Air pollution. Who can deny its existence? Not you, not I, no one! Air pollution, though not something you can hold or feel, it is nevertheless real. However, big-picture-wise, air pollution gets paid hardly any mind at all – barely registering a blip on the planet’s radar screen of most-pressing issues. It seems as if the condition, situation didn’t even exist!
That needs to change. And, how!!
How, is right.
In other words, what can we do that isn’t already being done to increase multifold said awareness?
First of all, you know how TV stations air public service announcements that present information for the public good? Why we are not seeing more of these related to the air we actually breathe and, of course, accompanied by relevant and related statistical information such as: the number in a certain area having asthma and/or the number of annual early fatalities tied to air pollution’s effects, is beyond me. This, in addition to even just a small sampling of the plethora of emissions sources; namely, vehicles, factories, homes, power plants, farms and more being shown. The PSAs I see locally typically show scenes where the hues of background skies are a brilliant blue and accented with of all things, puffy, white clouds. It might do well to include soundtracks (I wouldn’t dare call these soundbites – though some, meanwhile, might be tempted to do just that) that get out the message of the importance, urgency even, of encouraging greater use of public transit or car-pooling as opposed to commonplace single-occupant driving, especially when the region’s polluted air reaches unhealthy levels.
With the start of school just around the corner, promoting alternatives to vehicle idling for parents picking up children in the afternoon makes excellent sense. Maybe having gathering centers, meeting spots available where parents do not have to remain in vehicles with engines idling and instead could assemble in on-campus halls where children can then go to locate parents, siblings, relatives, guardians (whatever the case may be), who together can walk to the vehicles in question could do much to address that problem. In addition, perhaps more after-school programs could be provided not only as a means to further enrich children’s lives, but that result in not all parents arriving at the same time to pick their children up from school. The fewer number of idling vehicles in a given spot the better. In the community where I reside, the schools raise colored flags on poles to reflect the quality of the air on each day school is in session. Green for good, yellow for moderate, orange for unhealthy for sensitive individuals, red for unhealthy, you get the idea. More effort could be made to observe the meanings behind those colors by limiting or even eliminating outdoor activity and sporting events at such times when the quality of the air warrants doing so. And, certain types of sports events could be held at times of the year with the air more conducive to holding said activities like postponing cross-country running meets until the springtime as opposed to having them in the fall.
Then there is the seemingly runaway sprawl-building that appears to be part and parcel of community evolvement in so many cities nationwide which just encourages more driving. Just the other day a friend told me he read an article in the local newspaper describing, detailing a fully sustainable city that is to be built around Newhall, California. According to what I remember hearing, residents will be able to walk everywhere they need to or have access to suitable, convenient, air-friendly or friendlier public transportation. Stated differently, that’s another way of saying they won’t need to drive! Houses will be energy efficient and the community itself will be carbon net-zero. This is the exact direction we should be moving considering the likely future impacts of global warming. I saw yesterday, in fact, on the broadcast television news where Portland, Oregon’s high temperature could reach 108 today. Sprawl: time to stop the idiocy.
Also in the plus column, I just read recently where some countries are disallowing by certain dates polluting vehicles from entering their cities where pollution has become a major issue (the dates vary city to city). This is a really good step. Why? Because it shows to the community at large that pollution should be treated as the serious issue it really is and it should neither be tolerated nor accepted.
Air pollution, because it has a detrimental effect on human, animal and crop health, should, under no circumstances, not be recognized as having health-altering/damaging impacts (disclosure: some may claim the exact opposite) and, as a result, thus be deemed unimportant or inconsequential; in other words, such should not be given short shrift, ever. (Hint: I think we already have too much of that going on right now as it is which is the reason for my writing about this).
That all said, ’bout time air-pollution awareness got its deserved due, eh?!
Image above: U.S. National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
– Alan Kandel