Ground level ozone — especially a lot of it — is very bad for human health.
It’s created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC.
Breathing ozone can trigger serious health problems, including chest pain, coughing, and throat irritation. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground-level ozone, caused by humans pumping NOx and VOC can also reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
We could eliminate ozone — and thereby HUGELY boost human health — by running the world, including ALL of our vehicles, on renewable energy generated electricity. We could do this quite quickly, actually, as Stanford Economist Mark Jacobson has clearly shown in his work on running the world on 100 percent renewable energy.
Of course, this would mean A LOT more people actually paying attention to, and learning to care about, clean air. It seems crazy that we need to teach people to learn to care about clean air — which should be a human right! — but we do!
Dirty energy forms such as burning coal and oil have become so woven into the fabric of our capitalist consumerist society that most people don’t seem to care about clean air, their lungs, their health, etc. and instead appear to care more about money and profit — BTW, when you add in the cost of the health and environmental damages caused by the burning of fossil fuels, fossil fuels are NOT cheap!
What could you do, right now, to reduce ozone?
Well, you could drive less and carpool, which is what the Colorado Department of Transportation advocates on its interstate highway electronic flash boards, although, realistically, I have to think very few people are actually going to do what CDOT recommends, at least not on a single day basis.
You could also make sure your next car is electric AND that you run that car on electricity generated by renewable energy forms such as solar and wind.
The electric grid is getting cleaner and cleaner, here in the United States, and around the world. In fact, hundreds of cities — Berkeley, Denver, Burlington, etc. — states (Hawaii), and even some countries (Costa Rica, The Netherlands) have pledged to go 100 percent renewable in the next 10 to 20 years.
A 100 percent renewable energy electric grid + 100 percent renewables would = no ozone. It would ALSO = virtually no carbon dioxide, no sulfur dioxide, no carbon monoxide, and no cancer-causing particulates being blasted into everyone’s lungs by the billions of gasoline vehicles now roaring around.
Imagine that — CLEAN air: We could, and should, have it again!
Combine solar/renewable energy + electric vehicles, and you, and we, could have clean air to breathe in, and out, in and out, in and out…clean air!