Resource published Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 08:20AM UTC edited Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 08:20AM UTC
Air Quality: What Happened to Our Air? Edit Title
We all remember as children how cleaner the air was then. You could walk unpaved roads and still not experience so much dust as there were only so many vehicles plying the roads – perhaps, a car or two, a horse-drawn carriage and a few bikes were all you would encounter on your way to school over less than a kilometer distance from home to school. Well, this was how it was for many of us who lived in a small town back in our youth.
No, no such thing as air pollution then. Nor were we so concerned about the occasional wood fires we built in the backyard to get rid of the dry leaves and broken branches. In fact, even in the small cities then, air quality was generally more conducive to raising a family.
Today, our towns and cities, especially some parts in Singapore have been encroached upon by too much pollution as a result of more people moving into the cities. The main culprit, of course, is the combustion engine running almost all vehicles that fill up the roads – motorbikes, cars, trucks and buses. This is not to mention the proliferation of factories that run coal-fired power plants. The crowding in of the population over a wide area within our cities has likewise overburdened the air to a point where the percentage of clean air has drastically decreased below normal health standards.
This is essentially what happened to the air we breathe. It is quite obvious, isn’t it? But not really. We often forget one important factor that made the air what it is now. We brought about the degradation in our desire to improve life. That is, in our passion for making life convenient or modern or efficient, we have sacrificed the really basic things that matter in life, including the air. And not to mention the waterways, the food, the entertainment and even delivery of basic services.
In short, the air we breathe now is polluted because we forgot to consider that small things that affected our environment: the small puffs of fumes from a car’s exhaust pipe, the little amount of toxic gases we produce to manufacture toys, textiles or other consumers goods and the small contribution each one of us gives to the total amount of pollutants we throw into the air all add up to the cumulative effect of pollution in our cities.
What we have is something irreversible, to a certain extent. What little we can do to reverse the process can only mean something if we all, not a few but the whole population, turned back to the former ways of doing things – not adding pollution but maintaining a clean atmosphere and we hear no complaints about air or noise pollution.
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