollution as a Social Problem
The idea that air pollution is a problem that concerns everyone is only half true. The findings suggest that people do not breathe the same air, and some population groups are more exposed to the destructive effects of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide when compared to others (Rotko, 2004). This finding was made by Tuulia Rotko (2004) during the EXPOLIS study in 1997-1998 in Sanomat, Helsinki. The survey of 428 inhabitants of Sanomat aged 25-55 suggests that blue-collar workers are two times more susceptible to fine particles when compared to white collar-employees due to conditions that are discussed further in this paper. It also suggests that individuals having less than 14 years of education are more susceptible to nitrogen dioxide when compared to those having more education (Rotko, 2004). While living in different socioeconomic conditions, people have different levels of exposure to polluted air. Rotko’s (2004) findings allow identifying a relationship between one’s economic wellbeing and the level of exposure to air pollutants. The researcher attributes this to the fact that the risk groups often live and work in factory areas where air pollution level is higher than in other parts of the city. Moreover, while lacking sufficient education, they are unaware of risks associated with breathing polluted air and cannot take steps to reduce it. Stratification of society on social and economic grounds creates conditions where poorer people risk their health to provide goods for wealthier ones.Unfortunately, the problem of social stratification is not new, and it is very well reflected in King’s novel. In The Running Man, Co-Op City faces …