Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the biggest causes of global warming. After the gas is released into the atmosphere, it stays there, making it difficult for heat to escape – thereby warming the planet.
It is mainly released during the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, and during the production of cement.
The average monthly concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, as of 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 over the past 800,000 years, but has accelerated enormously due to pollution caused by humans.
The gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, car exhaust fumes and the use of nitrogenous 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 retaining heat.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) also comes mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels, but can also be released from car exhaust fumes.
SO2 can react with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere and cause acid rain.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an indirect greenhouse gas because it reacts with and removes hydroxyl radicals. Hydroxyl radicals shorten the life of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
What is particulate matter?
Particulate matter refers to small parts 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 occur in fine dust.
Particulate matter (or PM) is described in micrometers. The two main ones mentioned in reports and studies are PM10 (less than 10 microns) and PM2.5 (less than 2.5 microns).
Air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels, cars, cement production and agriculture
Scientists measure the speed of particulate matter in the air per cubic meter.
Particulate matter is sent into the air by a number of processes, including the burning of fossil fuels, driving cars and making steel.
Why are particulate matter dangerous?
Particles are dangerous because those less than 10 micrometers in diameter can get deep into your lungs, or even get into your bloodstream. Particulate matter is found in higher concentrations in urban areas, especially along main roads.
Effects on health
What kinds of health problems can pollution cause?
According to the World Health Organization, a third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease may be related to air pollution.
Some of the effects of air pollution on the body are not understood, but pollution can increase inflammation that narrows arteries, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
In addition, nearly one in ten lung cancer cases in the UK is caused by air pollution.
Particles find their way to the lungs and get trapped there, causing inflammation and damage. In addition, some chemicals in particles that enter the body can cause cancer.
Deaths from pollution
About seven million people die prematurely every year from air pollution. Pollution can cause a number of problems, including asthma attacks, strokes, various cancers and cardiovascular problems.
Air pollution can cause problems in asthma patients for a number of reasons. Pollutants in traffic fumes can irritate the airways and particles can get into your lungs and throat and make these areas inflamed.
Problems during pregnancy
Women exposed to air pollution before they become pregnant are nearly 20 percent more likely to have babies with birth defects, research suggested in January 2018.
Living within three miles of a heavily contaminated area a month before they become pregnant makes women more likely to give birth to babies with defects such as cleft palate or lips, a University of Cincinnati study found.
For every 0.01 mg / m3 increase in fine air particles, birth defects increase by 19 percent, the study adds.
Previous research suggests this causes birth defects due to inflammation and ‘internal stress’ in women.
What is being done to tackle air pollution?
Paris Agreement on Climate Change
First signed in 2015, the Paris Agreement is an international agreement to control and mitigate climate change.
It hopes to keep the rise in the Earth’s average temperature below 2 ° C (3.6 ° F) ‘and make efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F)’.
CO2 neutral by 2050
The UK government has announced plans to make the country climate 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 are concerned that the government will use this first option to export its carbon offsets to other countries.
International carbon credits allow countries to continue to emit carbon while paying for trees to be planted elsewhere, balancing their emissions.
No new petrol or diesel vehicles in 2040
In 2017, the UK government announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned by 2040.
However, MPs on the climate change committee have urged the government to bring the ban forward to 2030, as they will have an equal margin and price by then.
First signed in 2015, the Paris Agreement is an international agreement to control and mitigate climate change. Pictured: air pollution over Paris in 2019.
Norwegian subsidies for electric cars
The rapid electrification of the Norwegian automotive fleet is mainly attributed to generous government subsidies. Electric cars are almost completely exempt from the heavy taxes on petrol and diesel cars, which means that they are 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 rate.
Criticism of inactivity on climate change
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has said there is a “shocking” lack of government preparation for the risks of climate change to the country.
The committee assessed 33 areas where the risks of climate change needed to be addressed – from property flood resilience to impacts 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 pledged to curb the temperature rise, let alone a 4 ° C rise, which is possible if greenhouse gases are not reduced worldwide, the committee said.
It added that cities need more green to stop the urban ‘heat island’ effect and to prevent flooding by soaking up heavy rainfall.