Steps Towards an Ecosociety: Dealing with Air Pollution


By: Jonathan Roitman
For: Dr. Rao
Course: Poli 385/2

This essay identifies and explains the problem of pollution facing
humanity today. It will also propose one of the first ideas which could more
effectively limit air pollution, Emission Credit Trading. This can be seen as
one of the first steps in the development of an ecosociety. The notion of a
viable ecosociety has created considerable problems in terms of deciding the
most effective and efficient policies to be implemented. Air pollution has
become one of the most serious environmental problems here at home, and
throughout the rest of the world. Air pollution is also perhaps one of the more
politically sensitive problems because of the numerous economic, environmental
and health implications involved.

A key step in the policy-making process is to define the problem to be
remedied. If we can not understand the problem, how are we to know what needs to
be fixed. Unfortunately, implementing policies on air pollution has the
politically undesirable effect of having extensive economic consequences on all
sectors of the economy. Therefore, those policies which lead to the development
of an ecosociety must be aimed at having the greatest environmental impact while
creating minimal economic distortions.

For the purpose of this essay, pollution shall be identified as follows
"...the deliberate or accidental introduction to the environment of contaminants,
in the form of either wastes or products " (Bryner, 10). This essay will deal
with the problem of air pollution. Air pollutants come from heavy industry,
fumes from automobiles, jet planes and the like. When speaking of the automobile
alone "...each gallon of gas burned releases 22 pounds of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere...the car is the single largest contributor to global warming "
(Rifkin 179). Although the majority of the problem areas are in the developing
world, these areas can affect the entire world. The atmosphere is not confined
to borders like the land. Pollution spreads beyond the borders of any country,
and as such, no one region can solve the problem alone. In some developing
nations, there are areas that people and animals cannot live in for extended
periods of time.

One visitor to the Romanian 'black town' of Cops Mica noted that "the
trees and grass are so stained by soot that they look as if they had been soaked
in ink." A local doctor reported that even horses can stay only for two years in
the town; "then they have to be taken away, or else they will die" (Gore 81).

There are many reasons that pollution has come to the foreground of
twentieth century politics. The most important is the effect it has on human
life. This does not place the effects that it has on our natural environment as
secondary, however, it seems that unless we as human beings are directly
affected, we tend to look the other way.

The EPA's 1990 report on urban air quality trends estimates that over
100 million Americans live in areas where pollution exceeds federal air quality
standards, as well air pollution is responsible for more then 50,000 to 60,000
premature deaths each year (Bryner, 3)

Air pollution is also the main cause of global warming and the
depletion of the ozone layer. If the earth's temperature rises by a mere five
degrees, the resulting catastrophe would be immeasurable. It is important to
realize that global warming is a direct result of the depletion of ozone in the
atmosphere.

"A greater variety of greenhouse gases are created by a myriad of
essential human activities, including the generation of power, industrial
production, transportation, agriculture and forestry. Mitigating climate change
will require major changes in life-style, especially those that consume large
amounts of fossil fuels" (Vig and Kraft 313).

We can see that no matter where we look, air pollution has come to
occupy a major part in our daily lives. The only way to reduce the quantity of
poisonous emissions to the air would require a drastic change in the way we live.


Due to inefficient regulatory policies, the different types of air
pollution pose severe problems. Air pollution occurs when "gases and
particles are combined or altered in such a way that they degrade the air and
form substances that are harmful to humans, animals, and other living things
(Bryner, 41)." Some air pollution is a result of natural processes such as
forest fires, volcanoes or wind blown dust. Conversely, the majority of
pollutants are the direct result of human interaction and misuse of our
environment.