Fast Focus 'What should we do about global warming?' Improving air quality

February 10, 2013 

First of all, it would be nice if the Al Gores of the world would acknowledge that: A) There was dramatic global climate change going on long before man showed up. B) There are many different factors which influence climate change. C) Many of those factors (such as volcanic activity) are completely beyond the influence of humans. D) "Experts" don't know everything yet and probably never will.

That being said, there are plenty of good reasons to work toward improving air quality. There are things that we in the U.S. can do, but many serious issues require efforts outside of the USA. Dealing with coal mine fires and global reforestation are two such items. We never hear anything about coal mine fires, but according to Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) there are large coal mine fires which have been burning around the globe for more than 130 years! C&EN believes that these fires are major contributors of greenhouse gases. Most of these fires are in China, some are in India. Apparently, nothing is being done to put them out. Deforestation is rarely mentioned. One of the earliest science principles I learned was that animals take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide while plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. If you remove large amounts of plants, that by itself alters the carbon dioxide/oxygen balance. Deforestation has occurred all over the planet. How many of us know, for instance, that the now-barren Easter Island was covered with trees before the folks showed up who erected all those giant head sculptures?

Closer to home, we suffered a great deal from forest fire smoke last summer. Every few years, forestry experts re-evaluate forest management practices, conclude they've been doing things wrong and initiate changes. Do they have things right now? Probably not. Locally, we have great quantities of chemicals (mostly agricultural) sprayed on us each year. It would be nice to have that reduced. We also suffer locally from smoke from agricultural burning. There are many days each summer when I cannot safely work in my yard due to chemical sprays or ag burning. I've even had smoke detectors inside my house tripped by smoke from an agricultural burn several miles away. I don't recall that there was any local agricultural burning before the early 1980s. It would be nice to see that eliminated.

My personal theory is that global warming is caused primarily by hot air coming from politicians and I sure don't have a cure for that!

-- MARILYN YOUNG, Pasco

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