Air pollution

Why the mask? The air is everywhere around, we can’t hide from it or avoid it. It is the number one living “tool”. And guess what? It’s polluted like crazy. And if we don’t change something, everybody will wear masks eventually. Considering that, gas mask industry will grow rapidly in the eyes of moneymakers.

We have “only” this planet and we can’t just change our address and go to another planet when we break the Earth completely. We have to maintain it in order to recover. My friend wanted to go skiing this year, unfortunately there was no snow on the mountain when he booked, in February. Think about it.

There is an interesting book called “Our choice” written by Al Gore. He explained the cycling of pollution by saying “Everything that climbs up, must come down”. It means that all the pollution we make on earth climbs to the atmosphere and stays there for years and it is manifested trough polluted air that we breathe in, acid rains, toxic materials that come back to our landfills.

Enemies that are responsible for air pollution and global warming are carbon dioxide and methane. Both come from people’s random activities, mainly industries, burning coal, transportation, glacier dissolution, agriculture and burnings of forests, paddy fields, sugar cane, etc.

We can be affected from the pollution that comes from the water, land and air. All problems are equally dramatic but in this chapter we will stick to the air problem.

The Air Quality Index is an index for reporting daily air quality (AQI). You can check that index in your country on the Internet. To be honest I don’t really believe them, I think they are reducing the amount of pollution not to cause mass panic. In Beijing, there was a red alert when the problem was already obvious and the whole city was under the fog caused by air pollution.

The day when the alert came into effect, the US Embassy’s air pollution monitor in Beijing reported that the intensity of the tiny particles was at 291 micrograms per cubic meter. Particulate matters levels hit 976 in Beijing suburbs. The World Health Organization recommends only 25 particulate matters per cubic meter!

-There is an artist named Wang Renzheng that actually vacuumed the air with an industrial appliance during the pollution in order to extract dust and other lung harming pollutants from the city’s atmosphere. The final result was a dark brown brick. When the problem appeared, the authorities closed the causing pollution companies and started removing vehicles from the road. But isn’t that what I was talking about in the previous chapter? That in human nature is to react when problem already occurs instead of preventing the problem? For sure they could track the amount of pollution in order to avoid everything. Why I’m saying too late? Ok, the authorities at the end managed to reduce the pollution, but what about the crazy amount of particles that people were breathing in? The same particles the artist Wang Renzheng used to make a brick? Can you imagine having that in your lungs? This artist claims that there are over 4000 deaths caused by lungs diseases and strokes. And China is not the only country with alarming air quality issue. Iran, India, the USA are one of the countries that can join the list.

What can we do to contribute against this problem?

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – as various industries are the main problem of air pollution, you can reduce the amount of production new things, whatever they are, by reusing and recycling.
  • Boycott – Some brand is hazardous for the environment? Don’t buy it, find it’s competitor, sign petitions, write to their HR or guest complaints, they have to see that there is a huge demand for going green.

 

Did you know that only China and the USA produce close to half of the world’s carbon dioxide? Big part is caused by transportation. There are 1 billion cars currently in use in the world. Even though nowadays cars are cleaner that those made 30 years ago, there are much more cars on the roads today. How can we contribute to this issue?

  • Avoid driving cars for short journeys
  • Take care of your vehicle – maintaining your vehicle often keeps your car efficient
  • Drive gently – Driving like you are on rally race increases the amount of fuel consumption. Use higher gears. If you are driving around 50 miles per hour emissions will be the lowest.
  • Turn of your vehicle!!! – If you are in the vehicle stopping for more than a minute for whatever reason – switch it off.
  • Try to avoid picking up your kid by car, or passing by the school and nurseries. Especially don’t hold your car running while waiting for your kid.
  • Turn on air condition only when you really need it – It increases the fuel consumption.
  • Share your journeys – go shopping with friends or neighbors, take a colleague to work, or join a car share club. There are dozens of applications on the Internet for car share, check for the most reliable ones so a serial killer doesn’t murder you.
  • If you’re looking for a new car do a research and try to pick up the greenest solution.

 

Did you know?

  • Rising levels of air pollution in Beijing has brought a new disease – Beijing cough.
  • Single bus caries passengers, which are likely to drive 40 cars. (Depends on which country you leave in, in my country for example buses exhaust black smoke and I believe that there are a lot of countries with the same issues, where the government doesn’t see environment as a thing to keep clean and safe).
  • In the early 20th century horses were causing a lot of pollution with their poop, that cars were seen as a green alternative.
  • Owning an electric car in Norway allows you free parking and driving in the bus line.

Google Street View cars now can track air pollution. The cars can measure a variety of pollutants including: nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, particulate matter, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

References and useful links:

http://evsroll.com/

Car Pollution

http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-air-pollution-facts.php

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/01/chinese-vacuum-cleaner-artist-turning-beijings-smog-into-bricks

http://www.who.int/topics/air_pollution/en/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-35026363

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