By Chris Tolworthy
How can we reduce pollution globally? It’s important that we not only ask individuals to change their personal behavior but that we also change the incentives under which they operate. We should tax the use and abuse of natural resources. We should make companies pay taxes in proportion to how much they pollute. This would give them not only a moral reason to pollute less but also a financial one.
One of the major causes of pollution is urban sprawl. Sprawl is caused when central locations are not used efficiently and people are forced to outlying areas as a result. The best way to curb sprawl is to tax the value of land so that owners of central locations will use their land efficiently, making the land available for the otherwise would-be sprawlers. To learn more about taxing the value of land, see our illustrated article Visualizing Earth Sharing.
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Pollution is one of the top ten dangers to life.
Table: Risk factor, deaths in millions, percentage of total:
1: Tobacco use: 1.5; 17.9
2: High blood pressure: 1.4; 16.8
3: Overweight and obesity: 0.7; 8.4
4: Physical inactivity: 0.6; 7.7
5: High blood glucose: 0.6; 7.0
6: High cholesterol: 0.5; 5.8
7: Low fruit and vegetable intake: 0.2; 2.5
8: Urban outdoor air pollution: 0.2; 2.5
9: Alcohol use: 0.1; 1.6
10: Occupational risks: 0.1; 1.1
Word health Organisation, “GLOBAL HEALTH RISKS: Mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks”, page 11: Table 1: Ranking of selected risk factors: 10 leading risk factor causes of death by income group, 2004, for high-income countries. Available at http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/GlobalHealthRisks_report_full.pdf
Pollution can damage your eyes, ears, skin, stomach, etc.
Studies correlate seawater pollution with illnesses in swimmers’ eyes, ears, skin, stomach, etc.
Don’t flush things down the toilet if they don’t belong there. Recycle your batteries and paint. Don’t litter.
Pollution increases the risk of heart attack
Studies correlate air pollution with irritation to your heart, making a heart attack more likely.
Vote for cleaner air.
Find out what candidates say about the environment:
Find out which candidate most closely matches your views:
Pollution makes you tired
Studies correlate air pollution with weakening of the kidneys’ ability to clean the blood, making you feel more tired and nauseous .
Remember that everything you do is connected. When you buy any product it has to be manufactured and transported, and that affects air quality. Why not have a simpler life? Re-use, recycle, spend money on simple things and good causes, not on what kills you.
Pollution can contribute to a fatal stroke
Studies correlate air pollution with thickening of the blood and narrowing vessels, making them more likely to clot, causing a potentially fatal stroke.
Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area. http:// www.epa.gov/airnow/ Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high: try indoor exercises at those times.
Always avoid exercising near high road traffic areas.
Pollution weakens a child’s immune system
Studies correlate air pollution with a weaker baby immune system, making children more likely to develop allergies to food, pets, etc., that are then carried into adulthood.
The biggest cause of air pollution is burning fuel. So the simplest change is to use fuel more efficiently (which also saves money and reduces global warming). Read the Environmental Protection Agency’s easy tips for saving energy at home: http://epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/home.html Use public transport or car pools. Don’t burn wood or trash: these produce dangerous particulates. Switch to natural gas where possible.
Pollution harms the unborn child
Studies correlate air pollution with increased infertility. And if you do get pregnant, pollution may weaken the unborn child, resulting in a lower birth weight, impaired brain function and more behavioural problems.
Get involved. Review your community’s air pollution plans and support state and local efforts to clean up the air. How? Contact your local American Lung Association at http://www.lung.org or 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872). Find out what is happening in your area and how to get involved.
Pollution can give you diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more
Studies correlate nitrates in bacon, drinking water, etc. (from modern farming practices) with harm to the pancreas, increased risk of diabetes mellitus, as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and more.
Care about what you eat and learn where it comes from. If you can’t afford organic, at least remember that how animals are reared will affect you, and may come at a high price.
Pollution can make you fat
Studies correlate poor air quality and tobacco pollution with increased childhood obesity. Dangerous particles from cigarette smoke can remain in the air long after a cigarette has been extinguished.
Don’t allow anyone to smoke indoors, and support measures to make all public places smoke free.
Pollution is poisoning your cells
Studies correlate air pollution with cells being less able to cope with free radicals, causing stress due to generally poorer health .
Exercise! Walk more! Get fit! Studies also show that physical exercise helps your body fight back, compensating for the damage due to air pollution.
Pollution makes it harder to breathe
Studies correlate air pollution with damage to lungs, causing children to breathe less easily, increasing the risk of asthma in all ages, and older people increase their risk of pneumonia .
Find out how to fight it. Keep up to date on the battle for a better world at EarthSharing.org: Sign up for the newsletter, join the community, learn how to make a difference: http://earthsharing.org/what-can-i-do/
Pollution damages your brain
Studies correlate air pollution with damage to brain cells, leading to increased autism in children, unhappiness in all ages, and anxiety and decreased brain function in middle aged and older people.
Use your brain while you can! Understand the bigger economic picture: Why are we so messed up that we would poison our own air? And how can we make a better world? Learn the economics of wealth and poverty:
There is a simple way to stop all pollution, once and for all:
LVT (Land Value Taxation).
Under LVT, work is tax free, so there is more work, more jobs, more money.
Instead of paying tax on work, people pay for the natural resources they use (such as land).
It follows that if we poison natural resources then we pay for that as well.
If we have to pay the full cost of pollution, we soon stop polluting!
For the economic details, see “Applications of Land Value Taxation to Problems of Environmental Protection” by Nicolaus Tideman: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.202.5288