Advocating and gearing for a sustainable, environmentally-friendly future isn’t just good for the environment. Plants, animals, humans and even single celled organisms must work to preserve the balance of nature that allows us to co-exist with one another on this planet.
Yes, being sustainable allows us to peacefully ease Mother Earth’s temperament, which can be kind at times and at other times be unmerciful, but it’s every future generation that passes on our legacy. Being sustainable and eco-friendly is for the children of today and tomorrow.
The next generation needs to have a chance to live in a healthy world. We make our footprint while we are here for a short time, so how about we leave something we’re proud of for future generations to make even better?
A study by UNICEF released last week is taking the internet by storm. About 2 billion children around the world are forced to live with hazardous levels of outdoor air pollution on a daily basis. Around 300 million of those children are currently living in places with the highest toxic levels of air pollution, which is 6 times or more above World Health Organization standards. That’s about 1 in 7 children globally forced to live in such harmful conditions. Children are more susceptible to the harms of polluting as it affects their mental and physical development.
On Monday, the government in New Dehli declared an emergency and completely shut down schools heeding that students instead stay indoors to avoid breathing the toxic air outside. Currently, 25 million people with 8.8 million vehicles live in Dehli, which is ranked as the most polluted city in the world, and has entered its second week of having air pollution levels over 30 times above the World Health Organization guidelines. Some families in Dehli have left the city in fear of developing health issues. It has been reported that citizens haven’t seen the sunrise in a week.
This kind of phenomenon isn’t brand new. The Great Smog of 1952 in London brought a layer of smog that lasted for five days in the city and killed 4,000 Londoners. The event was generated by the burning of coal in fireplaces to warm up homes to combat the frigid temperatures of winter.
What is currently occurring in Dehli comes after the Paris climate agreement went into effect last week along with the second Climate Finance Day event where political leaders and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss funding plans for sustainable alternatives.
Studies and history helps us understand these phenomenons. They help us forsee dangerous trends but the people of New Delhi aren’t preparing for some distant future. They are breathing toxic air today, right now.
It’s no surprise that we’ve done a great deal of damage to the air and atmosphere. Starting in the ’80s, news media outlets were frenzied over the ozone layer, a layer in the Earth’s stratosphere that shields us from the sun’s dangerous UV rays, and its growing, gaping hole caused by human pollution.
After years of observing the growth of the hole, the situation became more apparent to the public and sparked action towards cutting out harmful pollutants from our day to day life. Hairsprays at that time were contributing to the problem and had to undergo a new chemical makeover to rid of the CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that were ripping the ozone layer.
Although a great move, unfortunately hairsprays and CFCs were only a micro-fraction of the problem.
Air pollution comes directly from our energy use, fossil fuels and transportation and it comes indirectly from our consumer choices. Our consumer choices directly drives the production and delivery of goods and services. The process behind these productions requires the use of energy, fossil fuels and transportation and combats our efforts to reduce air pollution.
All living things are made of carbon and either acquire or emit carbon dioxide in some form of way to operate their inner natural processes to survive on Earth. In humans, our lungs breathe in oxygen that is transported to our blood and organs for them to function and as we breathe out our lungs push out toxins such as carbon dioxide that we don’t need. Plants take in carbon dioxide and in their process called photosynthesis they turn it into nutrients. In excess, carbon traps heat in the atmosphere and through the burning of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, oil and coal, we are adding more carbon into the environment than the environment can remove.
Sulfur Dioxide naturally blocks the sun’s rays and allows the Earth to cool down. Volcanoes naturally emit Sulfur Dioxide and are a great aid to cooling down the Earth’s atmosphere. When there is an excess of Sulfur Dioxide from human pollution releasing it into the air, precipitation from clouds mix with the chemical and fall as acid rain that slowly eats away at anything. Small amounts of this chemical can harm the respiratory system and cause difficulty of breathing.
A component of fossil fuels and a much-needed source that creates energy methane is also emitted through livestock, agricultural methods, and organic waste. When unused methane leaks into the atmosphere, it becomes a devastation. Methane absorbs heat exceptionally well, and although it doesn’t linger around as much as carbon dioxide it is 84 times more potent in short-term exposure.
Everything we do in our day to day life uses up energy. Whether you stylize your hair, microwave a burrito, use air conditioning or watch television. It’s obvious to us when we use appliances that we are using energy, we see it on our electricity and gas bills. However, when you buy a bottle of water or buy groceries, the impact you are making can be almost non-existent from your point of view.
The city of Delhi rarely experienced fog or smog back in 1947 and since then the number has grown to 74 days filled with smog in 2013. The situation worsened in the ’90s when there was rapid urban growth and more vehicle traffic added to the city.
In efforts to prevent further pollution, the Delhi government demanded that vehicles switch to a more environmentally-friendly alternative, compressed natural gas. Unfortunately the phase didn’t last, even though fine particle matter (PM) levels significantly fell during this short-lived phase that ended in 2007. In the past year, the Delhi government has attempted to introduce short-term solutions such as regulating traffic and temporarily banning any construction or demolition in the city.
Small Ways to Conserve Big Amounts of Energy
Carpool, bike, walk, ride the bus, run to the store, to work and school, if possible. The less cars on the road emitting exhaust, the less pollution we create every day. If you have to use a car, keep your car tuned up and your tires inflated to ensure least possible amount of emission.
Use environmentally-safe cleaners and paints. Buy products labelled “low VOC” or have the Energy Star label.
Consider using gas logs instead of burning wood/
Use dishwashers and clothes washers when full and dry clothes on a clothesline.
Turn off the lights in rooms you’re not in and use fluorescent lights that require less energy.
Eat locally, and buy produce at the farmer’s markets. Better yet, grow your own garden.
Cut down on your consumption of meat.
In the office, print on both sides of the paper and turn off office equipment, such as computers, printers, fax machine, when you leave.
Avoids using plastic bags and bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
Get rid of junk mail. Companies such as, allow you to stop the delivery of junk mail you only toss in the trash without a glance.
Although small, these changes can make a big impact on our excessive use of energy if more and more people mindfully conserved energy. It is one thing to make the effort to do these small changes but the effort goes unnoticed more people don’t do the same.
Make sure you spread the word and educate others on the importance of conserving energy.