By Connie Lewis
While one side of the political spectrum believes that climate change is the result of human behavior and the other side says it’s a normal course of events, few argue that air and water pollution aren’t bad for human health. It’s measurable and growing. We can see and smell and even taste it.
Let’s take air pollution first. Ongoing research by Rutgers University, as reported by thinkprogress.org, examined how allergenic plants react to changing weather patterns and increases in temperature and carbon dioxide.
"Climate changes will increase pollen production considerably in the near future in different parts of the country," allergist Leonard Bielory, M.D. said during a presentation of the university’s findings at an annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology a few years ago. "Economic growth, global environment sustainability, temperature and human-induced changes, such as increased levels of carbon dioxide, are all responsible for the influx that will continue to be seen."
As CO2 increases, it tells allergenic plants to produce more pollen. The university’s researchers predict that pollen counts could reach 21,735 particles per cubic meter by 2040, a big leap from an average of 8,455 in 2000.
The topic hits home. According to the Equinox Project by the Center for Sustainable Energy, unhealthy air days, and unhealthy air days for those susceptible to allergens increased from 41 in 2015 to 42 in 2016 in San Diego County.
“Air quality received a thumbs-down because the combined number of unhealthy air days and unhealthy air days for sensitive groups increased,” the CSE stated. But “asthma hospitalization rates for children, an indicator of poor air quality, varied throughout the county, with the highest rates in Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and surrounding areas.”
Traffic plays a role. San Diegans spend a lot of time on the highways commuting to and from work. But residents of Barrio Logan also endure an excess of diesel exhaust, which contains carbon monoxide, from 18-wheelers that operate at the Port of San Diego’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
Inewsource.org cited a 2014 report by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment stating that asthma-related hospital visits in the 92113 zip code, which includes Barrio Logan, fell within the highest 10th percentile in the state.
National Geographic, the publication famous for pictures of beautiful landscapes, holds no punches. In an article published in the fall of 2016, it said, “The oceans, which have borne the brunt of most of global warming, have finally hit their limit as dying corals and plummeting fish stocks signal that the seas are at a dangerous tipping point.”
Greg Stone, a marine expert and executive vice president at Conservation International, a nonprofit organization, who was quoted in the National Geographic piece, said the oceans need to be treated like a sick patient with a fever.
Lowering the patient’s temperature requires stopping polluting the atmosphere with carbon, he stressed.
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