Global warming global pollution

A hundred years ago, the French painter Claude Monet spent time in London and painted wonderful pictures of the light coming through the smog. London was blighted by intense local pollution - from domestic and industrial chimneys around London itself. Thanks to the Clean Air Acts beginning in the 1950s, those awful smogs belong to the past - although London's atmosphere could be still cleaner.

Today, however, it is not just local pollution that is a problem but global pollution. Small amounts of pollution for which each of us are responsible are affecting everyone in the world. The first example to come to light was in the 1970s and early 1980s when it was realised that very small quantities of chlo-rofluorocarbons (CFCs) emitted to the atmosphere from leaking refrigerators, aerosol cans or some industrial processes resulted in significant degradation of the ozone layer. The problem was highlighted by the discovery of the ozone hole in 1985. Beginning in 1987, an international mechanism for tackling and solving this problem was established through the Montreal Protocol through which all nations contributing to it agreed to phase out their emissions of harmful substances. The richer nations involved also agreed to provide finance and technology transfer to assist developing countries to comply. A way forward for addressing global environmental problems was therefore charted.

The second example of global pollution is that of global warming, the subject of this book. Greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas and from other human activities such as widespread deforestation are leading to damaging climate change. This is a very much larger and more challenging problem to tackle than that of ozone depletion; it strikes so much nearer to the core of human resources and activities - such as energy and transport - upon which our quality of life depends. However, we have been at pains to point out, tackle it we must - although, as we have also been keen to explain, we can do so in the realisation that abatement of the use of fossil fuels need not destroy or even diminish our quality of life; it should actually improve it!

Global pollution demands global solutions. These need to address human attitudes broadly, for instance those concerned with resource use, lifestyle, wealth and poverty. They must also involve human society at all levels of aggregation -international organisations, nations with their national and local governments, large and small industry and businesses, non-governmental organisations (e.g churches) and individuals.

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