Air Pollution: Global Problem

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ambience: Desert wind

Recently, researchers reported finding sand particles from Asia’s Gobi Desert in the United States. Apparently, they were carried here by the wind. Now if the wind can carry sand particles that far, think about what else it can carry. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Scientists are telling us that air pollution created by one country routinely effects the air quality of another. Take for example, pollution resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.

“The consequences are pollution which is no longer local, no longer just regional. But it’s really beginning to acquire global proportions. It’s happening throughout the northern hemisphere.”

Mario Molina is a professor of chemistry at MIT. As an example, he says that polluted air from forest fires in Mexico makes its way to the southern and central parts of the United States. We can no longer look at air quality as a local, or even regional concern. Today it’s global.

“We know that pollution for example from Asia can effect the United States. And pollution from the United States can effect Europe – that’s the way the circulation goes. So if we make predictions for the next few decades, we realize that there’s a possibility that the United States will no longer be completely under control of its own air. The so called clean air standards that are being more and more strict in the United States, they will run into trouble in the next few decades, because of these changes in the chemistry of the lower atmosphere which are happening on a global scale.”

Dr. Molina says that to reduce pollution on a global scale, we need to first begin to do a better job of measuring changes in air quality.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

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Air Pollution: Global Problem

Air pollution is a quintessential globe trotter.
Air Date:07/28/2003
Scientist:
Transcript:


music

ambience: Desert wind

Recently, researchers reported finding sand particles from Asia's Gobi Desert in the United States. Apparently, they were carried here by the wind. Now if the wind can carry sand particles that far, think about what else it can carry. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Scientists are telling us that air pollution created by one country routinely effects the air quality of another. Take for example, pollution resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.

"The consequences are pollution which is no longer local, no longer just regional. But it’s really beginning to acquire global proportions. It’s happening throughout the northern hemisphere."

Mario Molina is a professor of chemistry at MIT. As an example, he says that polluted air from forest fires in Mexico makes its way to the southern and central parts of the United States. We can no longer look at air quality as a local, or even regional concern. Today it's global.

"We know that pollution for example from Asia can effect the United States. And pollution from the United States can effect Europe - that’s the way the circulation goes. So if we make predictions for the next few decades, we realize that there’s a possibility that the United States will no longer be completely under control of its own air. The so called clean air standards that are being more and more strict in the United States, they will run into trouble in the next few decades, because of these changes in the chemistry of the lower atmosphere which are happening on a global scale."

Dr. Molina says that to reduce pollution on a global scale, we need to first begin to do a better job of measuring changes in air quality.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music