Is Pollution a Social Issue or an Environmental One?
Almost every day we read news about high pollution levels in countries all around the world. Whether that’s studies that claim around 40 million citizens are living in towns and cities where the levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are above legal limits set by the EU, or doctors campaigning to highlight how children are facing “irreversible lung damage” from diesel fumes and that cars and lorries using the fuel should be taken off Britain’s streets as soon as possible.
But it’s important to remember that pollution is a social issue because it is caused by human behaviours and because it not only has a negative effect on the planet but also on people and society. This being the case, is pollution an environmental issue or a social one? Is it too much to say that the lines are blurred between what is environmental and social as the two are intrinsically lined now?
Nature regularly faces issues but to the natural world they aren’t truly “problematic” per se. A wildfire might help to grow the grass that grows later. A tornado or a flood could serve as a platform for other plants and species to thrive. Nature responds to this. But pollution is something entirely different. Pollution poisons the air and water we all depend on. Pollution is destructive whereas natural occurring “disasters” have the potential to be transformative.
Our over-consumption of fuel and energy has been so prolonged and so rapid now that the earth has failed to respond and adapt accordingly so affecting the regenerating potential of the natural world to decrease. These are not “environmental” problems, no. “The environment” has no “problems”. It has defined cycles and patterns, birth and death, the cycle of life. And if that cycle doesn’t turn, there are problems.
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