Mitigation and Solution Strategies
By: Edward Kowalski
Sci/275: Environmental Science
David W. Jones
April 29, 2012
My chosen topic is Energy Conservation. The problem with energy conservation is that our entire technology-driven society is built on the use of fossil fuels. Fossil Fuels are considered non-renewable resources. It took millions of years or the Earth to form the coal, oil, and natural gas supplies that we’ve been using for about the last 160 years. At the rate we’re going, we’re going to run out of energy sources, in another few hundred years. We’ll have burned through millions of years, worth of resources in about a thousand years, even with careful conservation.
All this burning of carbon-based materials generates higher levels of both carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, as well as adding thick soot to the atmosphere. Carbon Monoxide is poisonous to humans and animals. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which traps more solar heat in the atmosphere. The soot particles combine with water vapor in the air, to form smog, which makes breathing difficult and increases the risk of lung diseases and infections. Historically, we’ve seen several instances that clearly indicate the severe health risks associated with this type of pollution. Have a look for yourselves: Historic Air Pollution Disasters. There have been several episodes in history which illustrate the harmful effects of acute short-term exposure to air pollution. Among those include: [Belgium's Meuse Valley. During a five-day fog in December 1930, 63 people died, most of the deaths occurring on the fourth and fifth days. Older persons with previously known diseases of the heart or lungs accounted for the majority of fatalities. The signs and symptoms were primarily those caused by a respiratory irritant. They include chest pain, cough, shortness of breath and irritation of the eyes. Sulfur dioxide gas is suspected as the cause of the disaster. Donora, Pennsylvania: Twenty people died and approximately 7,000 or 50% of the population, experienced acute illness during the week of Oct. 25, 1948, when temperature inversion and air stagnation occurred. Persons of all ages became ill, but those over 55 were more severely affected. Those with previous heart or respiratory disease, particularly bronchial asthma, suffered most. Symptoms were primarily respiratory and secondarily gastrointestinal, and included cough, sore throat, chest constriction, shortness of breath, eye irritation, nausea and vomiting. The onset of the illness for most persons occurred on the evening of the third day. Of the 20 who died, 14 had some known heart or lung disease. London, England: Three episodes during which heavy fogs and air pollution were associated resulted in the death of nearly 5,000 people - in 1948, 1952 and 1956.The episode in December of 1952 alone, resulted in at least 3,000 deaths more than expected for that time of year. Although the increase was present in every age group, the greatest increase was in the age group of 45 years and over. More than 80% of these deaths occurred among individuals with known heart and respiratory disease] (SCAQMD website, 1996).
During each of these incidents, comparable conditions were present: limited air Supplies, as a result of low-lying temperature inversions and faint winds, and a continuing heavy output of air pollution from multiple sources. Also, in none of the incidents was technology sophisticated enough to properly monitor the air and diagnosis of the specific causes of the illness and deaths were based on limited evidence gathered after the disasters.
The massive increase in global population over the last century, as well as the growing development of several underdeveloped nations, has greatly exacerbated this problem. The combination of billions of additional people, and more nations developing fossil-fuel...
References: The historical data on smog incidents was from the AQMD website, which
referenced the SCAQMD-1996 source.
The Norman Mineta commentary came from the CNBC website, 2011.
The ASCE estimates on infrastructure repair came from “Policy Today” (April,
The figures for world energy source percentages came from the IEA website (a
report released in 2011).
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