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Global Warming Skeptics: What About Air Pollution?

Global Warming Skeptics: What About Air Pollution?

When most people agree on something there will always be a few challenging the consensus. It is a kind of unavoidable balancing act. So despite the overwhelming evidence that human activities are causing global warming, there will be skeptics questioning the science. I suggest that we change the debate. Let’s not argue about science. We may not even need the dire scientific messages about climate change to start transforming our fossil fuel based economies into sustainable renewable energy based economies. There is another, I think, far more compelling argument to shift to clean energy.

When I worked at Ode Magazine in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, I used to bike to our offices in the center of the city. Rotterdam is a big harbor city and I had to fight my way over the bike paths through the morning and evening rush hours. Biking was nice, but it was not nice to inhale all the exhaust fumes from the congested roads full of cars. Air pollution is a major problem. It kills millions of people worldwide every year fact that, as far as I know, is not much disputed.

To be honest I feel much more motivated to clean up the smog in the cities where nowadays the majority of people worldwide lives, than to battle rising sea levels that – as important as that is – is a more abstract phenomenon to me as I ride my bike through the city.

I bet that many of the global warming skeptics share my concerns about air pollution. They live in cities too. They too ride their bikes and they also would like to inhale fresh, unpolluted air. So we should change the conversation with the skeptics. We should invite them to join us to clean up our environments simply because all of us are going to enjoy the results of our efforts. And, guess what, we will halt global warming (but we don’t need to tell them that).

While we start cleaning up the air in our cities, there may be a very innovative way to combat smog right away. Australian naturalist Jay Harman has a plan to mimic the way nature regulates the atmosphere by using jet engines to create six-mile-high vortices. Sounds like science fiction? Read on about how Jay Harman proposes to mix the upper layers of the atmosphere and drive away smog in a free special edition of Ode full of such innovative and inspiring solutions.

More than half of the people on the planet, including most if not all global warming skeptics, daily deal with the threat of air pollution to their health. Shouldn’t that make it easier to come to an agreement to quickly shift to clean energy?

Jurriaan Kamp is Editor-in-Chief of Ode Magazine. A free copy of Ode’s special Copenhagen issue is available here.

Global Warming is a big topic, the Climate Change Conference is a big event, and there are many points of view on both: Be sure to check out Care2′s daily coverage of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference which is taking place now at Bella Center in Copenhagen.

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Jurriaan Kamp

The Intelligent Optimist is a community centered around a magazine, a website and online events and courses. We focus on the people, passion and possibilities changing our world for the better.

94 comments

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10:28PM PDT on May 11, 2011

The Effects Of Air Pollution are diverse and numerous. Air pollution can have serious consequences for the health of human beings, and also severely affects natural ecosystem.

10:13AM PDT on Jun 9, 2010

Peak oil, minerals depletion, deforestation, depletion of fisheries, soil degradation, toxic and nuclear waste, declining per capita food production, desertification, climate change, ultraviolet radiation increases, overpopulation, declining natural gas extraction, the limits to growth on the electric grid and other "critical infrastructure" -- these and many other facets of our overload on the planet are natural limitations on the cancer-like endless growth of industrial civilization.

Most projections of future carbon levels ignore the fact that fossil fuels are finite. Seeing our energy crisis as a decision about how to use the remaining oil can shift the debate toward more productive discussions:
solar panels or battleships,
relocalizing production or globalization,
high speed trains or NAFTA Superhighways,
boosting local businesses or subsidizing Wal-Mart big boxes.

Each decision is a choice whether to address the end of cheap oil, the depletion of resources, and the start of climate change through accelerated business as usual (which will exacerbate and accelerate the problem) or whether we will shift toward more sustainable behaviors.

We need to insist on leaders with the vision and courage to tell people the truth about these crises, their interrelationship, and to act now to mitigate and shift course to save our futures...NOW!

1:18AM PDT on May 1, 2010

thanks for post

5:12AM PDT on Apr 29, 2010

We should invite them to join us to clean our environment simply because each of us can enjoy the results of our efforts.
memory card reader

5:19PM PST on Feb 22, 2010

Wonderful idea, Jurriaan. Thanks for posting.

2:22PM PST on Jan 6, 2010

Well by fighting global warming we would be reducing air pollution by the effect of factories and other business becoming greener in order to survive. If they keep polluting and everyone is using greener businesses for services that they normally would provide, they would have to change their ways or fail. This is one way to look at it.

8:12AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

Even if we cannot stop global warming we still need to reduce pollution. We also need to develop alternatives to fossil fuels.

2:41AM PST on Dec 26, 2009

Good idea. I live in an island in the Azores archipelago and even so there is not as much pollution here like in big cities, when I went on vacation to Flores island that is smaller than the one I live (S.Miguel) I noticed a big difference in air quality. The problem is that most people don't notice the difference unless they get out of where they are! See is believing or in this case breathing is believing lol
take care

4:03PM PST on Dec 25, 2009

We're bicycling from San Francisco to Washington, DC between 24-July and 22-Sept, 2010, without motorized support. Cynthia McKinney, six term Member of Congress and 2008 Green Party nominee for President, is riding. The ride will demonstrate the bicycle as a transformational tool to solve the problems of Climate Change, Oil Wars, the Health Crisis, and the Economic Crunch. Along the way, riders will facilitate community discussions around the question "How can we support each other to live true to our best values?"

Our route, schedule, and discussion group are open to anybody with a free Google account. Please join us. If you would like to bicycle all or part of the route, plan a convergence ride, or host riders passing through your community, please e-mail bike4peace@googlegroups.com. Please forward this and re-post to others who might be interested.

http://b4p.bbnow.org/
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11:06PM PST on Dec 18, 2009

neil k. so true, i agree with every word of your comment.

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