Air Pollution and the Environment

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Whether we want to admit or even think about it, air pollution is a real problem, one that continues to affect our environment and our lives each and every day. Although people who live in rural areas can easily forget that such a problem exists (as they do not see smog and factories on a daily basis) or remember its causes (fewer cars on the roads), it is a very real problem that affects everybody. At times we simply can’t ignore this pollution. For example, when driving past a factory pumping smoke clouds high into the sky, or when standing in a traffic jam smelling the exhaust of the car in front of us, it is hard not to imagine what damage it is doing to our body.

What is air pollution?

Air pollution consists of various types of chemicals and gases being passed into our atmosphere. The main cause of this unwanted pollution is vehicles. Second to to that are industrial factories that release dirty and dangerous fumes into the atmosphere.

Why is air pollution dangerous?

  • Health reasons: pollution has been linked to numerous types of illnesses such as strokes, heart issues and breathing problems.
  • Global warming: air pollution is responsible for global warming. This phenomena leads to the gradual but persistent increase of the temperature of our planet. It has already started affecting entire ecosystems, and unless it is stopped, it will melt the polar ice caps which will raise sea levels. This will cause flooding in coastal cities such as New York and London.
  • Ozone layer: air pollution causes the ozone layer to shrink, thus, reducing its ability to shield us from ultraviolet radiation. This not only causes skin cancer, but also damages wildlife and plants.
  • Acid rain: certain pollutants can cause rain to turn to acid rain. This has a great impact on animals, fish and plants that are soaked in it. Acid rain can also affect the ground, making the soil toxic to many animals and plants.

How can we fight air pollution?

  • One way would be to use Hybrid vehicles. These vehicles produce about a fourth of the pollution of the average vehicle. Just imagine the global effects if everyone started driving such vehicles.
  • Using green energy, such as wind power, solar power, hydro electricity, geothermal power and biomass energy, rather than using fossil fuels for energy, would also have a large impact on air pollution.

Since this problem seems to only get worse in time, and we may reach the point where we damage the environment irrevocably, the only logical solution is that everybody embrace ways that reduce air pollution in the hope that it will eventually, some day, be eliminated. Perhaps the only way this can be achieved is through education: although most people are familiar with air pollution and how it occurs, and are generally aware of its effects, many would rather turn their heads the other way rather than deal with this ever growing problem. The only way to truly overcome this problem is to start with the young: if we, collectively, can get our descendants to permanently change their ways by learning from our mistakes, then perhaps there is still hope for our planet – and ourselves.

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