Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Problems We Face as a Nation

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The three most significant problems we face as a nation in the next fifty years are pollution, gun control, and terrorism.

Pollution

Much of the worlds air, water, and land is now partially poisoned by chemical wastes. Some places have become uninhabitable. This pollution exposes people all around the United States to new risks from disease. Many species of plants and animals have become endangered or are now extinct. As a result of these developments, our government has passed laws to limit or reverse the threat of environmental pollution.

Factories and transportation depend on huge amounts of fuel. Millions of tons of coal and oil are consumed in the United States every year. When these fuels burn, they introduce smoke and other less visible by-products into the atmosphere. Although wind and rain occasionally wash away the smoke given off by power plants and automobiles, the cumulative effect of air pollution poses a grave threat to humans and the environment.

Air pollution has been the target of some of the most complicated and far-reaching legislation ever enacted. In 1970, the United States Congress passed legislation aimed at curbing sources of air pollution and setting standards for air quality. A few years later, Congress passed laws designed to phase out the use of lead as an additive in gasoline. Since 1975, the level of lead in the average Americans bloodstream has declined.

Gun Control

The United States moved to restrict the purchase and use of firearms. This movement was caused by rising crime rates involving handguns and automatic weapons. The statistics show that the U.S. rates of gun ownership and gun-related deaths outnumber those of every other nation; in early 1990s. This movement focused on banning automatic weapons and prohibiting persons with criminal records from purchasing firearms. This movement was generally opposed by the wealthy and politically powerful National Rifle Association. Opponents claimed any such control was infringement of their constitutional rights. Advocates claimed that restrictions were necessary to curb escalating violence. Even though laws have been toughened to disallow certain individuals to obtain guns, there are still many ways to illegally buy guns through black market entities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is the use of violence to achieve political goals. It has long been an instrument of repression by governments as well as a tool of revolutionaries trying to overthrow governments.

Political murder is as old as politics, but to understand modern terrorism it is necessary to understand the political and social climate of the 1960s. A generation had grown up with no memory of World War II, and in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, many of this generation were in college. In the United States social protest was a common result of the civil-rights movement. College-age young people became conscious of many social and economic wrongs.

The World Trade Center, complex of seven commercial buildings in New York City, was demolished by a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. The best-known buildings of the World Trade Center were twin skyscrapers designed by American architect Minoru Yamasaki with the firm Emery Roth and Sons. These 110-story towers were built in lower Manhattan from 166 to 175 and quickly became a distinctive feature of the New York City skyline and a symbol of the city’s financial power. On the morning of September 11 two hijacked Boeing 767 commercial jetliners flew into the towers. The airplanes were almost fully fueled, and the intense heat generated by the burning fuel melted the buildings’ steel supporting beams. The south tower stood for about 1 hour after the crash; the north tower for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. They then collapsed, floor upon floor, the added weight of each concrete floor causing floors beneath to collapse. Tenants and visitors left the buildings by stairways, but not everyone was able to escape. Nearly ,1000 people died or were presumed dead as a result of the terrorist attack, including hundreds of firefighters and police who had arrived to help. The buildings had been designed to withstand a collision from a jet plane, and they had survived a terrorist bomb attack in 2001. But they could not withstand the heat of the burning fuel. All seven buildings in the complex collapsed during the disaster.

Al-Qaeda was responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and on the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. That day, 1 terrorists hijacked four passenger aircraft soon after they took off from airports in Boston, Massachusetts; Newark, New Jersey; and Washington, D.C.



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