Air pollution and climate change are buzzwords that have always been thrown about, but do we truly understand the real effects of these environmental issues?
We decided to look further into this matter to provide knowledge and facts and put to bed the assumption that climate change is not a real problem. Many people believe that climate change is a myth and the consequences are not current. However, this is far from the truth.
Levels of Greenhouse gas emissions have increased significantly since before the industrial revolution, largely due to economic and population growth. Looking back as far as the last 800,000 years, the current atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are at unprecedented levels.
There are many impacts, but an obvious one is changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. 17 of the 18 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001. The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record. The frequency of heat waves has increased in large parts of Europe, Asia and Australia. Increases in the temperature have also impacted the planets water reserves, with a significant loss of ice and a noticeable sea level rise. Research shows that about 70% of the coastlines worldwide are projected to experience a sea level change within ±20% of the global mean.
Another major environmental issue is air pollution. Generating energy from burning fossil fuels is the greatest contributor of harmful gases into the atmosphere. In 2012, air pollution had caused 6.5 million deaths. Even slight exposure to air pollution can cause detrimental health impacts. Nearly 80% of those living in urban areas are forced to breathe air which exceeds the air quality guidelines given by the World Health Organisation.
Studies have shown that levels of harmful gases in the United Kingdom have declined in the past 50 years due to regulations put in place by the government after the Great London Smog in 1952. China and India are the world’s biggest emitters of harmful gases. Although China have regulations to reduce emissions output, they often ignore these to meet industrial demands.
The above points show that this is a global matter and needs to be addressed world-wide. However, to start addressing these problems we must first adopt new values and new ways of thinking collectively. We must accept that climate change is present and is a matter of urgency, and only then can be truly push on to save our planet.
Alex & Danyaal
- Summary for Policymakers http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/
- NASA Global Climate Change, Vital Signs of the Planet https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs
- Energy and air pollution, World Energy Outlook, IEA, 2016, Chapter 1, pp19-38 https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/weo-2016-special-reportenergy-and-air-pollution.html