After New Delhi recorded a 40-fold excess of the limit on air pollution, the city began to be compared to a gas chamber. At the same time The New Yorker published an article about a private school for children from wealthy Indian families and expat children. A distinctive feature of this educational institution is industrial filters for air purification. They are so powerful that they provide higher indoor air quality than the entire city.
Do you think this is a one-time case? Not at all. The media are warning that the planet’s ecology is dying. World Health Organization (WHO) makes calculations and writes programs to save humanity from itself. But let’s allow ourselves a pun: things are still right where they started.
Yes, the pollution occurs not only through human fault, but also through natural causes. However, the main sources of pollution are still factories, blast furnaces, livestock farms, etc.; as well as railway, automobile, air, river, sea, pipeline transport. Let’s figure out what kinds and types of contaminants are, how they progress, and if there’s anything we can do about it.
The effect that leads to global warming on the Earth. It is caused by the emission of carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane, «chlorofluorocarbons and other so-called «greenhouse gases». Due to the fact that they are accumulated in the atmosphere, the average temperature on the Earth may rise by 1.5-4.5 degrees. And this, in its turn, will lead to a number of negative consequences: the sea level will rise by about 65 cm in the next 100 years, which will inundate vast island and coastal areas. There will also be shifted, boundaries of natural-climatic zones from equator to poles. It will entail the relocation of people and economic objects.
Earth ozone depletion
The depletion of the ozone layer leads to increase in cancer and kills phytoplankton. And this is the main element of the food chain in the world’s oceans. It is believed that the destruction of the ozone layer is affected by increased production and the release of chlorofluorocarbons and other substances used in the manufacture of refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosols, etc.
Atmospheric air pollution
As we have already said, the concentration of substances harmful to human health, in large cities is tens of times higher than all allowable standards. Acid rainfall, caused by the combination of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions with atmospheric moisture, damages forests, lakes and soil. And here, stationary sources of pollution, such as factories, farms and production are at fault. However, mobile sources, namely transport, are increasingly contributing to air pollution.
Road transport is considered to be one of the most dangerous, as in the US, Germany and France it is responsible for 60% of the total amount of air pollution. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, lead and its compounds, which have carcinogenic properties are emitted into the air with exhaust gases. It is estimated that one car emits 600-800 kg of 96 carbon monoxide, about 200 kg of unburned hydrocarbons and about 40 kg of nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere each year.
Policy to reduce air pollution
In fact, it’s difficult to track the environmental status of mobile pollution sources. Theoretically, this problem could be solved by installing loggers on every car, bus, truck, etc. This would make it possible to demand compensation for environmental and economic damage from each individual or firm. However, this is not technically possible today, which is why in the world so far, there is kept track of the quantity and quality of the factors of production that cause emissions; there are applied environmental standards for fuel for vehicles; there are established taxes per unit of emission source.
Crossing national borders of countries with different environmental standards is though a problem. Therefore, the governments of the countries concerned are actively considering the possibility of unifying national environmental requirements.
Another way to reduce air pollution is limiting the entry of trucks into the city and introducing paid parking areas in the centre, as it was done in Moscow, or upgrading bus fleets, like in Murmansk.
WHO sees the following possible solutions in this situation:
- Switching to clean energy production methods;
- Paying attention to high-speed urban transport, pedestrian and cycling networks in cities, as well as intercity rail freight and passenger transportation;
- Using cleaner heavy duty diesel and low-emission vehicles, as well as cleaner fuels, including fuel with reduced sulphur concentration.
This is especially true given that in Russian cities where there are no large industrial enterprises, the main causes of air pollution are considered to be motor vehicle emissions.
The situation is different in cities with industrial enterprises in or near the outskirts of the city.
But the constantly growing number of cars in major Russian cities is not the only problem. More than 30% of cars and 65% of trucks do not meet even the oldest environmental standard Euro-2 of 1995, which regulates the content of harmful substances in exhaust gases.
According to Rosneft Vice President, in refining though, Russia has caught up with and surpassed Europe in terms of fuel quality. According to internal standards, fuel is divided into classes K2-K5, which fully comply with international regulations. And since 1 June, 2017, sales of fuel below K5 class are prohibited in the country.
The level of emissions depends on things like brakes, tires, and roads themselves, which should not be forgotten about. Their wear and tear and untimely replacement lead to the appearance of small particles, which then fly in the air.
Decrease in the number of roads
Today, the territory, equal in area to five UKs, is «rolled» in asphalt and «buried» under sleepers. Therefore, some countries are considering reducing the number of roads.
For example, in Seoul, there was a four-lane highway with 170,000 cars driving a day, but then it turned into one big traffic jam. Instead of widening the road, the city administration decided to get rid of it altogether. That could lead to chaos. And yet, the traffic load in the city centre has decreased. Many residents of the capital of South Korea have started using the subway and over time became accustomed to that mode of transport.
Instead of the road, the Seoul authorities created a park and restored the Chongchon River, which had been hidden under the asphalt all that time. The place quickly gained popularity among locals and tourists. The advantages of such a solution were also felt by entrepreneurs, festival organizers and cyclists.
The same solution was made in Seattle, New York and Sheffield.
Transportation of goods by rail is justified, which is not the case with trucks. They are often drive on the city streets, being empty, causing considerable environmental damage. In London, for example, almost 40 percent of trucks are loaded less than by quarter.
If we want to get rid of smog, it is as important to solve the issue of freight transport as to create a quality public transport system. Some organizations already practise delivering goods by electric car or bicycle. Some European cities use tramways for this purpose.
SkyWay as a solution
19 people consume about 30 tons of oxygen per year, the same amount is provided by 1 hectare of pine forest during the same period of time. A hectare of deciduous forest provides half the oxygen, and 1 hectare of agricultural land — from 3 to 10 tons of oxygen per year. Therefore, if we turn 100 million hectares of soil into roads, we will lose at least 1.5 billion tons of oxygen per year. That is how much 1 billion people need for breathing.
For complete burning of 1 kg of gasoline, 3.4 kg of oxygen or about 15 kg (12 cubic metres) of air will be required. Substances, contained in fuel combustion products, including car exhaust, can cause progressive lesions of the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, brain, genitals, lethargy, Parkinson’s syndrome, pneumonia, endemic ataxia, gout, bronchial cancer, dermatitis, intoxication, allergies, respiratory and other diseases. The likelihood of disease increases as exposure time and concentration grows, as is the case in modern metropolitan areas.
It is precisely because of this that the transition to the string transport and SkyWay technology is the only way out of this situation. This will save 31.2 billion tons of fuel per year on per 25 million kilometers of high-speed roads. Correspondingly, it won’t take 106 billion tons of oxygen to burn gasoline, and 67 billion people will use this oxygen for breathing. In addition, not burning 31.2 billion tons of fuel annually will save us from releasing more than 100 toxic and carcinogenic substances into the environment.
Annual combustion of additional 31.2 billion tons of fuel together with 106 billion tons of atmospheric oxygen would yield 31.2 + 106 = 137.2 billion tons of additional waste.
Additional hundreds of billions of tons of metal and cubic meters of concrete will not be required for the construction of 25 million km of high-speed overpasses. There will be no need to produce tens of billions of tons of oil and other energy resources. Billions of kilowatts of excess power will not be needed to drive rolling stock. The environment will not be polluted neither by fuel combustion products nor by excessive noise.
Ground embankments of railways (including high-speed railways) and highways cover, i.e. remove at least 4 hectares of soil at each kilometer of roads length. If 25 million kilometers of high-speed intercity and international string tracks are built around the world, this will save about 1 million square kilometers of soil from destruction. With the average cost of the land ($1 ml USD/hectar), taken for the construction, the value of saved soil will be 100 billion USD; and if the cost of the land in $10 ml/hectar) USD in the future (the value of land is constantly rising), the price is 1000 billion 1000 billion USD. This is not to mention the environmental problems that this additional soil taken from the earth’s biosphere would create over such vast areas as described above.
The environmental benefits of implementing SkyWay technologies are enormous. Another environmental advantage of the string technology is resource saving in mass production of the rolling stock.
As it becomes clear, SkyWay can really make a difference in the world’s environmental situation, not only in terms of reducing emissions, but also in terms of saving soil, all with tangible economic benefits.