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.
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