Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the biggest causes of global warming. After the gas is released into the atmosphere, it remains there, making it difficult for heat to escape – and warming the planet in the process.
It is mainly released from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, as well as the production of cement.
The average monthly concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, from April 2019, is 413 parts per million (ppm). Before the industrial revolution, the concentration was only 280 ppm.
The CO2 concentration has fluctuated between 180 and 280 ppm in the last 800,000 years, but has been enormously accelerated by pollution caused by people.
The nitrogen dioxide in gas (NO2) comes from the burning of fossil fuels, car exhaust gases and the use of nitrogen-containing fertilizers used in agriculture.
Although there is much less NO2 in the atmosphere than CO2, it is between 200 and 300 times more effective in capturing heat.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) also comes mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels, but can also be released from car exhausts.
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 and removes hydroxyl radicals. Hydroxyl radicals reduce the life of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
What is particulate matter?
Particulate matter refers to small particles of solids or liquid materials in the air.
Some are visible, such as dust, while others cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Materials such as metals, microplastics, soil and chemicals can contain particles.
Fine dust (or PM) is described in micrometers. The two most important ones mentioned in reports and investigations are PM10 (less than 10 micrometres) and PM2.5 (less than 2.5 micrometres).
Air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels, cars, cement production and agriculture
Scientists measure the speed of particles in the air per cubic meter.
Particulate matter is sent 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 with a diameter of less than 10 microns can get into your lungs or even get into your bloodstream. Particulate matter is found in higher concentrations in urban areas, particularly along main roads.
What health problems can cause pollution?
According to the World Health Organization, one third of deaths from a stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease may be related to air pollution.
Some effects of air pollution on the body are not understood, but pollution can increase inflammation, narrowing the arteries and leading to heart attacks or strokes.
In addition, almost one in ten cases of lung cancer in the UK is caused by air pollution.
Particles find their way into the lungs and end up there, causing inflammation and damage. In addition, some chemicals in particles that end up in the body can cause cancer.
Deaths due to pollution
Every year around seven million people die prematurely due to air pollution. Pollution can cause a number of problems, including asthma attacks, strokes, various forms of cancer, and cardiovascular problems.
Air pollution can cause problems in asthma patients for various reasons. Pollutants in traffic fumes can irritate the airways and particles can get into your lungs and throat and ignite these areas.
Problems during pregnancy
Women who are exposed to air pollution before they become pregnant are nearly 20 percent more likely to have babies with birth defects, a January 2018 study suggested.
Living at a distance of less than 5 km from a highly polluted area a month before they become pregnant, women are more likely to have babies with defects such as cleft palate or lips, a study from the University of Cincinnati.
For every increase of 0.01 mg / m3 fine air particles, birth defects increase by 19 percent, the research adds.
Previous research suggests that this causes birth defects due to women suffering from inflammation and ‘internal stress’.
What is being done to tackle air pollution?
Paris agreement on climate change
The Paris Agreement, first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and mitigate climate change.
It hopes to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 ° C (3.6 ° F) and to continue to make efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F).
Carbon neutral by 2050
The British government has announced plans to make the country CO2 neutral by 2050.
They plan to do this by planting more trees and by installing carbon capture technology at the source of the pollution.
Some critics are concerned that this first option will be used by the government to export its CO2 compensation to other countries.
Thanks to international carbon credits, countries can continue to emit carbon while paying for trees planted elsewhere and balancing their emissions.
No new gasoline or diesel vehicles by 2040
In 2017, the British government announced that the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars would be banned by 2040.
From around 2020, town halls may levy additional charges on diesel drivers using the 81 most polluted routes in the UK if air quality does not improve.
MPs from the climate change committee have, however, urged the government to advance the ban to 2030, because by that time they will have a similar range and the same price.
The Paris Agreement, first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and mitigate climate change. Pictured: air pollution above Paris in 2019.
Subsidies for electric cars in Norway
The rapid electrification of the Norwegian car fleet is mainly attributed to generous government subsidies. Electric cars are almost completely exempt from the heavy taxes on gasoline and diesel cars, making them competitively priced.
A VW Golf with a standard combustion engine costs nearly 334,000 crowns (34,500 euros, $ 38,600), while its electric cousin the e-Golf costs 326,000 crowns thanks to a lower tax rate.
Criticisms of inactivity on climate change
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said there was a “shocking” lack of government preparation for the risks to the country caused by climate change.
The committee assessed 33 areas where the risks of climate change needed to be addressed – from flood resistance of properties to effects on agricultural land and supply chains – and found no real progress in any of these areas.
The UK is not prepared for 2 ° C warming, the level at which countries have committed to curb temperature, let alone a 4 ° C rise, which is possible if greenhouse gases are not cut off globally, the committee said.
It added that cities need more greenery to stop the urban “heat island” effect and prevent flooding by absorbing heavy rainfall.