At Air Alliance Houston, we recognize the vital importance of addressing the factors driving climate change and that reducing air pollution can mitigate the impacts.
We must address climate change to fight air pollution, and vice versa. Air pollution is a major driver of global warming and, without urgent climate action, our air quality will further deteriorate, with significant health implications.
Here are some of the ways climate change worsens air pollution:
Warmer weather will increase smog, because ground-level ozone forms faster at higher temperatures. Ground-level ozone can trigger asthma attacks and decrease lung function. It is a particular problem in Houston, which has never met national ozone standards. As the climate gets warmer, achieving progress toward clean air will become even more difficult.
More Coastal Storms and Flooding
Each time a storm hits, shutdowns and start-ups of chemical facilities, along with industrial accidents, lead to dramatic increases in air pollution. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, more than 8 million pounds of pollutants were released into the air – more than 6 months’ worth of air pollution in just a few weeks.
The smoke and soot created by more frequent wildfires in the West and South cause a great amount of air pollution.
More Dust Storms
Rising temperature causes dust storms in places like Mexico, contributing to Particulate Matter (PM) pollution, which lingers in the air for a long time, can travel long distances, and is associated with adverse impacts on health.
Climate Change and Environmental Justice
While global warming knows no boundaries, communities of color, low-wealth neighborhoods, and indigenous populations will be disproportionately affected by compromised health conditions, exacerbating existing financial burdens and the disruption of the social and cultural fabric of communities.
In addition, there is an inherent unfairness: those most vulnerable and with the fewest resources to adapt to or recover from the impacts of climate change are the least responsible for the emissions causing it – both in the US and globally.
We encourage everyone to become familiar with climate change and to take whatever steps they can to mitigate its causes. Explore these further resources to learn more.