Pollution: my first impression. "Is this America?"
Pollution is a terrible legacy
I wrote this poem, "Is this America?", on my first visit to the USA in 1988. I was surprised by the amount of smog and pollution! As a country girl from North Queensland in Australia, my reaction was heightened. Standing on the balcony of my sister's apartment, I watched the traffic increase as it traveled across Virginia towards Washington DC. This scene inspired me to pen this short poem influenced by the Romantic era.
I was unaware when I was eighteen, that the image I captured with a few words on a torn sheet of paper was a terrible legacy. Pollution, especially that attributed to carbon has a corrupting influence on countries. Hidden from most of us until the very end of the twentieth century, it spread from one industrialised country to the next. Travelling to the USA and seeing thick smog for the first time in my life, made me more aware of my own country's disease.
Pollution in any form is a virus. It is a poison that we happily replicate, often without wanting to know the consequences. Left to fester, pollution has devastating consequences on our environment and on us. The terrible tragedy about pollution is leaving it for the next generation to figure out. Complacency is not an excuse, no matter how easier it makes our lives in the short term.
Is this America?
19 Floors Up
I, lazily leaning over a fenced balcony
Saw the early morning Sun
Like a foreign obstacle
Illuminate the horizon
Of cement discolored cases.
Grey, gloating and slowing growing
Like a blood sucking leech
A careless cloud consumes in quantities
Of alarming size,
A poisonous, painful
Carbon monoxide pollution.
19 Floors up.
I, recklessly running into the apartment
Stop before a glowing glass cabinet.
As I resume my post outside
The Sun, now a hazy hidden solar energy
Dimly lights the gas mask on my face.
© Tinsky 1988
Penned on a family holiday in America.
About Air Pollution
Contaminates such as harmful gases, dusts, odors and fumes enter the atmosphere to pollute the air and cause damage to our environment. Air pollutants not only cause illness in humans but also in animals and plant life and can lead to the destruction of entire ecosystems.
Air pollutants are created mostly by humans but may also be a by-product of natural causes such as volcanoes. Some of the biggest causes of air pollutants are manufacturing and use of heavy machinery including vehicles.
Not only is our fragile Earth not coping with the urbanization and industrialization of our societies, the human race severely affected with increases in air pollutant related diseases. In 1952, in just a few days in London an estimated 4000 people died from fine particle pollution.
More recently similar events have been witnessed in major cities in China. China's strong economic and industrial growth is a major factor in pollution. In the capital Beijing, face masks are almost a fashion accessory, as China leads the world, as the largest producer of CO2 emissions. In early 2013, fine particles (PM2.5) were at alarming high levels with one third of China covered in smog.
Climate change should be our biggest global concern of the twenty-first century. Despite the severe melting of ice caps and changes to weather patterns worldwide, many people still remain complacent.
Is this the first impression of the world that you want to leave for the next generation?
National Geographic - Facing Climate Change
Pollution has consquences
© 2010 Tina Dubinsky