Saturday, February 2, 2019

Solving the Fine Dust Problem

Each New Year we make several resolutions to change our life for the better. One of the most important decisions is health:quit smoking, promise to exercise and keep a regular life. However, this is not possible with one's own efforts. We can't avoid all the foods with contaminants and fine dust in the atmosphere. We need to make efforts to enjoy the benefits of nature and restore health to body and mind.

So begins an article in the Catholic Peace Weekly by a member of the Bishops' Committee on ecology. Fine dust problems in Korea are a constant news item. Most of the reports blame others for the problems without any conclusive proof. China has begun winter heating and both the spring and winter are the bad seasons for the dust because of the westerly winds blowing in from China.

The concentration of fine dust in spring and winter are the worst seasons not only in Korea but also in almost all other countries. In the summer, high temperature, the rising air current, the amount of rainfall makes the degree of pollution low. In the autumn air circulation is good and the occurrence of typhoons and the like lowers the rate of pollution.

In summer and autumn, however, the concentration of fine dust in Korea is quite high. Fine dust pollution in Korea is not a problem only for a certain season but is seen continuously throughout the year. Therefore, it's not all China's fault. Fundamental measures and changes need to be applied in everyday situations.

The reason we are afraid of fine dust is that when we breathe the fine dust enters our lungs. But the fine dust coming into my lungs is mainly from the air around me. So the distance to my house, my office, the air quality of my car, where I walk, the neighborhood in which I live are all important, after that we can worry about the Shandong Peninsula and Beijing.

Ultimately, it is necessary to fundamentally reduce the amount of fine dust generated in all fields: in the generation of electricity, industry, transportation, in the home, and we begin solving the fine dust problem.  Both public and industrial cooperation need to be actively pursued, but there must be a recognition that it begins with me. A long-term misunderstanding needs to be overcome with education and campaigns.

If I buy and throw away a lot, use a variety of household appliances and enjoy conveniences, more energy is needed to produce what I use—more fine dust. When you wait for someone using a car, fine dust will be generated even while idling.

Not only the health of future generations but also fine dust threatens my health right now.  Now, let's start to reduce the underlying incidences where we are rather than looking for the causes distant from us. It's a manifestation of our genuine free will when we begin to live with some inconvenience in order to begin solving the fine dust problems in Korea.