Steps Towards an Ecosociety: Dealing with Air Pollution
By: Jonathan Roitman
For: Dr. Rao
Course: Poli 385/2
This essay identifies and explains the problem of pollution facing humanity today. It will also propose one of the first ideas which could more effectively limit air pollution, Emission Credit Trading. This can be seen as one of the first steps in the development of an ecosociety. The notion of a viable ecosociety has created considerable problems in terms of deciding the most effective and efficient policies to be implemented. Air pollution has become one of the most serious environmental problems here at home, and throughout the rest of the world. Air pollution is also perhaps one of the more politically sensitive problems because of the numerous economic, environmental and health implications involved.
A key step in the policy-making process is to define the problem to be remedied. If we can not understand the problem, how are we to know what needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, implementing policies on air pollution has the politically undesirable effect of having extensive economic consequences on all sectors of the economy. Therefore, those policies which lead to the development of an ecosociety must be aimed at having the greatest environmental impact while creating minimal economic distortions.
For the purpose of this essay, pollution shall be identified as follows "...the deliberate or accidental introduction to the environment of contaminants, in the form of either wastes or products " (Bryner, 10). This essay will deal with the problem of air pollution. Air pollutants come from heavy industry, fumes from automobiles, jet planes and the like. When speaking of the automobile alone "...each gallon of gas burned releases 22 pounds of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere...the car is the single largest contributor to global warming " (Rifkin 179). Although the majority of the problem areas are in the developing world, these areas can affect the entire world. The atmosphere is not confined to borders like the land. Pollution spreads beyond the borders of any country, and as such, no one region can solve the problem alone. In some developing nations, there are areas that people and animals cannot live in for extended periods of time.
One visitor to the Romanian 'black town' of Cops Mica noted that "the trees and grass are so stained by soot that they look as if they had been soaked in ink." A local doctor reported that even horses can stay only for two years in the town; "then they have to be taken away, or else they will die" (Gore 81).
There are many reasons that pollution has come to the foreground of twentieth century politics. The most important is the effect it has on human life. This does not place the effects that it has on our natural environment as secondary, however, it seems that unless we as human beings are directly affected, we tend to look the other way.
The EPA's 1990 report on urban air quality trends estimates that over 100 million Americans live in areas where pollution exceeds federal air quality standards, as well air pollution is responsible for more then 50,000 to 60,000 premature deaths each year (Bryner, 3)
Air pollution is also the main cause of global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer. If the earth's temperature rises by a mere five degrees, the resulting catastrophe would be immeasurable. It is important to realize that global warming is a direct result of the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere.
"A greater variety of greenhouse gases are created by a myriad of essential human activities, including the generation of power, industrial production, transportation, agriculture and forestry. Mitigating climate change will require major changes in life-style, especially those that consume large amounts of fossil fuels" (Vig and Kraft 313).
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