Air Pollution Solutions
- Encourage government-funded research projects to develop clean electric transportation methods to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Today, Americans use 384 billion gallons of oil per day for transportation alone (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2010) and considering that every gallon of gasoline produces 19 pounds of carbon dioxide (Engber, 2006), that results in the production of 7.3 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide every day. Converting to electric vehicles will also help to eliminate the production of other unwanted by products such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. In addition, because electricity can be generated through many different methods, the transition to electrically-driven vehicles will present greater flexibility in the ways power can be obtained for use in transportation.
- Promote the development of clean, renewable, and environmentally-friendly energy sources to continue moving away from fossil fuels. Currently, the U.S. derives 85 percent of its energy from fossil fuels compared to the 7 percent acquired from renewable sources (The National Academies, 2008). Converting to sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal will produce electricity without carbon emissions; not only will these sources be both reliable and renewable, they will helpe make the transition to electric transportation smoother because these technologies can be adpated depending on a region's available resources.
- Apply the carbon credit system to other known atmospheric pollutants such as sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and aerosols and annually reduce the total amount of pollutants permitted. These standards must be adhered to specifically and punishments should be severe to ensure polluters meet quotas.
- Replace fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs with LED light fixtures. LED lights are known to be 50 percent more efficient than fluorescent lights and 90 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs (Design Recycle Inc.). In the U.S., the lighting sector is currently 11 percent of residential energy consumption, which is 41 percent of the nation's total energy usage (The National Academies, 2008). Simply replacing every light bulb in American homes with an LED equivalent would cut the nation's energy consumption by approximately 4 percent. Then, considering that America uses 20 percent of the world's energy (The National Academies, 2008), installing these light bulbs alone would reduce the global usage by .8 percent, which is substantial considering this does not include the replacement of light bulbs in other industrialized countries. The feasibility of LED lighting is also promising because of the enormous gain in efficiency; in this case, people save money by becoming more efficient and can reap the profits long after the fixtures have paid for themselves.
- Request that nations enact and enforce strict regulations requiring the use of air scrubbers on all industrial facilities that release atmospheric pollutants. Since the enactment of the Clean Air Act in 1977, only 44 percent of smokestacks emitting sulfur oxides have installed air scrubbers, while only 37 percent of smokestacks producing nitrogen oxides have begun to use air scrubbers (Epstein, 2011). The lack of enforcement has led to the continued production of atmospheric pollution showing that government entities must adhere to the guidelines they present if they truly wish for results. The emission of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and aerosols has a significant impact on the chemical balance of ecosystems and the survivability of species. In addition, humans are not insusceptible to the harmful side effects of atmospheric pollution; the EPA estimates that simply installing scrubbers would protect the lives of 17,000 people annually in the United States from respiratory related deaths (Epstein, 2011).