Smog dims the sky, its very tiny particles lethal
Dirty Ocean Vessels Might Finally Get Smogged
Pollution merely means we don’t have our prices right. That’s something we can fix with geonomics. We trim, blend, and append three 2009 articles from: (1) Health Day News, Mar 11, on ozone by Amanda Gardner; (2) AP, Mar 12, on dim skies; and (3) ENS, Mar 30, on ship smog.
by Amanda Gardner, by AP, and by ENS
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
Thousands of Americans are dying each year from lung disease caused by atmospheric ozone. The report, published in the March 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, also found that that tiny components of smog called "fine particulate matter" had a clear link to cardiovascular deaths. That suggests that we have to deal with both pollutants.
The greatest risk may for those living be in hot, dry cities such as Los Angeles, which has one of the highest concentrations of ozone. Residents of Los Angeles may face a 25% to 30% higher annual risk of dying from a respiratory ailment versus people in low-ozone areas such as the Great Plains.
One in three Americans lives in an area that exceeds the national standard for ozone levels, but many scientists advocate still lower levels. An estimated 240,000 people in the United States and 7.7 million people worldwide die of respiratory disease each year.
When hovering seven miles above the earth, ozone is beneficial because it blocks ultraviolet radiation from the sun. However, closer to the ground it infiltrates the lungs and may cause damage. Ozone is also a powerful greenhouse gas.
JJS: Perhaps less serious than human health, but still a problem, is how artificial our surroundings have become, even the sky above -- tho’ somewhere there’s progress.
Skies Dimming Due To Pollution Everywhere Except Europe
For most of the world, increases in airborne pollution have been diluting sunlight over the past 30 years. Known as global dimming, researchers report in the journal Science that dimming is occurring everywhere except Europe, where declines in pollution have resulted in brighter skies.
A suggested high-atmosphere "sunshade" of particles to battle global warming could reduce energy production from centralized solar power plants. Flat photovoltaic and hot water panels, commonly seen on household roofs, use both diffuse and direct sunlight, so they would be less affected.
JJS: Now for some good news. The people who’re supposed to be defending our rights are doing a bit more of that.
U.S., Canada Seek to Control Air Emissions from Ships
Ocean-going vessels, primarily foreign owned and operated, dock at more than 100 U.S. ports, more than 40 of which are in metropolitan areas that fail to meet federal air quality standards.
The United States and Canada have moved to protect North American residents from harmful ship emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter emissions by becoming the first two countries to ask the International Maritime Organization to create an emissions control area (ECA) around their coastlines extending out 200 miles (300 kilometers).
The U.S. and Canada typically see over 93,000 vessel calls at their ports annually. In addition, many more vessels operate in the proposed ECA that do not call on U.S. or Canadian ports, but instead are en route to Mexico or South America.
The two countries have a combined population in excess of 330 million, over half of whom reside along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Because ship pollution travels great distances, much of the inland population also will benefit from the cleaner air made possible by fuel and engine controls.
The creation of an ECA would save up to 8,300 American and Canadian lives every year by 2020 and avoid some 3.4 million instances of respiratory ailments, such as asthma.
Adoption of this ECA would also help reduce the stresses on sensitive ecosystems, including numerous forests, grasslands, alpine areas, wetlands, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and coastal waters.
Meeting ECA standards would increase operating costs for a ship between Singapore, Seattle, and Los Angeles/Long Beach -- about 1,700 nautical miles of operation in the proposed ECA -- by about three percent.
Beatrice Olivastri, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Canada, said "Ships are currently burning fuel 1,800 times dirtier than diesel trucks and the emission control area would achieve a sulfur reduction to 0.1% -- still 66 times dirtier than ultra low diesel." This is a starting point -- not an end point.
The IMO, a United Nations agency, will begin reviewing the proposal in July. A joint application will be received more favorably at the International Maritime Organization. A decision could be issued next year.
JJS: While this is progress, some more fundamental steps to take address the bottom line by adopting geonomics. That, to clear the air it makes sense to quit subsidizing polluters -- here, shippers and to quit taxing labor and capital, so cleaner ways can be found and implemented. At the same time, recover and share the rental value of resources (like Alaska’s oil dividend), so that on one hand old entrenched grey ways won’t be as desirable to investors and on the other everyone will have a stronger identity with and a stake in the health of the earth.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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