There is no greater feeling than opening the door, walking outside and breathing in fresh, clean air; however, according to the World Health Organization fewer of us are getting to do this. In fact, the WHO reports that every year about two million people die prematurely due to the affects of polluted air.
So what is in the air that is so damaging? Environmental scientists say there are plenty of dangerous compounds, Such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons and particulates, but even carbon dioxide can now be considered as a dangerous compound that wreaks havoc on our world.
Despite warnings, many North Americans believe that severe pollution is not the kind of problem that is sitting on their door- step. They look at places like China and India in comparison and surmise that they are doing okay. A lot of scientists have a different view.
What the experts say
Environmental scientists explain that one country’s pollution can become another country’s economic crisis. One example of this is in Asia where cross-border pollution from China is having a negative impact on Japan and South Korea. In recent years, Japans tourism industry claims to have suffered due to pollution from China’s factory district.
Over the last couple of years Japan and South Korea have had to suspend classes and outdoor activities due to toxic smog from cross border factories.
Experts point to the cumulative impact of pollution on the world as a reason for us to all take a global approach to protecting the environment. Thinking local is no longer enough. When it comes to protecting the environment, never has it been more apropos to say “think global (while doing what you can do) by acting local”.
A study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that pollution in Asian countries is having far-reaching impacts on weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere.
Researchers from both the United States and China used special computer models to look at the impact of Asia’s pollution on various weather systems. They concluded that polluting particles that were blowing towards the north Pacific and interacting with water droplets, caused clouds to grow denser. As a result, more severe storms developed above the ocean.
So far this winter we have been hit hard by what many refer to as the polar vortex. More and more evidence seems to suggest the cold has something to do with the worldwide pollution problem.
In North America we live in a moderate climate, but the last couple of winters have been very cold. According to professors at John Hopkins Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences the frigid temperatures have a lot to do with Global Warming/Climate Change.
As it turns out, the polar vortex twists and turns. When this happens air that is normally contained by the jet stream sneaks through and we have colder weather. Scientists suggest as the temperature between regions narrows, the jet stream weakens causing more of these twists and turns. What they are saying is, the warmer the Artic gets, the colder we get in Canada and the United States in the winter months. Statistics show that the Arctic has been warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world for the past 50 years.
Weather experts say what we do in our own back yard, no matter where we live, can have an impact on the atmosphere; that we are all contributors of some sort. They ask that people take time out of their daily routine to think about how they live, work and play since it can either help or hinder the planet.
Manufacturing, transportation, mining, the commercial sector, the residential sector –these are all paramount to economic survival, but scientists point out finding ways to better manage emissions and exposure is key to creating a better tomorrow for all mankind.