289127 The Globalization of Air Pollution: Implications for the Quality of the Air We Breathe, the Water We Drink, and the Food We Eat

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 12:30 PM
406 (Convention Center )
Greg Carmichael, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Department/ Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

The quality of the air we breathe is impacted by both local as well as distant sources. The awareness of this fact is recent. We have appreciated for a long time that local pollution sources impact our air quality. With the emergence of the acid rain problem we came to appreciate that pollution does not obey national boarders, and that regional perspectives are needed to reduce the threats of air pollution. Only today are we beginning to recognize that the air we breathe is being impacted in important ways by what is being emitted in Asia and in Europe -- and that we impact their air quality.  We are also learning that air pollutants have a significant impact on the climate system. The particulate components of air pollution alter radiative forcing, dim the radiation reaching the surface and increase the solar heating of the atmosphere. Particulate pollution may mask as much as ~45% of the warming by greenhouse gases. These perturbations have given rise to major areas of concern, some of the most critical being the observed decrease in the Indian summer monsoon rainfall, the north-south shift in eastern China rainfall patterns, the accelerated retreat of glaciers and decrease in snow packs. These changes have important negative effects on water resources and crop yields, which are not yet fully understood.

Awareness of this globalization of pollution is important, as it suggests that efforts to reduce pollution levels at home are connected to what is happening to pollution levels throughout the hemisphere. With this perspective in mind, we look to the future and discuss the implications for pollution emissions, and the opportunities for win-win strategies built upon addressing air quality and climate change together.

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See more of this Session: Lawrence K. Cecil Award Lecture
See more of this Group/Topical: Environmental Division