Air Pollution, Global Warming and Water Contamination Versus Survival

For many years the dangers of global warming have been trumpeted by scientists as the major threat to the continued existence of the human species on Earth. Now however, we are facing much more than this single danger. A new OECD report has highlighted the perils of not only global warming, but now air pollution and water contamination also. New estimates of the discharge of harmful minute particles, called particulates, indicate there is a serious danger of mass deaths before 2050. This is due to their steady increase in the air we breathe.

Los Angeles Smog

Naturally, those living in major cities and towns across  the world are most at risk, but the pollution is moving outside these areas and will eventually effect whole swathes of countryside too.  The report estimates there could be as many as 3.6 million premature deaths due to air pollution in countries like India and China, due no doubt to their increase in wealth and becoming major emerging markets in the last twenty years. This tempo of change is sure to increase in future decades.

The West is also likely to see a large increase in premature death due to its large aging population, so it follows that we can see the average life expectancy age falling once again instead of rising further as was thought.

Helping to Slowly Kill Us All?

For the last twenty years or so, governments, particularly western governments, have known about the necessity of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and some have set ambitious targets that will never be reached. For this reason it must come as a shock to find this is not the only problem. In the report they have been criticised for giving tax breaks on diesel fuel because it gives off less greenhouse gases, but the report highlights that the particulate emissions of diesel fuel is just as dangerous, though more to human health than the well-being of the planet. When this fuel is burnt in a vehicle engine minute particles of carbon, among other things, is ejected into the atmosphere and forms an invisible cloud that we breathe in constantly. In many scientists’ view this is far more damaging to human health than smoking, due purely to the amounts, and length of time, they are inhaled.

Air pollution comes from many sources and each one is having a deadly effect on us, and the planet we live on. Our enormous appetite for energy, coupled with our present methods of transportation, will eventually be our undoing in decades to come.  With the ever increasing demands for energy, and despite all measures taken by responsible governments world-wide, the levels of greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 50% by 2050. Our current pitiful efforts to curb these pollutants will be pointless.

New York Light Show

Walk the night-time streets of any city in the world and see how many skyscraper office blocks are fully lit at three o’clock in the morning. Look at how many shops leave all their lights on every night, and how many huge illuminated advertisements line the streets. It may look pretty, but its wasted energy on an inhuman scale the like of which the world has never seen.  And still we need more and more!!

London Light Show

The big problem is, we cannot afford this massive wastage of energy any more than we can afford the increases that are being demanded year on year. Somewhere, sometime, it has to stop or man will be no more than a fading memory on planet Earth in 100 years time. Remember all the sci-fi films showing the deserted rotting remains of our once great civilization?

And what about our polluting cars? Current estimates put the number of cars and light trucks on the planet’s roads at 806 million and this figure is set to double in the next thirty years! The United States alone has 254.4 million registered passenger cars on the road.

The Lungs Of A City Baby

Each one is contributing to not only greenhouse gases, but also pollutants like particulates. If the current trend continues we will not be able to breathe outside our own homes. I have seen sci-fi  movies where everyone walks outside with a mask in order to breathe. could this really become a reality? If current trends continue, it looks like it will!

Another point raised by the OECD report is water contamination, which naturally enough should be close to our hearts as we  all need it to survive. The contamination of our water supply is increasing at a steady rate and it seems we are unable, or unwilling to do anything about it. The biggest polluter is strangely enough not the oil companies as most people think, but the farmer.

Contaminated Water

Farmers cannot stay in business these days without using mountains of fertilizer on their ground. A hundred years ago the population levels were such that farmers sowed and harvested one crop a year in a field, now that has become two, and in many cases three. The ground that feeds us has lost so much of its natural nutrients that these have to be supplemented with growth chemicals, otherwise nothing grows there anymore. All these chemicals find their way into the ground water, and eventually the streams and rivers that feed off it. And then we drink it!!! It is a pattern that has developed across the whole of the 1st world and many 2nd world countries too.

Another point to make is that we already have large areas of the world suffering from severe drought conditions brought on by changes in the world’s weather patterns. These areas are set to increase as water becomes a more valuable commodity than gold. It is estimated that if we do not find a cleaner method of producing energy, global warming will increase the demand for water by more than half. In the meantime, we are slowly poisoning what we have. Doesn’t seem to make sense does it? 

Too Many Cars

In an effort to reduce harmful carbon emissions from vehicles, it has been suggested by many that the answer is biofuels. Sorry, but it ain’t so folks! According to the OECD report, divergence into biofuels will have a major negative effect on the world in general. Not only will it use up vast tracts of land required for food production, but will also increase to a great extent water usage and promote more water contamination.

The report states that governments should start taking measures to reduce energy consumption, air and water pollution with immediate effect. The report suggests removing state subsidies on such things as diesel, fossil fuels and water to deter wastage in these three areas. These may be a step in the right direction, but you can be sure that much tougher, and altogether unpopular measures will need to be taken if we are still to be around in 100 or 150 years. There is little doubt that this ‘Golden Age’ of man must come to an end – and soon.

Roy.

2 Responses to “Air Pollution, Global Warming and Water Contamination Versus Survival”

  1. Awesome post. It was very informative!

    Please check out my post on air pollution http://getphyt.org/2012/02/28/how-am-i-supposed-to-breathe/

    I’d love to hear what you think about my post and blog!

    Like

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