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A Look at Pollution by the Numbers

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A Look at Pollution by the Numbers

When I was a kid, the newspapers were full of reports about acid rain. I remember learning about the hole in the ozone. I remember watching cartoons on Saturday mornings and Woodsy Owl imploring that we “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”

I think the idealist in me believed that I was growing up in a world that was recognizing the damage it had done to the earth. I thought that by the time I reached adulthood these issues would be addressed, we’d heal our earth, and we’d live in harmony with nature. Obviously, I was wrong.

As Earth Day 2012 approaches, let’s take a moment to reflect on some statistics on pollution and some tips for how we can all start pitching in more.

Air Pollution

While we’ve successfully managed to cut back on some environmental pollutants in our air, air quality and pollution is becoming an increasing problem. With hugely populated countries like China and India industrializing rapidly, the air quality is looking to get worse before it gets better.

- In the United States, exhaust from vehicles make up approximately 60 percent of all carbon monoxide emissions countrywide. Furthermore, each tank of gas the average sedan consumes adds 330 pounds of carbon dioxide to the pollution.

- International Wildlife magazine reports that in since 1987, U.S. factories have been releasing over 1.2 million tons of toxic chemicals directly into our atmosphere.

- Worldwatch State of the World Report estimates that, in the U.S. alone, air pollution is the leading factor in almost $40 billion in health care expenditures and lost time from work.

So what can we do? First, try to rely on public transportation, bicycling, and walking as much as possible. Even just parking the car one day a week can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint.

Next, consolidate the number of trips you’ll need to utilize your vehicle for. Instead of running to the store once or twice a day, try to dedicate one day to running errands and get as much of it done as possible.

Finally, don’t let your car idle. After 10 seconds of idling, you are actually using more gas than if you turned the engine off and restarted.

Next: Soil & Water Pollution

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Adria Saracino

Adria Saracino is the Head of Outreach at Distilled, an Internet marketing agency, where she connects businesses and helps them establish meaningful partnerships. You can also find Adria talking and tweeting about fashion through her blog, The Emerald Closet.


+ add your own
5:19AM PDT on May 7, 2012

Thanks for the article. It's such a big problem. I feel overwhelmed and stressed out just thinking about it! Sometimes it's hard to remember that doing my part and turning out the lights and recycling makes any difference at all.

1:51AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

I wish Jane B. would learn (after all these years) that the over-use of capital letters is regarded as rude - akin to shouting.
Often one hears Canadians wondering why there are so many young children who suffer from asthma and allergies ..... they appear not to know about or perhaps not acknowledge the high level of pollutants in our air and in our lungs...

6:04AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Thanks for the article.

7:57AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

One number you should be aware of is how many children in your local school suffer from asthma. Ask the school nurse, without asking for names. This is a good statistic to beat up you congressman with.

3:17AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

Yes, the "Nazi Catholic regime" of which Jane always speaks of, must be taken down immediately! Straight jacket anyone?

12:31AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

Thanks--great post.

6:15PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Sandra, indeed, we need to take down the Catholic regime first of all. They have brainwashed billions of poor people to pop out more Catholics to keep their ponzi scheme going. The greedy, money grubbing Pope keeps blocking BIRTH CONTROL and that's what's CAUSING a lot of OVERPOPULATION. Mass PROTESTS against Toys R Us is NOT GOING TO DO IT, WE NEED MASS PROTESTS AGAINST THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ALL RELIGIOUS CULTS! The MORMONS have whole towns of marriages to UNDERAGE GIRLS IN UTAH and their SOLE PURPOSE IS TO POP OUT BABIES. Let's PROTEST THE GOP NAZIS IN OUR GOVERNMENT TOO. THEIR AGENDA IS TO POP OUT MORE BABIES FOR THEIR WAR MACHINE!!!! They want to BLOCK BIRTH CONTROL TO FORCE POOR WOMEN TO GIVE BIRTH!!!! THEY WANT TO DENY LEGAL

5:44PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012


3:29PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Thanks. Interesting article and good ideas,

3:00PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Mass protests against overpopulation (outside maternities, mothercare, toys'r'us, etc) is what we should be doing.

Global overpopulation is becoming more and more pressing every day and needs to take centre stage as the greatest issue of our time.

It is time for serious steps to control rampant world population, in an era of too many people and not enough resources to go around.

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