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The fact that we live in a polluted world is no secret or surprise. However, some people often still struggle to really come to grips with just how bad pollution is. We often see litter and trash in green spaces around us, but we equally continue to see many green spaces, so it is hard to imagine just how bad the situation is. The following facts, however, may highlight the problem slightly better.
1. It Is One of the Biggest Killers in the World
Pollution kills. It kills people, wildlife and plants. Some 100 million people are affected by pollution. This means that it is about as bad as HIV or malaria. It does this in a number of different ways, including reducing livable spaces, reducing air quality and contaminating water.
2. City Pollution Is Incredibly Bad
During the 1980s and 1990s, people were incredibly worried about ‘acid rain’ the ‘hole in the ozone layer’ and ‘smog’. They were the three main environmental concerns for people. Yet, somehow, they seemed to have gone away. In reality, however, those issues are still present. In Paris, France, for instance, if smog levels get very high, nobody is allowed to drive a car through the city anymore. In many Chinese cities, people are considering the use of face covers to protect themselves from the contaminated air. Cities have huge amounts of traffic and cars often run bumper to bumper. What people don’t realize is that, while they are in their cars, the air can be up to 10 times as polluted as the regular air in the city. This is because the exhaust fumes seep into the vehicle.
3. It Is Hard to Point the Pollution Finger of Blame
A lot of people want to know who is most responsible for all this pollution. However, it is impossible to give an answer to that question. This is because there are so many different types of pollution, for starters. They include soil, air and water. Looking specifically at countries, the worst polluter is China, followed by us. Russia, India and Japan are also high up on the list, followed by Germany and Canada. Next is the United Kingdom, followed by South Korea. This surprises many people because South Korea is a relative small country. Finally, there is Iran. In terms of types of pollutants, cars are the biggest problem worldwide. In terms of natural pollution, the worst offenders are cows. However, some environmental activists suggest that this is as a direct result of human consumption, as we eat and drink so many dairy and beef products.
4. Bottled Water Is a Huge Problem
Bottled water is a very fashionable thing in our country. People drink it as part of trying to get healthy. They also feel that bottled water is less touched by pollution. Whether or not that is true is up for debate. What is definitely true, however, is that this bottled water contributes massively to pollution. Consider, for instance, that some 29 billion bottles of it are bought each year. To manufacture these, 17 million barrels of crude oil are needed. This is the same oil needed to drive 1 million vehicles for a year. Most worrying is that just 13% of the 29 billion bottles are recycled. It takes hundreds of years for a plastic bottle to decompose. Burning is not a good alternative because this releases various toxic, heavily polluting byproducts, including heavy metal ash and chlorine gas.
5. There Is a Garbage Continent
While few people have actually ever seen it, unless they engage in ocean crossings, there is actually a garbage continent. It is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is an accumulation of plastic trash. It literally floats somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and is believed to be twice the size of this country. The dangers associated with this patch in terms of wildlife are tremendous, with many fish and birds getting trapped in it. Little to nothing can be done about it and it has been created fully by human beings’ wasteful behavior.
These are just some of the facts that may give you a better idea of just how bad pollution on our planet actually is. Consider, as well, that some 700 million people in China drink contaminated water every day, and that 30% of waste is created by Americans (even though we only make up 5% of the population of the planet), while also consuming 25% of the world’s resources.