The Big Thaw, Part Two

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Climate change. Global warming. Something is definitely afoot, and something underfoot has given me inspiration and a clue about how to reduce the impact of global warming.

Anyone who lives in Canada, or any part of the world that has snow, knows that dirty snow melts first. The snow in the ditch that gets sand or dust on it melts faster than white, untouched snow on lawns or in the bush, because the darker colour causes the sun’s radiation to be absorbed instead of reflected. This got me to thinking about climate change and glaciers melting. I realized three things:

  • There is a huge increase in air pollution in the last 150 years.
  • We now know that air pollution is quickly distributed throughout the whole planet. (African dust has been found in Texas. Radiation from Japan has been detected all over.)
  • Global air pollution settles everywhere and causes the dirty snow (glaciers, ice caps, etc) to melt quicker.

It’s not rocket science. We need to improve our air quality! It would improve our health as well as our planet’s health. Now, with more and more vehicles on the road and no end in sight for other industrial endeavours, it seems like a hopeless battle.

So, here’s a crazy idea: why not put our considerable engineering prowess to work on some really big outdoor air purifiers? It would seem logical that the big polluters would take the lead on this, and if we can make huge factories, smelters, and oil refineries, why can’t we make some large-scale industrial air purifiers to work on removing particles from the air?

Well, a short Google search reveals that a little work has already been done on this. Check out this page and these photos of green walls and projects in Mexico City.

If you know of any really big outdoor air purifiers being designed or built, please post about it in the comments!

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