Most of the air pollution caused on our planet comes from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas, and gasoline.
The problem with this scenario is that burning fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, causing the planet to warm up. These greenhouse emissions – if not taken seriously – can lead to dire consequences.
Think about this, just a 2˚Celsius change in the planet’s temperature can cause massive disturbances to our ecosystems.
When fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen into the atmosphere, which ends up disturbing the natural balance of carbon dioxide and nitrogen that’s already in the atmosphere. When you then combine the sun’s energy with the extra gases trapped in our atmosphere, you’re left with a greenhouse effect which ultimately raises the earth’s temperature.
These emissions ultimately affect us in two ways:, they pollute the air we breathe, while they damage our planet’s ecosystems.
Rising temperatures and their deadly effect on the world’s ecosystems
According to Popular Science, “Rising temperatures will damage ecosystems and species that cannot adapt, including those in coral reefs and Arctic areas.” Do you know what happens when coral reefs die off? Aquatic life quickly dwindles with most species becoming extinct.
This means most of the seafood that we enjoy on a daily basis will become non-existent, ultimately leading to world-wide famine.
The same can also happen to land animals. The warming of our planet won’t happen quickly, but eventually over time, the warming atmosphere will begin to cause certain land animals to become extinct which will devastate our ecosystem.
There are many environmental impacts when it comes to burning fossil fuels, but none usually get as much attention as the rising of sea levels. This is a giant concern for countries all around the globe. As the planet’s internal temperature keeps rising, water levels will rise as well, causing major cities such as Miami, New Orleans, and even New York to see parts of their cities under water.
The direct correlation between burning fossil fuels and air pollution
Industrial operations, coal burning power plants, and companies that rely on trucks and cars, tend to burn a significant amount of fuel. Unless these companies are conscious in their efforts towards improving the environment, they will usually be the biggest culprits in terms of burning fossil fuels. This is why governments are regulating these companies, and requiring them to get various air permits for burning and industrial emissions.
Companies need to be regulated, otherwise people will suffer at the hands of carbon dioxide emissions. Smog and acid rain are a direct result from the emissions of carbon dioxide, which can lead to dire health implications. “These materials can cause bronchitis and pneumonia, decreased resistance to respiratory infections and irritate the lungs,” per Seattle Pi.
What you can do to improve the air you breathe
On a global scale you might wonder just how much of an impact you can really make to improve the air quality. Well surprisingly, you can make a pretty big difference by simplifying one daily habit – driving.
Let us explain.
Car usage is major factor when it comes to air pollution. Now obviously it’s impossible to walk or bike everywhere you go, but if that method of transportation presents itself and is feasible to do – do it. Utilizing carpoolscar pools with friends, or using public transportation are also other ways you can make a difference.
The average U.S. commute is generally 15 to 16 miles, with the average vehicle emitting around 400 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. This equates to a little less than 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. When you multiply that by the millions of people driving to and from work, you end up with a huge amount of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
This is why we recommend biking to work or anywhere in general, when given the opportunity. For more in-depth information on biking and the effects of your carbon footprint, check out our article “Bike to work? Check out your carbon footprint.”
At the end of the day we only have one planet to call home. So it’s imperative that we continue to educate and raise awareness when it comes to fossil fuels. Following these simple tips mentioned above can really go a long way in making sure our grandkids and great grandkids can enjoy the same planet that we’ve been fortunate enough to call home.