Air: It is what it is and what it isn’t is good

On June 10, 2013 in “Answer to California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant closure could be clean energy,” I made reference to the The Fresno Bee op-ed “San Onofre closure will test state’s power grid,” plus one comment to that editorial. Part of what was written by Itachee (the writer of the comment in question), is as follows: “California’s already precarious power situation is probably going to get worse before it gets better.” So, what about that comment? Couldn’t the same be said regarding the world’s already precarious air quality situation?

LA_smog_masksFact is, in 2000, across the globe, 800,000 people died prematurely from air pollution’s effects. And in 2010, it was four times that – 3.2 million such deaths, 65 percent of the total being in Asia and India, according to Time magazine, “Science & Space” contributor Bryan Walsh, the “Ecocentric” columnist citing statistical data from the Lancet, in “Unbreathable: Air Pollution Becomes a Major Global Killer.”

What’s more, Walsh emphasized: “For the first time ever, air pollution is on the world’s top-10 list of killers, and it’s moving up the ranks faster than any other factor.”

One would hope with numbers and particulars like these more would be done to reverse the negative trend – much more.

As it relates and in my view, the air mustn’t take any more of a pollution pounding. Nor should people’s lungs, hearts, bloodstreams, etc. suffer the harmful effects of toxic air. I mean, look, a 300 percent increase in just 10 years in the number of world deaths attributable to the effects of contaminated air? Seriously!

Absent a comprehensive commitment, quite honestly, I don’t see total success in solving the pernicious air pollution crisis. Air pollution is not just a nuisance; it’s a menace. As far as I’m concerned, there is no better way to describe it.

So, picture a comprehensive, focused, sustained effort advanced in cleaning the air up. This is what I believe it will take. And I’m not talking this type and degree of commitment from a few key interests. Rather, I am talking from stakeholders the world over; pretty much anyone and everyone who breathes air. Similar in scope, breadth and depth to that of the campaign to protect the environment present in 1970.

Walsh provides added perspective.

In “Earth Daze: What Happened to the Environmental Movement,” the “Ecocentric” column writer insisted, “The environment – everyone’s environment – really was a mess in 1970. Urban rivers were on fire, smog choked the Los Angeles Basin, toxic waste affected towns like Love Canal and shorelines were marred by industrial runoff. …Things used to be very, very bad.”

I’m wondering by “very, very bad” if Walsh is implying there existed more of an immediate threat to public health and the environment then, and that this immediate threat to human health and the environment demanded that immediate and decisive corrective action be taken.

Something else. Walsh submits also that, “The international climate regime under the U.N. seems to get closer to collapse every year, and even in much greener Europe, carbon markets simply aren’t working. And environmentalism as a concept doesn’t seem to resonate with Americans as it once did. A new YouGov/HuffPost poll found that Americans are less concerned about the environment now than they were on the first Earth Day.”

Despite this, Walsh makes quite clear that there has been progress and cites four decades of the sustainability movement, but at the same time cautioned, “… it’s going to take more than that, and it will take more than just greens. Climate change is too big — and too important — to be left to the environmentalists alone.”

Where I am going with this discourse is recognizing that our air is damaged. But it isn’t enough to just be aware of the problem. Initiating comprehensive, corrective steps to right the air quality ship to me is not only the proper and prudent thing to do, following this protocol is really in the best interests of anyone and everyone who breathes air.

One must never forget that the air is in the state it is in is not of its own doing. It had, well, help, if you like, just as help – albeit a different kind of help – is needed to get it to a state of good repair.

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