Christian Daley: Masks and climate

Published: 10/12/2021 3:48:56 PM
Mr. Blue Sky

Over the past year and a half, the world has gotten intimately familiar with wearing face masks. They have become a cornerstone of our lifestyles.

Now, when we leave the house we check for our keys, our phone, our wallet/purse and, most importantly, our face mask. They are cornerstones of our existence, a constant reminder of the global pandemic that seems to roll on and on.

But for residents of the Anyan Henan Province in China, face masks have been a part of daily life for years. The very air they breathe could kill them. Smog made up of sulfates, nitrates and unused carbon from power plants suffocates the province under an interminable blanket, painting the sky in an ever-present grey.

As of 2020 rankings, Anyan Henans air pollution reigns supreme over all others, even in a country that is famous for its poor air quality in urban centers. The people who live here have grown accustomed to this dreary way of life. Looking at places like this while living in a country in which a breath of fresh air is taken for granted, it puts into perspective how lucky we are to have that luxury of breathable air and clear skies.

But our way of life here in the U.S. cannot be taken for granted. Our air quality is getting worse, and a big reason why is due to our dependence on fossil fuels for power, transportation, and heating. If an effort to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is not made, the mask mandate that we all hate could become a permanent one.

Christian Daley

Amherst




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