Air pollution

3 min read
31 Mar

Yesterday we learned about Earth Hour. We learned that even a small action, such as turning our lights off, for one hour can make a big difference if many of us do it at the same time.

Now, for the answers to yesterday’s quiz! These are the the cities which switched off their lights on Saturday. 

1. Sydney, Australia [photos: Evening Standard]    

2.   Moscow, Russia 

3. Tokyo, Japan 4. Hong Kong

5. Kulua Lumpur, Malaysia

6. London, United Kingdom

How many of the cities did you recognise with their lights switched off for Earth Hour on Saturday?

Our cities are very well lit. You can see the lights of our houses, the offices, the famous buildings, the roads and the cars moving on them. The lights are so bright, you can see them even from space

From the ground, this can make it difficult to see the night sky as totally dark. So it is harder to see the stars in cities. This is what we call light pollution.

Another type of pollution in the sky that we can’t see is air pollution.

Air pollution comes from gasses such as particulate matter, ground level ozone, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons. They come from places, such as power stations burning coal to make electricity, factories’ chimneys, heating our buildings and burning petrol  to run cars and fly planes. All of these make the air quality bad.

If these gases combine with clouds and fog, this creates “smog”. You can see this as thick, grey clouds.

You can’t see or smell air pollution, but you can feel the effect of it if the air pollution is especially bad. It can irritate your throat and make you cough, develop asthma and other problems with breathing. In really bad cases, this can cause heart attacks, strokes and death. 

Because of the coronavirus outbreak at the moment, many of our cities are locked down and our daily activities have to stop for now, so that fewer people are spreading the virus, so that fewer people will catch it. So that includes factories shutting down, offices and schools like yours closing their doors. Where possible, we are to stay at home to study and work, and not to travel for trips and holidays. Now there are fewer cars on the streets and fewer planes flying to different places.

This big change in all our lives also means a big change in our environment. We are producing less air pollution and this can be seen even from space! 

Here you can see maps showing lower nitrogen dioxide levels over some of the places most affected by the coronavirus outbreak. So although this wasn’t planned to clean up our environment, the lock down has resulted in our air quality getting better.

So the next time you’re outside, take a deep breath. Can you feel the difference?

Your activity for the day Is to imagine what it would be like to live in a city with good air quality. Can you make cleaner power stations and factories, and cars and planes that don’t cause more pollution? 

What do you think a clean way of making electricity, making our products and helping us to move around the city and the world might look like? 

Be creative and imaginative! Draw them or write them down.

Tomorrow, I will tell you a story about how countries working hard together, have succeeded in overcoming a big environmental problem.

I’ll see you then!

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