One of the major environmental problems in terms of the impact on people’s well-being is air pollution, and its global scope requires collective efforts to find a solution. The feasibility of a shift in human activity with regard to the specified challenge is explained by its connection to the use of fossil fuels, which is frequently not controlled by authorities. Consequently, the awareness of the population does not contribute to any improvements in this area. Air pollution leads to various health issues, such as preterm birth or all-cause mortality, increases vulnerability to COVID-19, and the public is unable to act independently, which is why legislative and infrastructural shifts are mandatory.
The examination of the influence of air pollution on the quality of life is usually conducted by assessing its consequences for the population’s health. In this way, the scholars confirm the role of ultrafine particle, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrous oxide exposure in this respect (Konkel; Stieb; Chaney 10). The presence of these substances in the places of people’s residence or work lead to their increased susceptibility to different conditions and other related issues. They primarily include higher mortality rates due to the problems with pulmonary function, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, respiratory disease, and ischemic heart disease alongside the risks of premature births (Pansini; Chaney 12; Konkel; Stieb). These data allow concluding on the necessity to take measures by developing initiatives intended to address the factors causing the mentioned challenges.
In addition, the situation worsens at the time of crises affecting people’s health due to the higher risks attributed to these events combined with the problems described above. For example, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic evoked researchers’ concerns regarding the chances for citizens to get infected stemming from their place of residence (Pansini and Fornacca). They claim that the mortality rates for infected people from regions with greater levels of air pollution are significantly higher (Pansini and Fornacca). Therefore, addressing the issues related to the adverse impact of this circumstance can not only enhance the overall well-being of citizens but also ensure their relative safety during pandemics. Meanwhile, performing this task in the conditions of the lack of understanding of the threats and their sources by people implies its impossibility when approached individually (Chaney 9). This fact explains why the introduction of legislative and infrastructural shifts on the global scale seems feasible, which should also be aimed at increasing awareness of citizens, not the other way round.
The Need for Legislative and Infrastructional Shifts
The findings from studies on the impact of air pollution confirm the necessity to act, and it should be expressed in designing programs intended to make a change by conducting legislative and infrastructural shifts. The data from the article devoted to the initiative developed in California proves that an average annual decrease of about twelve million tons of carbon and greenhouse emissions is easy to achieve (Aines and Peridas 83). This measure is efficient for improving the quality of air in the region and, therefore, can be adopted by other places regarding their specific needs deriving from the presence of harmful substances (Aines and Peridas 86; Konkel). This model ensures particular solutions, including reforestation and direct air capture, and it will be productive when acting together to match the perceptions with actual threats (Aines and Peridas 82; Chaney). In this way, the improvements will be achieved through the implementation of techniques of negative emissions.
The justification of this policy course is connected to the fact that a carbon-neutral economy will be more advantageous for all participants. In other words, the proper use of energy, development of renewable sources and carbon storage sites, and cleaner cars will help ensure the safety of people while promoting their prosperity (Aines and Peridas 86; Pansini and Fornacca). As a result, the emissions of this nature might be reduced to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 by the combined efforts of legislators and authorities (Aines and Peridas 85). Thus, the experience of this state in the matter is sufficient for explaining the suitability of similar measures for overcoming the risks implied by air pollution for millions of people around the world.
The Opposition’s Point of View
The adoption of plans adjusted to the specific needs of different regions concerning the quality of air and its importance for health is beneficial, but it also includes several limitations. First, the projects like the one in California might have unexpected results in terms of their costs, and the shift away from the use of fossil fuels is impossible when considering a single substance (Aines and Peridas 82; Konkel). Since the external factors remain unknown and there are no ways to coordinate the actions of policymakers in different areas related to this problem, they are unlikely to be widely implemented.
Second, the limited evidence of deaths caused by residual emissions and co-pollutants and the effects of the exposure to them leads to the lack of clarity in the cause and effect relationships of these substances and one’s health. On the contrary, the scholars managed to prove the presence of uncertainties in this regard, whereas a variety of important environmental factors in the matter cannot be considered adequately (Stieb; Konkel). In other words, one cannot rely on the data received in the context of significant limitations, and the health condition of people living in particular areas should be examined with the inclusion of their lifestyle.
Third, the wide adoption of technologies providing for negative emissions as the principal proposed solution can be complicated by the lack of support by people. It is still unclear if business owners are likely to participate in the programs for reducing air pollution or the population’s ignorance regarding the causes of this problem will prevail (Aines and Peridas 82; Chanley). Since the contributions of all citizens involved in any business operations are the key to a successful introduction and implementation of environmental projects, their absence might lead to their complete failure. It can also evoke disappointment with the financial losses of the entrepreneurs participating in the programs.
Response to the Opposition’s Argument
The specified issues seem critical for the outcomes of initiatives on the improvement of the quality of air through making legislative and infrastructural shifts. Nevertheless, these obstacles can be easily overcome by the attention of policymakers to the possible adverse outcomes. For example, the problem of unexpectedness in relation to the costs of conducting the initiatives of dubious efficiency due to their limited scope can be addressed by the creation of a mechanism coordinating the work. The estimated expenses for them are between $6 billion and $15 billion, which is affordable, and the combination of different measures seems possible from the perspective of recent studies using a complex approach (Aines and Peridas 87; Pansini and Fornacca). As for the uncertain findings of the studies justifying the need for a change, they can be compensated for by closer examination with the use of other external factors. It means that additional research is required, whereas there are no sufficient data to claim the lack of grounds for implementing the programs until their results are received.
In turn, the issue of the lack of support by citizens and, most importantly, business owners presents no threats to the introduction of the described environmental initiatives. Thus, the scholars claim that their economic viability can be achieved through additional financing of enterprises participating in them to guarantee their response and increase awareness (Aines and Peridas 87; Chaney). Moreover, the results of California’s use of carbon dioxide removal systems, primarily various direct air capture systems, prove the increasing involvement of organizations, which recognize their benefits from cooperation (Aines and Peridas 86). These circumstances allow concluding on a limited probability of adverse outcomes in other places deriving from the population’s response.
To summarize, legislative and infrastructural shifts are the best solution to the health problems deriving from the poor quality of air. Their feasibility is confirmed by numerous studies reflecting on the typical consequences of neglect of this challenge alongside the impossibility to change the situation without combining the efforts. This task is especially important during pandemics, and the experience of California in this regard should be used as a model. The obstacles to the plan implementation include the lack of certainty in some studies, limited evidence, and the possible lack of support, which can be easily eliminated. Thus, everyone should be active in participating in environmental initiatives on reducing air pollution to maintain a high quality of life for the population.
Aines, Roger D., and George Peridas. “Getting to ZERO–and Beyond: California’s aspiration to become the first carbon-negative state appears to be achievable and affordable.” Issues in Science and Technology, vol. 36, no. 3, 2020, p. 80+. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.
Chaney, Robbie A., et al. “A Comparison of Perceived and Measured Commuter Air Pollution Exposures.” Journal of Environmental Health, vol. 82, no. 4, 2019, p. 8+. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.
Konkel, Lindsey. “Move Over, Traffic: Aircraft Emissions and Preterm Birth.” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 128, no. 7, 2020, p. 74003. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.
Pansini, Riccardo, and Davide Fornacca. “COVID-19 Higher Mortality in Chinese Regions With Chronic Exposure to Lower Air Quality.” Frontiers in Public Health, 2021, p. NA. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.
Stieb, David M., et al. “Systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies of long term outdoor nitrogen dioxide exposure and mortality.” PLoS ONE, vol. 16, no. 2, 2021, p. e0246451. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Web.