Skip to content

• Unmanageable Pollution

• Unmanageable Pollution

Climate change is an escalating threat to the Earth that is fundamentally caused by the ever-increasing discharge of pollutants into the atmosphere. Unmanaged pollution has created a bleak future for the planet, with an immense impact on the delicate ecosystems, human health, and food production.

The chemical composition of the atmosphere has undergone a drastic transformation in the last century due to human activity, and this change is having profound repercussions on weather, temperature, and global water cycles. In particular, the major greenhouse gases (GHGs) of the atmosphere —carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and others— are rising at alarming rates due to the burning of fossil fuels and other pollutants. In 2019, the annual increase in global CO2 emissions was 2.2%, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases.

GHGs trap solar radiation in the atmosphere, which amplifies the effects of climate change, leading to extreme weather conditions, more intense storms, and floods. Furthermore, GHGs are responsible for an increase in global surface temperatures, leading to a broad range of other climate-related risks including heat waves, ocean acidification, glacier melting, and disruption of the hydrologic cycle.

The impact of pollution on the planet’s climate has been recognized since the early days of the industrial revolution. However, the scale of its effects is only now becoming apparent and efforts to alleviate the damage are lagging far behind. The control of air pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide, is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions and combat global warming.

• Unmanageable Pollution

The Cost of Pollution

The burning of fossil fuels produces large quantities of air pollutants that contribute to the greenhouse effect and to ozone layer depletion. Although the global regulation of these pollutants has been met with growing success, other sources of pollution remain outside of the scope for global standards. They are characterized by their wide-ranging toxicity, high abundance, and complexity, making it even more difficult to control and contain.

In addition to environmental effects, unmanaged pollution carries an immense cost to public health. Air quality has been continuously decreasing in recent years, leading to a significant increase in illnesses such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and even premature deaths. Studies have found that air pollution leads to over seven million premature deaths each year, costing the global economy around 5-6 trillion dollars annually.

In the United States alone, the cost of public health effects of air pollution is estimated to be more than 900 billion dollars a year. Poor air quality continues to be a prominent culprit of death, responsible for an estimated 28% of all asthma-related fatalities.

Furthermore, the effects of global warming, fueled by unchecked and unmanaged pollution, are already being felt in many parts of the world. The intensity of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and extreme heat waves, is increasing year over year,

Regional and International Commitments

Given the staggeringly high cost of air pollution and its effects on climate, a number of regional and international initiatives have been launched to address the issue. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1992, and successive agreements have been enacted to reduce global emissions.

The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, sets the goal of limiting global temperature rise to “well below 2°C,” and calls on all countries to bring their contributions to net-zero emissions. This has driven the adoption of various engines, fuels, and transportation technologies, such as electric vehicles and renewable natural gas, among others.

On the regional level, many countries have adopted specific guidelines to tackle air pollution. The European Union, for example, has set strict emission standards for vehicles, as well as specific air quality directives aimed at reducing concentration of some particular pollutants. In the US, the Clean Air Act was adopted in 1970 and was amended in 1990 to specify national emission levels for regulated pollutants.

It is clear that pollution has become an increasing burden on not only public health and the environment, but also the global economy, as the costs of air pollution are rising exponentially. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that governments, both nationally and globally, take the lead to tackle this crisis by introducing comprehensive initiatives and regulations that can bring pollution back under control.

Moreover, global awareness and education must be promoted, to create a citizen consciousness regarding the urgency and importance of curbing pollution. Only by making these changes can we hope to have a chance at a better, healthier, and ultimately more prosperous future for the planet Earth.

Other Interesting Topics:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *