Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the main contributors to global warming. Once the gas is released into the atmosphere, it stays there, making heat leakage difficult – and warming the planet at the same time.
It is mainly released by the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, as well as by the production of cement.
The average monthly concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere in April 2019 is 413 parts per million (ppm). Before the industrial revolution, the concentration was only 280 ppm.
The concentration of CO2 has fluctuated over the past 800,000 years between 180 and 280 ppm, but has been greatly accelerated by human-caused pollution.
Nitrogen dioxide gas (NO2) comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, car exhaust emissions and the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers used in agriculture.
Although there is much less NO2 in the atmosphere than CO2, it is between 200 and 300 times more effective at trapping heat.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) also comes mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels, but can also be released from car exhaust.
SO2 can react with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere to cause acid rain.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an indirect greenhouse gas because it reacts with hydroxyl radicals and eliminates them. Hydroxyl radicals shorten the life of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
What are particles?
Particulate Matter refers to tiny parts of solids or liquids in the air.
Some are visible, like dust, while others cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Materials such as metals, microplastics, soil and chemicals can be particles.
Particulate matter (or PM) is described in micrometers. The two main ones mentioned in reports and studies are PM10 (less than 10 micrometers) and PM2.5 (less than 2.5 micrometers).
Air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels, cars, making cement and farming
Scientists measure the rate of particles in the air per cubic meter.
Particulate matter is released into the air by a number of processes, including burning fossil fuels, driving cars, and making steel.
Why are particles dangerous?
Particles are dangerous because those less than 10 micrometers in diameter can penetrate deep into your lungs or even pass into your bloodstream. Particulate matter is found in higher concentrations in urban areas, especially along main roads.
What types of health problems can pollution cause?
According to the World Health Organization, one-third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease can be linked to air pollution.
Some of the effects of air pollution on the body are not understood, but pollution can increase the inflammation that narrows the arteries, leading to heart attacks or strokes.
In addition, almost one in 10 cases of lung cancer in the UK is caused by air pollution.
Particles enter and lodge in the lungs, causing inflammation and damage. In addition, certain chemicals in the particles that enter the body can cause cancer.
Each year, approximately seven million people die prematurely from air pollution. Pollution can cause a number of problems, including asthma attacks, strokes, various cancers, and cardiovascular problems.
Air pollution can cause problems for people with asthma for a number of reasons. Pollutants in traffic fumes can irritate the airways and particles can enter your lungs and throat and inflame these areas.
According to a study suggested in January 2018, women exposed to air pollution before becoming pregnant are almost 20% more likely to have babies with birth defects.
A study from the University of Cincinnati found that living less than 3 miles from a month before conception makes women more likely to give birth to babies with defects such as cleft palate or lips.
For every 0.01 mg / m3 increase in fine air particles, birth defects increase by 19%, adds the research.
Previous research suggests that it causes birth defects due to women’s inflammation and “internal stress”.
What are we doing to fight air pollution?
Paris Agreement on climate change
The Paris Agreement, which was signed for the first time in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.
He hopes to keep the global average temperature increase below 2 ° C (3.6 ° F) “and continue his efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F) “.
Carbon neutral by 2050
The British government has announced plans to make the country carbon neutral by 2050.
They plan to do this by planting more trees and installing “carbon capture” technology at the source of the pollution.
Some critics fear that this first option will be used by the government to export its carbon offset to other countries.
International carbon credits allow nations to continue emitting carbon while paying for planting trees elsewhere, balancing their emissions.
No new petrol or diesel vehicles by 2040
In 2017, the British government announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned by 2040.
From around 2020, town halls will be allowed to levy additional charges on diesel drivers using the UK’s 81 most polluted routes if the air quality does not improve.
However, members of the climate change committee urged the government to postpone the ban to 2030, because by then they will have an equivalent range and price.
The Paris Agreement, which was signed for the first time in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change. In the photo: air pollution over Paris in 2019.
Norwegian subsidies for electric cars
The rapid electrification of the Norwegian vehicle fleet is mainly attributed to generous state subsidies. Electric cars are almost entirely exempt from the heavy taxes imposed on petrol and diesel cars, which makes them competitively priced.
A VW Golf with a standard combustion engine costs almost 334,000 crowns (34,500 euros, $ 38,600), while its electric cousin the e-Golf costs 326,000 crowns thanks to a lower tax quotient.
Critics of inaction on climate change
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has said that there is a “shocking” lack of government preparation for the risks of climate change to the country.
The committee assessed 33 areas where climate change risks needed to be addressed – from the resilience of properties to floods to impacts on farmland and supply chains – and found no real progress in any of them. them.
The United Kingdom is not prepared for a 2 ° C warming, the level at which countries have pledged to curb temperature increases, not to mention an increase of 4 ° C, which is possible if gases greenhouse gases are not reduced globally, the committee said.
He added that cities need more green space to stop the urban heat island effect and to prevent flooding by absorbing heavy precipitation.