Air (and its repair) in the care of the many

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17[1]On Nov. 19, 2012, in “Air pollution: The enormity of it all,” I wrote: “More importantly, with the pollution already present, the very same that is causing a number of health issues for those people adversely affected by such, how does society effectively mitigate the impact, so that the numbers in this regard do not increase and instead either stay flat or fall? That is one question there still seems to be no definitive answer to.”

But yesterday (2-26-13) I also wrote this: “Going forward, in advancing the air pollution fight, what will the guiding sentiment be: continue as is or seriously rethink what is going on in this regard and institute doable, workable solutions that will correct what now can probably best be described as a deleterious, damaging and deplorable air condition? What will it be?”

While it is no big secret what air pollution’s cause is, the $64 million question, however, is: What can be done about it?

I am of the opinion that regardless of whatever amount of time it took for world air quality to get to its current state there will be no quick fixes to get the air to a state of healthy repair. Having said that, there is no denying that the air damage already done must be undone. I, however, am not one who subscribes to the notion that conditions must get worse before getting better nor do I believe in kicking the can down the road in this regard.

Prudent course to follow

The air is what it is and cleaning it is probably going to be a slow and painstaking process. So let’s explore what could work.

Although there are only two sources of air pollution – mobile and stationary – remedies are many. What’s more, there is a no one-size-fits-all strategy in terms of air cleansing.

Mobile fixes could include:

  • Adjustment of the transportation/land-use paradigm to reduce vehicle miles traveled
  • Technological advancement and innovation in transportation mode and fuel types
  • Better transport management strategies to make the network more efficient
  • Encouragement of non-polluting mobility types using incentivization
  • Discouragement of polluting mobility types using disincentivization
  • More reliance on alternatives and less reliance on fossil fuel use
  • Reconfiguration of the entire transportation network

Stationary fixes could include:

  • Technological advancement and innovation applied to emissions reduction
  • Technological advancement and innovation applied to waste management
  • Technological advancement and innovation applied to waste disposal
  • More reliance on renewable sources and less reliance on fossil fuels
  • Encouragement of non-polluting activities using incentivization
  • Discouragement of polluting activities using disincentivization
  • Improvement in building design and construction
  • More reliance on recycling

Obviously, there are certainly other air “fixes,” besides the ones I’ve presented so the lists are by no means comprehensive.

Coalition of clear-the-air forces

It is my observation that many forces have been at work that resulted in air pollution being present.

Question: To undo the damage, what’s it going to take?320px-Benton_County_wind_turbines[1]

Answer: The work of all clear-the-air forces combined will result in success.

Question: Can the air ever reach a state of good repair if no one cares – or tries?

Answer: Here’s a clue: the work of all clear-the-air forces combined will result in success.

Image at top: NASA

– Alan Kandel