WE NEED air, but not just for breathing. Air shields our planet from most of the sun’s harmful radiation. Without air, temperatures around the world would plunge to below freezing.
The Threats to Our Air
Air pollution poses a deadly threat to life on earth. Only one percent of earth’s population is breathing air that meets the World Health Organization’s standards of safety.
Air pollution has been linked to respiratory illness, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Air pollution is responsible for some 7,000,000 premature deaths each year.
Our Planet—Designed to Survive
Our planet has the natural ability to maintain a constant supply of healthy air for all breathing life-forms. These natural processes are most effective when man-made pollution is sustainable. Consider just a few examples.
The ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the air is well-known. But less well-known is the fact that coastal wetlands thriving with mangroves can do an even better job. Mangroves play a significant role in removing from our air as much as five times more carbon dioxide than tropical forests can.
Recent studies show that some large algae such as kelp not only capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but also bury it. Leaflike kelp blades have gas-filled bladders that allow them to float great distances. Far away from shore, the bladders burst, and the carbon-laden kelp sinks to the ocean floor. There it evidently stays safely buried for many centuries.
Our atmosphere’s ability to recover from harmful levels of pollution was demonstrated during the COVID-19 lockdown. In 2020, when the world’s factories and motor vehicles almost completely stopped spewing pollutants, air quality quickly improved. According to the “2020 World Air Quality Report,” more than 80 percent of participating countries reported having cleaner air shortly after the lockdown was implemented.
What Is Being Done
Governments continue to press industries to reduce air pollution. Also, scientists keep discovering new ways to reverse the effects of pollution. For example, one process uses microbes to turn pollutants into nontoxic substances. Also, experts advise people to walk or cycle instead of driving and to make their homes more energy efficient.
But more is needed, as is evident in a 2022 report compiled by international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank.
The report states that in 2020, about one third of the global population relied mainly on air-polluting cooking fuels and technologies. In many areas, few people can afford new stoves or have access to alternative fuels.
Reasons for Hope—What the Bible Says
“This is what the true God, Jehovah, says, the Creator of the heavens and . . . the One who spread out the earth and its produce, the One who gives breath to the people on it.”—Isaiah 42:5.
God created the air we breathe and the natural cycles that cleanse the air, and he has both infinite power and love for mankind. Therefore, does it seem reasonable that he would do nothing about the pollution of our air? See the article “God Promises That Our Planet Will Survive.”