Global warming could become a major concern in the U.S.

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 8, 2002

Global warming and other environmental issues continue to be a concern for many people in

our society.

The American Lung Association (ALA) recently reported that 1.9 million people in Alabama are exposed to dangerous levels of summertime ozone, which are killing an increasing number of persons in the state every year.

According to a recent story published by The Birmingham News about the ALA's findings, almost 60 percent of the counties in the entire nation received failing grades for air quality.

According to a recent release by the Alabama Policy Institute, however, conditions are not as dismal as they have been portrayed.

The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that Alabama's aggregate air pollution levels have been decreasing from 1989 to 2001.

Over the last 10 years alone, major cities including Birmingham reported decreases in the number of days reaching unhealthy thresholds on the EPA's Air Quality Index.

Birmingham, in fact, improved from its highest number of 32 unhealthful days in 1995 to just four in 2001.

The issue of global warming still continues to be a key one according to many scientific sources.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists web site, as the Earth continues to warm, there is a growing risk that the climate will change in ways that will seriously disrupt our lives, and while on average the globe will get warmer and receive more precipitation, individual regions will experience different climatic changes and environmental impacts.

Among the most severe consequences listed for global warming include:

A faster rise in the sea level

More heat waves and droughts, resulting in more conflicts for water resources.

More extreme weather events, producing floods and property destruction.

A greater potential for heat-related illnesses and deaths, as well as a wider spread of infectious diseases carried by insects and rodents.

The web site also states that if climatic trends continue unabated, global warming will threaten our health, our cities, our farms and forests, beaches and wetlands and other natural habitats.

While governments attempt to reduce the impacts of global warming, some corporations are viewing it as a business opportunity. Automobile corporations such as Toyota and Honda are producing hybrid cars that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Environmental News Network web site states that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the largest source of greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. The average American is responsible for about 20 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Suggestions on how to cut carbon dioxide emissions include switching to fuel-efficient vehicles, installing energy-efficient lighting and purchasing newer, more-efficient appliances.