What you Need to Know about Air Pollution
With climate change becoming a major area of concern across the globe, air pollution is a topic that needs to be a closely paid attention to. Globally, cities track and report the air pollution that is produced within their area. To better fix and ideally prevent the air pollution issues in the world, cities are beginning to take steps to improve the air quality that its citizens are breathing daily.
Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gas that is introduced into the atmosphere and has harmful effects on the environment and living things. There are many pollutants, greenhouse gases, that have aided in global warming such as carbon dioxide, methane, and sulfur dioxide, but carbon dioxide is the number one air pollutant in our world today. Just over the past 150 years, the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere have significantly increased (Essick, 2017). Carbon dioxide is emitted from living things when they breathe, but it is largely produced when fossil fuels are burned by objects such as cars and power plants. When pollutants from cars, factories, and other sources react chemically with sunlight a bad ozone layer or ground-level pollution is created. This is how smog is formed within cities. Not only are these pollutants bad for the environment, but they can be poisonous for living creatures. Pollutants can cause coughing, throat irritation, worsening of asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema in humans. If regularly exposed to pollutants, it could lead to permanent lung damage and heart problems as well.
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One Asian megacity that is struggling with air pollution is Hong Kong. Most of the air pollution that is created in Hong Kong is due to motor vehicles, marine vessels, and power plants causing pollution and smog. The main contributors of the ground-level pollution are diesel vehicles such as trucks and buses (Air Quality in Hong Kong, 2017). In 2013, the Environment Bureau of Hong Kong released A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong. The plan included a thorough background of Hong Kong’s air quality stating that the amount of high emissions from the region is due to the large quantities of economic opportunities that are present. Also because of the geography of the area, there is not a lot of circulation by the water which traps the pollution leading to very poor air quality in Hong Kong (“”A Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong””, 2013). The plan describes how the air pollution coming from power plants, land and sea transport, and non-road mobile machinery can be significantly reduced in the next couple decades.
There are numerous ways that cities can step up and reduce their carbon footprint. In 2016, 118 countries ratified an agreement, known as the Paris Agreement, to take measures to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (Essick, 2017). China, India, and the United States were among the 118 countries that agreed to partake in this effort to help fight climate change and adapt to its effects. This voluntary agreement’s main goal is to keep the earth’s temperature from rising two degrees Celsius. In 2000, 12 of the 15 countries with the worst air pollution were in Asia.