Air we breathe

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How art complements science

Alexis Tucker Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Questions of global warming and climate change have hung in the air for decades. Whether or not people accept the legitimacy of the claims from  scientists, there are pressing issues in our communities, not just as a nation either, but as one global community.

Our generation would not know about the pollution problems that plagued Los Angeles in the past. People were getting sick, prompting then Governor of California Ronald Reagan to encourage people to limit car usage.

According to continuous studies conducted by the Environmental Protection
Agency, one-third of Californians live in counties with air pollution that do not meet federal standards, and millions of Americans live in areas with such air pollution as well. Of all the counties, the Los Angeles area was considered the worst.

This was a problem that was at least somewhat recognized since the 1940s. Even today, people say the air in Los Angeles feels heavier and thicker than elsewhere. Of course, Los Angeles isn’t the only city with this problem, and it is nothing compared to Beijing, China.

In Beijing, it is common to see citizens wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from the sickly air they must breathe. Pictures can easily be searched and found to show the intense smog of the city. In some images, buildings are obscured or hidden behind the severe pollution. In Beijing, there is an artist that demonstrates the problem scientists have warned about.

The anonymous artist is a Beijing local who wanted to showcase this problem. This may seem silly, but the artist took a vacuum cleaner and vacuumed the air. Later, he was able to turn the contents of the vacuum into solid bricks, proving what the people of Beijing are breathing into their lungs.

This artist proves something and shows something that words from a scientist’s
mouth couldn’t prove to people. Facts are always relevant and important in solving and understanding problems, but I feel that people may think scientists
are disconnected from regular people. The artist in Beijing conveys a clear message, and an art piece like this is invaluable for that.

It leads to questions and shows the alarming effects people have in the global environment. The air is so thick from the pollution that man generates and people must breathe that into their lungs. It begs another question, what would these people’s lungs look like compared to a smoker’s lungs?

Only time will tell whether people deem this a worthy issue to solve. The sad truth is that alternative energy is already a viable option as many European countries are already beginning to make the switch. Sweden is a major user of renewable energy, as well as Finland. According to the European commission, Sweden and Finland supplement over 30% of their energy consumption with renewables.

However, more than just “some” countries have to make a switch before countries have to make a switch before major progress can be made. Until then, there are people breathing in thick and heavy air without choice all across the world, a problem that has
rapidly intensified since the birth of the Industrial Revolution.