Can Current Pollution Strategies Improve Air Quality Term Paper

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Pollution Strategies Improve Air Quality do not think that today's pollution strategies can improve our air quality. Although we are told by the media that the air quality is getting better, why then do incidence of asthma, cancer, acid rain, global warming, Greenhouse Gas levels and the hole in the ozone layer continue to get worse? Each year both larger conglomerates, smaller industrial companies, industrially strong nations like the United States and Germany and up and coming third world nations throughout the world emit millions of tons of pollutants into our air. "Energy, transport, agriculture and industrial activity cause emissions to the atmosphere. Environmental impacts can occur locally or at great distances from the source of emissions. Some emissions have a significant impact on the global environment." (Air Quality Facts and Figures)

In regard to air pollution, what measures are being used today to attempt to control the problem? If we are to control the air pollutant related issues, what measures would be effective to achieve the goal of complete pollution control and strict clean air quality? In addition, there is always the dilemma of injustices derived from the very controls set to stop culprits thus allowing either larger or more financially capable polluters to avoid sanctions or limits. Injustices such as these are often built right into the controls and measures. So, how can we avoid these injustices? As the world's most prosperous nation for example, it is very easy, almost convenient, for us to look at 'have not' Third World nations and dictate that they stop polluting in their quest to become financially equal with the 'have' nations. We must review all of the possible ethical considerations of banning and/or restricting the Third World nations' access to advanced, but polluting, technologies such as fluorocarbons?

These pollutants make it more than just difficult for us to breathe; they also contribute, in addition to auto emissions, cooking oil emissions, fluorocarbons and other forms of air pollutants, to form urban area smog centers which in some situations may even be the cause of diseases like cancer not to mention many other serious health conditions. But we are not really sure of the true effects on the world as a whole. Poor developing nations do not have the studies in place to decipher true effects on the people. "Most medical cost and value-of-life estimates are obtained in developed countries where incomes are higher, as well as the medical cost as a percentage of gross domestic products. There are substantial disparities in life expectancy, age distribution, and the importance of chronic diseases between developed countries and other nations." (Bell et al.)

The Greenhouse Gas effect and that of fluorocarbons on the ozone layer have been well documented. "About 90% of the ozone in our atmosphere is contained in the stratosphere, the region from about 10 to 50km above Earth's surface. In the stratosphere, ozone absorbs some of the potentially harmful UV (ultra-violet) radiation from the sun (at wavelengths between 240 and 320nm). Man made ozone-depleting substances have caused thinning of the ozone layer and the development of an 'ozone hole' over Polar Regions. This has allowed more UV radiation to reach the earth's surface where it may increase the risk of human skin cancers and other biological damage." (Air Quality Facts and Figures)

Air pollution is not something we need to stop because it is a nice thing to do. We are slowly making our planet uninhabitable. "Forty-nine experts from 18 industrial and developing countries met on 6 September 2001 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, to discuss the economic and public health impacts of air pollution particularly with respect to assessing the public health benefits from technologies and policies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Such measures would provide immediate public health benefits, such as reduced premature mortality and chronic morbidity, though improved local air quality." (Bell et al.) It is obvious that nations around the world do recognize the problem as it is.

The measures being used today to control the issue have been politically motivated. Many of the first world industrial nations like Germany, Great Britain and the United States have implemented Acts and laws to begin to try to control the situation. In 1990 for example, the United States government attempted to rectify the threat of Greenhouse Gases and other air pollutants by establishing the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. These acts were authorized by a large number of regulatory programs and targeted specific pollutants and their sources. The bigger culprits like petroleum refineries, chemical production plants, and electric power plants had to reduce pollutant emissions by specific dates. Attempts at resolving the constant threat of air pollution are addressed by all governments and the World Health Organization throughout the developing third world nations. But is it enough? Financial gain and the desire to buck third world status has many industries and nations simply ignoring the combined attempts to control the likes of Greenhouse gas emissions, coal and coke emissions and petroleum residue pollutants.

The World Health Organization is still researching the true effects of Greenhouse Gases (GHG), fluorocarbons and the like. "Inadequate information on exposure and the baseline rate of health effects is a significant problem. Some regions lack air pollution monitoring networks to sufficiently measure ambient air pollutant concentrations, which hinder determination of exposure." (Bell et al.) Many countries do not want to be forthright in regard to their true pollution output. "Political barriers and the cost of obtaining information can impair research." (Bell et al.) Additional problems are derived because many substances outlawed continue to be used "Stockpiled, recycled and illegally traded CFCs, together with those remaining in refrigeration and fire-fighting equipment, will be sources of leaks and emissions for many years. EC regulations require precautionary measures to prevent leaks of ozone depleting substances and to promote recovery after use in industrial processes, although not in manufactured products." (Air Quality Facts and Figures)

In cities around the world, the pollutants come from a combination of sources. In a city like Los Angeles for example, the combination consists of the combination of automobile emissions and industry. "Of course, it was economic and population growth that for the most part created the air pollution problem in Los Angeles in the first place. By 1940, Los Angeles County's population had grown almost 200% to about 3 million people when compared to a population of about 1*million in 1920. More significantly, the number of automobiles registered in the county grew from approximately 900,000 in 1930 to 1.2 million in 1940. By 1950 the population of Los Angeles County had reached 5.4 million and the total number of automobiles was 2 million. This growth in population and in the number of automobiles was coincided by the increasing industrialization of the Los Angeles basin. Economic expansion brought pollution-creating industries such as petroleum refining and steel manufacturing into the area. (Gonzalez)

The true measures of what would be effective in achieving the goal of pollution control and air quality control has lost its impact on the world's population. For example, acid rain has become such a normal occurrence that no longer even frightens the populace as it is discussed on the news. But acid rain is a serious consideration in regard to air pollutants. "The main pollutants responsible for acid deposition are sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3). England and Wales produce the majority of the UK's emissions. The greatest proportion of sulphur dioxide emissions comes from large combustion plants such as power stations and refineries. Nitrogen oxide emissions are predominantly from traffic, whereas over 70% of NH3 emissions arise from agricultural sources. Gasoline, oil, coal and fluorocarbons are the true problem." (Air Quality Facts and Figures)

How would we reduce the world's dependency on the fuels currently being used? However, unless alternative power sources are discovered and implemented, no legal process will be able to control the expanding nature of air pollutants. The fact that the World Health Organization and the United Nations have limited resources and/or regulatory power make it difficult, if not completely impossible, to stop a third world nation from implementing highly inefficient industries in an attempt to grow and prosper. Whole economies like that of the Soviet Union and China function completely on outdated technologies and fuel efficiencies. There is no global authority in place to tell China to stop misusing oil rations. As long as the United States continues to sell Hummers that get an unbelievable eight miles to gallon in many instances, we as a nation are in no position to regulate anything. Although as a nation, we and the other first world industrial powers will force many injustices on the developing nations. If you were to believe the Environmental Agency, the world's industrial air pollution problems are on the decline. "The number of incidents from waste management facilities was significantly lower in 2002 than it was in 2001. In 2001 there were 357 incidents, many of which were linked to the management…[continue]

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