What Are Our Options?

Air pollution is an issue that most people are already somewhat aware of. This is good news– it is a good starting point. To tackle any issue, one should first and foremost raise awareness among others who are uninformed about the issue at hand. In the case of air pollution, people may not fully realize the extent of the issue or its impending implications simply because the government does not talk about it very often. There are, however, coalitions and organizations that push Congress to act on issues such as pollution. Continuing to do this, as well as encouraging more people to join in, is a good way to start.

Aside from this, there are more specific ways to combat air pollution. Below are some policy proposals, as well as their potential cost and benefits:

Policy A: Increase incentives and tax credits for eco-friendliness.

People respond well to incentives. Similarly to the tax credits granted to people who purchase an electric vehicle, incentives and tax credits could be given more liberally to those who adopt other habits that could help decrease pollution rates. For example, some incentives could be given to households with 1 or less cars.

Cost: Low

Benefits: Some decrease in pollution as it could encourage people to walk or bike rather than drive.

Policy B: Switch all public and government transportation to electric vehicles.

Most public and government transportation runs 365 days a year. There are many vehicles assigned to each county (police cars, fire trucks, buses, etc.). If a policy ordered all public and government transportation to switch to electric vehicles, air pollution in the nation would decrease significantly. However, this policy would initiate a change that would likely take years before reaching full effect.

Cost: High

Benefits: Significant decrease in pollution, possible decrease in gas prices as a result of lower demand, saves the government money in the long-run (charging an EV is much cheaper than filling up a gas tank).

Policy C: Grant empolyees the ability to work remotely whenever possible, and incentify companies to become fully remote.

Companies allowing their employees to work remotely is a low-cost, high-reward option. The fact that millions of people in the country drive to their jobs to sit at a desk and do work they could have done at home costs money and contributes to pollutions on many levels. By switching to remote work, there would be a significant reduction in air pollution as a result of decreased cars on the road, as well as significantly less office buildings that would otherwise need year-round, non-efficient air conditioning and electricity.

Cost: Low

Benefits: Significant decrease in pollution, companies would save a lot of money, employees would have the freedom to work from anywhere, meaning they could move away from crowded cities and into different cities, which could ultimately improve the economy and housing market.

Policy D: Ban non-energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances.

With the amount of energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances on the market, knowingly using ones that are not as eco-friendly or long lasting is an outdated concept. Non-energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances may be a bit cheaper out front, but the price difference is not big enough to justify keeping them around.

Cost: Medium

Benefits: Reduces air pollution, reduces waste since they are longer lasting, saves money since they are energy efficient (they do not use as much energy as their predecessor).

References:

What Can I Do to Help Reduce Air Pollution? (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/air/tsb/ams/aqmdp/share.htm

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