Writer: Kyle Pearson
For most people life is about convenience, we simply do not have time in our day to think about the bigger picture. In a busy world, the seemingly mundane habits we have developed do have consequences whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. From driving the biggest, fastest cars to burning fossil fuels or trash the activities we see as typical and miniscule continue to pollute and poison our atmosphere. Air pollution occurs when harmful substances, usually chemicals, are introduced into the earth’s atmosphere. An air pollutant is a substance in the air that can have negative effects on humans and our ecosystem. Air pollution and poor air quality are listed as two of the world’s worst toxic pollution problems. Most people don’t consider the ways they accidentally pollute our air or the ways they can help reverse the effects of global warming in our atmosphere. Some may argue that the issue of air pollution is not important, however without clean air our lives could drastically change. Breathing and living with polluted air can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses which leads to stress on the heart and lungs, long term exposure can lead to a loss of lung capacity and lung function and even shorten one’s lifespan. There have been many proposals of how we can reduce air pollution, but most are extreme resolutions such as ceasing the use of fossil fuels. Although reducing the use of fossil fuels would be phenomenal towards reducing the pollution in the air, expecting our society to make such a drastic change to their everyday routines is costly. Instead the focus should be on the smaller changes people can make to reduce their carbon footprint and help aid the fight on air pollution. One obvious change people can be to simply drive more fuel-efficient cars to reduce the amount of emissions one’s vehicle. Now this will be an option most people will have trouble doing. Not everyone can just go and buy a new car for the sake of the environment. A solution would be to carpool with people , ride a bicycle , or other self-propelled vehicle instead of driving an automobile. Of course, expecting everyone to sacrifice what could be there only way of transportation is still an extreme request, although there are smaller hobby like activities everyday people can pick up. Starting a garden for example is a great way to not only allow yourself to grow a green thumb and eat organically but planting a garden allows for those plants to cycle the air taking in what we don’t need, such as carbon dioxide, and producing fresh oxygen into our atmosphere. Pollution of air in our atmosphere from large plants, vehicle emissions, or even just litter, is an issue that if we don’t handle soon will catch up to hurt us all. Reducing air pollution will help everyday people live healthier fuller lives, develop new hobbies, and even become more active.
There are obvious reasons why we should be concerned about the quality of our air, the first being unhealthy air creates unhealthy humans. In fact, approximately 3.3 million people, 55,000 of them being Americans, die due to air pollution each year. With people’s lives at stake one would think the government would take heavy action towards this cause, and they did, or at least tried to. President Obama attempted to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired plants encouraging the growth of renewable energy. However, Obama’s plan seemed too costly in court and was never taken into action. If the government doesn’t prioritize the issue at hand then it falls onto the laps of the people as their civic duty to act themselves, and if health reasons aren’t enough to convince you to join the cause consider how your environment around you is being affected by air pollution. The rise in temperature is not at all natural and completely the fault of human activities. The of rising sea level can cause wildlife to drown and even homes to be destroyed due to weakening of the soil. When a person lives in a city and is surrounded by busy streets and big buildings, it’s hard to care for a part of the world that isn’t your own, although take into consideration that if air pollution is not addressed soon it will affect all life regardless of where you live. Regardless of why or even if you join the cause to reduce air pollution, once you are a part of the movement you must consider what you can do to change the world we are hurting. Reducing your carbon footprint is not easy, in fact it could be one of the biggest challenges we face as humans. There are the simple steps we all have heard about for example riding a bicycle instead of driving your car to reduce CO2 emissions from your vehicle. While everyone riding bicycles would be fantastic for reducing air pollution, expecting people to nearly triple their commute time to work or school is about as likely as ceasing the use of fossil fuels. If you can ride a bicycle instead of a car I encourage you to, the benefit to the planet is more than you know, however instead of focusing on big things that can solve air pollution seemingly all at once we need to focus on the many little hobbies that can add up to reducing pollution over time. I like to think of it as instead of getting someone one big gift for their birthday, you are getting them many smaller gifts they can use for much longer. The truth is there is no big one time solution to reducing air pollution, it will always be there, it took many years to get this far in the hole and it will take many years to get out. Don’t get me wrong hope is not lost, there are plenty of ways one can reduce their carbon footprint. In New Hampshire, a mother of two named Karen Larson took the “New Hampshire Carbon Challenge.” The mission was a statewide effort to reduce the impact on air pollution and challenged citizens to get involved. The project outline showed that Larson could save roughly 700 dollars per year and reduce her carbon footprint by 4,400 pounds by doing simple tasks such as replacing her lightbulbs with compact fluorescents, being more efficient on time spent in the shower, and putting electronics on power strips and turning them off when not in use. These are all relatively simple tasks that can not only help reduce your impact on air pollution but even put extra money in your pocket. It is up to us to take matters into our own hands, whether that means taking a similar challenge as Larson, or even taking up a new hobby such as bicycle riding or maintaining your own garden to help give back to our earth, every action no matter how small can help save our world. Once these small pollution reducing acts become the mundane, we can all work together to take the bigger more necessary steps to truly eliminating air pollution, but it all starts with the actions you are willing to take.
Air pollution is a growing issue that if not addressed soon will end up affecting all our day to day routines. If current habits continue the air will continue to become populated with many chemicals especially CO2 or carbon dioxide. With growing pollutants in the air many health problems will arise and it will become difficult to survive in our world. Hope is not lost, it is up to everyday citizens to take matters into their own hands and reverse the effects of air pollution. By taking up new hobbies such as gardening, bicycle riding, or even a pollution reduction challenge, these small acts will add up to reduce our carbon footprints we so harshly leave on our planet. Educating the population about air pollution is not enough, the time to act us now, it’s up to us to save our home.