Pollution is a major concern for environmental sensitive people, and it is why the automotive industry, and emission producing industries, pose a great threat to human survival, and the very life of the world. The atmosphere is just one concern of many major issues policy makers must take into consideration.
Particulate matter is a term that relates to air that contains gases, dust, or fumes and are present in harmful amounts. Aerosols are a subset of pollution that refers to small particles that are suspended in the atmosphere, and are either solid or liquid. Even though it is well-known that naturally occurring events can produce these particles, such as volcanic activity, but human activities also contribute to a relative degree.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used commonly before they were banned in some parts of the world, or intended to be removed from society through the Montreal Protocol agreement. Even though these particles and products seemed to compose a small percentage of pollution, the carbon dioxide in car emissions truly shows the extent of its damage to the environment by mere comparison.
If something as small as CFCs can be such a risk to the earth, vehicle use should definitely be a priority in the resolve of the climate change crisis. The only drawback is the number of businesses in the economic world that would pay heavily, or completely.
There is another problem that most Americans have forgotten about in recent times (besides those suffering from the effects who surely cannot forget). Chemicals and agents the government uses in big wars such as the Gulf War and the Vietnam War have contributed to pollution and devastation of human health. Though it is debatable what happened in the Gulf, the spraying of Agent Orange allegedly destroyed 5 million acres of denuded, or largely defoliated forests in southern Vietnam.The damage will take centuries before the problems disappear.
Michelle Mairesse with hermes-press claims many diseases were the result of Agent Orange including lymphoma, sarcomas, cancer, and chloracne, which is supported by “incontrovertible evidence.” President Clinton acknowledged the outcome of the devastation and extended disability benefits for veterans exposed. Although today, the greatest threat to the world is arguably the automotive industry and factories producing harmful emissions; there are chemicals and hazards that go unknown to the public, sometimes indefinitely when the effects have progressed irreversibly.
Thousands of soldiers following the Gulf War in 1991 reported various diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, immune dysfunction, urinary conditions, joint pains, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but those claiming they suffered from the Gulf War hazards were often told it was just “battle stress.” The government officials claimed the use of depleted uranium in missiles, bullets, and armor plating did not contribute to the “Gulf War Syndrome.”
The RAND Corporation (a nonprofit institution that helped, and helps, improve policy through analysis and research) publicly claimed that there was no evidence that radiation or kidney disease was attributed to depleted uranium exposure. However, the United States Army Armament Munitions and Chemical Command reported that internal exposure to this substance was linked to cancer, and that there is no dose low enough to have an effect of zero.
Just last year, a study found out that car pollution kills more people than car accidents. The study was conducted by MIT claiming 53,000 people in premature deaths every year, while last year 34,000 people was considered the statistic for car accident deaths. MIT says one-in-five Americans are in danger, especially those living close to roadways. Studies supported by the automotive industry claim that car pollution is “only” responsible for 7 percent of fine particle pollution. This number might not seem high, but some claim that there is over 5,000 trillion tonnes of air in the world, a percentage of that number contaminated with pollutants would be quite large.
The Union of Concerned Scientists report that particles found in the lowest level of the atmosphere (where weather begins), are particles that generally stay close to their sources of origin, and remain in this layer until they are rained out or fall to the ground.
What is troubling is that the number could actually be skewed since air pollution from cars usually remains around cities. Those in the city might not be inhaling at a .07 rate. This fact can be illustrated through one analogy: a person living in a small apartment contaminated with mold could be breathing in 99 percent contamination—the person would not be living with any fresh air what so ever–but those outside the apartment will be inhaling much less mold spores; this skew of data could likely lead to poor representation.
The fact is, to acknowledge head-on the factors contributing to climate change and environmental degradation, there should be policy aimed at, and restrictions consisting of, those chemicals and substances that are commonly used, or used less often but in great amounts that are harmful to Earth and humans. Though the automotive industry could be the greatest threat to the world because of the constant presence of emissions, there are many things that must change to reduce the effects humans play in environmental degradation.
Opinion By Lindsey Alexander