In developed countries like the United States and Canada, strict environmental regulations have caused a significant reduction in the pollution produced by the burning of fossil fuels and the use of industrial chemicals. In the developing world, the problem of pollution needs to be addressed. The World Economic Forum names rising pollution in the developing world as its sixth most concerning issue, behind income inequality and jobless growth.
Lax environmental regulations mean that energy is produced without regard for conservation and that chemical pollutants damage the environment. Jacob Gitman, an entrepreneur, and scientist, explains how third-world pollution makes a severe impact on our planet.
Effects of Pollution
Pollution has significant public-health impacts in the developing world. Air pollution, in particular, is one of the leading causes of death in these countries. In 2012, it was responsible for a staggering 8.4 million deaths among these populations. It puts the problem in perspective. In comparison, only 8,000 people died that year as a result of the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa.
Pollution causes a wide variety of health problems like lung cancer, asthma, mercury poisoning, and lead poisoning. The young are the most vulnerable to the damage caused by polluted air and water. Children who regularly breathe polluted air are more likely to develop asthma, which could lead to severe illness or death. Other types of pollution, like petroleum byproducts, lead, and arsenic is likely to cause cancer and other grave diseases.
Countries Producing Most Pollution
In terms of releasing the most pollution into the environment, Asia must be considered one of the worst culprits. China is particularly problematic thanks to its rapid industrialization and lack of environmental regulations. China’s engineers are beginning to find solutions to their environmental problems, but the overwhelming volume of pollution has continued.
Companies from developed nations need to share their expertise in preventing pollution. The governments of China and other polluting countries need to be warned about their activities. Once a high-carbon method of getting energy, like coal or oil, has been put into place, it is difficult to go back.
When considering how many third-world countries produce excessive amounts of pollution, people from the developed world should not sit idly by and assume that there is nothing they can do to help the environment. Fully two-thirds of the pollution released in the world comes from developed countries like the United States and Canada. We share the blame and should not only give credit to developing nations.
Leading the Way in Reducing Pollution
The developed world has a responsibility to help third-world countries overcome their pollution problems. Thanks to technologies which make industrial production far less damaging to the environment, developed countries have considerably reduced the amount of pollution they produce. Pollution remains a problem in the United States and Canada, but it is far less severe than in the developing world.
Methods of Reducing Pollution
To reduce pollution at the source, replacing fossil fuels with more sustainable forms of energy like solar, wind, and geothermal can help a great deal. Many countries are beginning to catch on to the benefits of using renewable energy. Large solar arrays are being built in China along with wind farms.
Cleaner technologies to burn fossil fuels can also be put into place. As the efficiency of these factories is increased, new technology can remove the pollutants from the air before they escape. These technologies are already used in the developed world.
To further reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, developing countries need to be encouraged to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Recycling programs have not spread in the developing world. Even more compelling than recycling is the movement toward reducing plastic waste at the source. When people are encouraged to use sustainable and recyclable materials like glass and paper instead of plastic, the world will be less polluted.
People who reside in the developed world may believe that pollution from third-world countries is not their problem. These people must understand that our pollution problem, like our economy, is global. Pollution from contaminated air and water can travel around the world. Food and other consumer products from these developing countries could arrive at your dinner table.
As the developing world continues on its process of industrialization, it is more important than ever that pollution is remedied for the health of our planet. Working to enhance environmental regulations around the world can help to reduce the amount of pollution in all countries.
Jacob Gitman emphasizes the importance of reducing air, water, and soil pollution. When experts from countries like the United States and Canada work with industries in the developing world, they will be able to show the way toward cleaner activities.