On Monday in Paris, there was a ban in effect to keep vehicles with even-numbered license plates off the roads in an attempt to reduce high levels of harmful air pollution. Public transportation was free as well, so people who weren’t driving could still move about the city.
Last week, air pollution in Paris reached 127 on the air quality index for a few hours, according to Plume Labs, an organization that considers over 100 to be harmful.
The average for Paris is about 38, which is considered well within the range of what is safe, but weather conditions, such as warmth and dryness, are contributing to the surge. Cities in India and China typically are the ones with the highest air pollution levels, but Paris poked into the uppermost level. This peaking effect also happened about the same time last year, and similar actions were taken to bring it back down.
Beijing’s average air quality index is about 111 and New Delhi’s is over 200, according to Plume Labs, so Paris’s average is far less than that.
The current situation in Paris does gives us some indication that even when at safe levels, air pollution levels can rapidly spike. It does appear that the time to gradually switch away from fossil fuels is now, especially because the costs of solar power, wind power, and electric cars have dropped so much in the last several years. Additionally, electric vehicles have been growing and taking a toehold in the marketplace, in various countries around the world.
You might not think air pollution is that significant, especially if you don’t live in a huge city, but the World Health Organization estimated it contributed to the deaths of about 7 million people in 2012.
So, air pollution is not a minor irritant or inconvenience. It can also cross boundaries, meaning it doesn’t simply remain where it originated.
The French government also recently passed a law requiring new commercial buildings to have plants or solar panels on rooftops. Plants can help remove pollutants from urban air.
France is one of the most visited countries in the world, and Paris is the most visited city in France. Tourism brings in tens of billions of euros every year in France, so it will be important to reduce air pollution in Paris to protect tourism revenues.
Image Credit: Eric Pouhler, Wiki Commons
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