Good vibrations: bladeless turbines could bring wind power to your home
‘Skybrators’ generate clean energy without environmental impact of large windfarms, say green pioneers
The giant windfarms that line hills and coastlines are not the only way to harness the power of the wind, say green energy pioneers who plan to reinvent wind power by forgoing the need for turbine towers, blades – and even wind.
“We are not against traditional windfarms,” says David Yáñez, the inventor of Vortex Bladeless. His six-person startup, based just outside Madrid, has pioneered a turbine design that can harness energy from winds without the sweeping white blades considered synonymous with wind power.
The design recently won the approval of Norway’s state energy company, Equinor, which named Vortex on a list of the 10 most exciting startups in the energy sector. Equinor will also offer the startup development support through its tech accelerator programme.
The bladeless turbines stand at 3 metres high, a curve-topped cylinder fixed vertically with an elastic rod. To the untrained eye it appears to waggle back and forth, not unlike a car dashboard toy. In reality, it is designed to oscillate within the wind range and generate electricity from the vibration.
It has already raised eyebrows on the forum site Reddit, where the turbine was likened to a giant vibrating sex toy, or “skybrator”. The unmistakably phallic design attracted more than 94,000 ratings and 3,500 comments on the site. The top rated comment suggested a similar device might be found in your mother’s dresser drawer. It received 20,000 positive ratings from Reddit users.
“Our technology has different characteristics which can help to fill the gaps where traditional windfarms might not be appropriate,” says Yáñez.
These gaps could include urban and residential areas where the impact of a windfarm would be too great, and the space to build one would be too small. It plugs into the same trend for installing small-scale, on-site energy generation, which has helped homes and companies across the country save on their energy bills.
This could be wind power’s answer to the home solar panel, says Yáñez.
“They complement each other well, because solar panels produce electricity during the day while wind speeds tend to be higher at night,” he says. “But the main benefit of the technology is in reducing its environmental impact, its visual impact, and the cost of operating and maintaining the turbine.”
The turbine is no danger to bird migration patterns, or wildlife, particularly if used in urban settings. For the people living or working nearby, the turbine would create noise at a frequency virtually undetectable to humans.
“Today, the turbine is small and would generate small amounts of electricity. But we are looking for an industrial partner to scale up our plans to a 140 metre turbine with a power capacity of 1 megawatt,” says Yáñez.
Vortex is not the only startup hoping to reinvent wind power. Alpha 311, which began in a garden shed in Whitstable, Kent, has begun manufacturing a small vertical wind turbine that it claims can generate electricity without wind.
The 2 metre turbine, made from recycled plastic, is designed to fit on to existing streetlights and generate electricity as passing cars displace the air. Independent research commissioned by the company has found that each turbine installed along a motorway could generate as much electricity as 20 sq metres of solar panels, more than enough electricity to keep the streetlight on and help power the local energy grid, too.
A scaled down version of the turbine, standing at less than 1 metre, will be installed at the O2 Arena in London where it will help to generate clean electricity for the 9 million people who visit the entertainment venue in a usual year.
“While our turbines can be placed anywhere, the optimal location is next to a highway, where they can be fitted on to existing infrastructure. There’s no need to dig anything up, as they can attach to the lighting columns that are already there and use the existing cabling to feed directly into the grid,” says Mike Shaw, a spokesperson for the company. “The footprint is small, and motorways aren’t exactly beauty spots.”
Perhaps the most ambitious divergence from the standard wind turbine has emerged from the German startup SkySails, which hopes to use an airborne design to harness wind power directly from the sky.
SkySails makes large fully automated kites designed to fly at altitudes of 400 metres to capture the power of high-altitude winds. During its ascent the kite pulls a rope tethered to a winch and a generator on the ground. The kite generates electricity as it rises into the sky and, once completely unspooled, uses only a fraction of the electricity generated to winch back towards the ground.
Stephan Wrage, the chief executive of SkySails, says the airborne wind energy systems mean “the impact on people and the environment is minimal …The systems work very quietly, practically have no visible effect on the landscape and barely cast a shadow,” he adds.
Today, the design can generate a maximum capacity of 100 to 200 kilowatts, but a new partnership with the German energy firm RWE could increase the potential output from kilowatts to megawatts. A spokesperson for RWE said the pair are currently looking for the ideal kite-flying site in the German countryside.
As the ocean warms, North Atlantic Right Whales are moving north to cooler waters in unprotected zones, where they die from vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear and where their food sources may be scarce.
Fewer than 250 mature North Atlantic right whales were estimated to be alive at the end of 2018, with the total population having plummeted by 15% over the last decade.
The factors contributing to the dwindling population of Right Whales include vessel strikes, fishing gear entanglements and lack of food. Climate change is redistributing the crustaceans called copepods that Right Whales eat.
Right Whales are spending more time in Canada than they used to, which is causing serious problems for their conservation. The deaths since 2017 are largely due to some form of human action, like boat collisions, both in United States and Canadian waters. Quite a few, though not all, of these collisions have happened in the St. Lawrence Estuary in Canada.
But the Right Whale population has also seen low reproductive rates and declining health status in recent years that can’t be explained by vessel impacts. New research points to another possible culprit: climate change.
The Gulf of Maine is warming more rapidly than nearly any other ocean ecosystem on the planet. Scientists think the reasons include changes in the path of the Gulf Stream and the way its warm waters are interacting with other currents in the North Atlantic.
“Deep waters are warming and we think that is having an impact on the life cycle, and the distribution of the critters that right whales eat,” says Pendleton. Those critters – flea-like animals known as copepods, specifically the species Calanus finmarchicus – are a critical food supply for the endangered whales. Read more about this here.
Noise pollution can mask whales’ important underwater communication calls and reduce foraging success, which affects species’ health and reproductive abilities. Ocean noise can also divert the whales from their typical migration paths into areas unsuitable for feeding or into the path of passing ships.
Thus, it is heartening that offshore wind project plans are adopting restrictions, beyond those required by law, on vessel speed and limits on loud turbine construction from pile driving and geophysical survey activities. The limitations take in to account the times when North Atlantic Right whales are unlikely to be in the area.
Local NIMBY groups in East Hampton fighting offshore wind projects, such as the South Fork Wind Farm, are using the plight of Right Whales in a sinister ploy to derail these offshore wind energy projects, which would only worsen ocean warming and the lack of critical food supply for Right Whales. Yet these same groups can not even tell the difference between a Right Whale and a Humpback Whale! See their posters attached in pdf format.
SOUTH FORK WIND – Field Surveys & Site Evaluation Purpose.
South Fork Wind is performing nearshore geotechnical surveys to inform the cable landing. The work will be performed by a lift boat named the Laredo Brazos – a barge that can stand out of the water for protection from wave action. The surveys will consist of three soil borings of the seafloor. The soil borings will be taken at points 780 feet, 1470 feet, and 2,160 feet from shore, directly off the Wainscott Beach.
Timeline: The vessel is anticipated to arrive on or around November 15 and activity will begin on November 16. We anticipate the work will be completed by November 25. The barge, as well as a smaller vessel named the Kristen Miller, will be visible from shore during this time. Timeline & Location
I have been in and out of politics and government, at every level, for over 40 years. As for political ads, I am not easily shocked. But I was both shocked and saddened to see the full-page ad posted by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott. On the Fourth of July weekend, the message appropriated the style and structure of the Declaration of Independence and used it to launch a vicious personal attack on Peter Van Scoyoc, East Hampton’s thoughtful and soft-spoken town supervisor.
The allegations, intended to make the case for the creation of a new village government for Wainscott, were numerous, and either totally false or grossly misrepresented the facts. At this perilous time for our nation when we should all be seeking ways to unite our communities, it is disappointing to see good people of Wainscott manipulated by a handful of super-rich summer residents in order to stop an underground utility cable that would deliver clean, renewable energy to 70,000 South Fork homes and businesses, benefiting us all. And they have added to their list of grievances their opposition to a modest affordable work force housing opportunity that would be located on Route 114 (closer to my home in Northwest Woods than to the mansions on Beach Lane).
Their latest goal is the incorporation of Wainscott as a village with boundaries that run all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the south side of Route 114, and from Division Street in Sag Harbor to Stephen Hand’s Path in East Hampton. Taxes would be increased dramatically on the homes and businesses within these boundaries to pay for the services and administration of a new village.
This small group of self-interested, part-time residents has created a fearsome false narrative on the perils of the South Fork Wind project, and are asking hundreds of Wainscott residents to foot the bill for the Nimby protection of their exclusive enclave. I hope the good people of East Hampton will not be taken in by this shameful campaign.
Former East Hampton
False Product Springs July 6, 2020
Wainscott will be forever changed not by the installation of an underground electric cable to deliver much-needed renewable or by a much-needed mall affordable housing development of new neighbors. It will be forever changed by residents who have decided to sever connections to the community of East Hampton. They want no part in solutions to the needs of the community or responsibility for their contributions to the problems of our town.
However, the deepest tradition of the hamlet of Wainscott is of neighbor helping neighbor, no matter in what part of town help was needed. When the townspeople were beset by a natural or man-made disaster, they did their part to help those in need. They pitched in with all they could. That is the tradition of Wainscott.
Now these town traditions are threatened by an attack-marketing campaign touting creating another layer of government to be controlled by the few. Yes, an incorporated village will be controlled by the few. They say the government positions will be nonsalaried. Ask yourself this question. Who can afford a job with no salary, no benefits, no retirement plan? Do you have the money it takes to campaign against their choices in future village elections? The teams of lawyers and national marketing agencies and engineers that they can afford cost more than yearly salaries for some. Will you forgo your equal representation in town government? Petition: “Signer Beware.”
This campaign began last year with personal attacks on a neighbor whose reputation in this town has been built upon a lifetime of community service and a town leader who has been appointed and elected to your own government for decades. Peter Van Scoyoc is a town leader who refuses to put the power of a few over the needs of the many in his job as supervisor. We have known that for decades. Peter and his family are a part of the fabric of this community, whether you agree with his politics or not. Try as hard as money will buy, they could not redefine Peter, and he won Wainscott by an overwhelming majority in 2019.
The group who have appropriated the name of preservers of what is Wainscott will be the ones who forever change the fundamental core of this entire town. We work together for the good of the many, and not the power of a few.
Good people of Wainscott: It is you who now must preserve the traditions of your community and our town by rejecting the false product you are now being sold.
At It Again East Hampton July 6, 2020
Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, or C.P.W., is at it again. Don’t let these wealthy self-centered people fool you into doing something that will not benefit you.
In the beginning, C.P.W. was all in favor of the South Fork Wind Farm but now it is not. Initially, C.P.W. did not want a cable buried under Beach Lane on its way north to the L.I.R.R. right of way. C.P.W. raised big funds from the wealthy few involved and hired teams of lawyers, engineers, P.R. firms, etc. C.P.W. waged battle on the Article Seven front with the various New York State agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Public Service, Department of Transportation, and Department of State. C.P.W. fought against the East Hampton Town Board, East Hampton Town Trustees, and a variety of other organizations that wanted the best decision for the 70,000 residents who would benefit from the South Fork Wind Farm.
Apparently, C.P.W. sees the handwriting on the wall that few of the 70,000 beneficiaries are on its side. So, C.P.W. upped the ante, and now says that renewable energy is not good, and even if it is, it should be brought in from UpIsland. C.P.W. knows that this would be very expensive since the current infrastructure would need to be replaced to carry the increased load. C.P.W., seeing failure looming, has now hired another law firm to lead the charge to incorporate Wainscott as a village.
C.P.W. makes numerous false allegations against East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc that exist only in the minds of C.P.W. Peter Van Scoyoc has treated this whole process as a fair and thoughtful arbiter of the many issues and concerns around the South Fork Wind Farm. He has been very patient in listening to all sides and giving all sides an opportunity to be heard. Peter Van Scoyoc represents all the residents of East Hampton Town, and C.P.W. is right about one thing: only a small number live in Wainscott. The South Fork Wind Farm will benefit every resident of East Hampton Town, not only with adequate electric power but with cleaner air and water, not to mention bluer skies.
C.P.W. then attacks Peter Van Scoyoc for selling Wainscott’s legacy by burying an electric cable under its roads. I am not sure what legacy they are talking about, but I note there was no complaint or reference to legacy when Peter Van Scoyoc and the East Hampton Town Board provided Suffolk County water to many Wainscott residents. Please note, these water pipes were buried under Wainscott’s roads.
C.P.W. then complains that Peter Van Scoyoc hasn’t reduced the noise sufficiently at East Hampton Airport. C.P.W. knows full well that the airport situation is now controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration, and not by the East Hampton Town Board.
C.P.W. and its wealthy sponsors, who, by the way, are involved in New York City with organizations to help minorities and the disadvantaged, are alleging that Peter Van Scoyoc has failed to control multifamily housing by proposing to build affordable housing on Route 114. The one thing East Hampton needs is affordable housing for its many workers.
C.P.W. is stretching to find any reason to justify incorporating Wainscott. Incorporation will cause taxes to go up in Wainscott and will not give any leverage to Wainscott in the airport noise discussion.
C.P.W. claims its new Wainscott village board will serve without compensation: You get what you pay for.
Wainscott will need to reimburse East Hampton for the millions it spent on the water pipes, and it will need to contract for police, fire, schools, highway maintenance, and all the other village services now provided by the Town of East Hampton.
The South Fork Wind Farm will eliminate the fossil fuel-fired “peaker plants,” which are used in the summer months to meet the increased demand for electricity. These “peaker plants” may get more use now that the pandemic has caused an increase in East Hampton’s population that may not go down in September. These “peaker plants” foul the air and water with CO2, causing air and water pollution to the detriment of humans and fish.
Don’t let these wealthy, self-centered people fool you into doing something that will not benefit you.
• ”more than 30 years after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb in 1879 and soon afterwards installed a lighting system in a business section of lower Manhattan, barely 10% of American homes were wired. Even after the First World War that percentage rose only to 20%”
• Science, May 10 1889: “A new disease, called photo-electric opthalmia, is described as due to the continual action of the electric light on the eyes. The patient is awakened in the night by severe pain around the eye, accompanied by an excessive secretion of tears.”
Telephones: A cause of ear troubles:
British Medical Journal 1889, Sept 21: pp671-725.
Causes included: “wireless telegraphy, science, steam power, newspapers and the education of women; in other words modern civilization”. Since then the following have been added: televisions, microwave ovens, electric blankets, computer screens, powerlines, WiFi, smart meters, wind turbines.
Growth in mobile phones & the flat-line incidence rate for brain cancer, Australia 1982-2017:
“Infections … if you fear them, you call them upon you.”- Francis Bacon (1561 –1626)
What is uncontested about WTS (Windturbine syndrome):
•The direct causation hypothesis would predict that all wind farms should affect some people. BUT in stead, a small minority of wind farms have a small minority of residents who claim to be affected.
•The great majority of complaints occur in English-speaking nations, despite the proliferation of wind farms in Europe, China, and many other non-English speaking nations.
•Ontario (English-speaking) has a history of complaints. Quebec (French speaking) next door has had very few complaints
•Wind farms with a history of being targeted by opposition groups are more “affected” by wind turbine syndrome. Just 6 farms of 78 wind farms in Australia have had 73% of all complaints
•Those with negative views about wind farms are more likely to report symptoms than those with positive views
•Those being paid to host turbines very rarely complain, suggesting that the drug “money” may be a powerful preventive
•Claims about only “susceptible” individuals get symptoms (like those who get motion sickness while others don’t) struggle to explain why there are apparently no susceptible people in, for example, all of Western Australia or Tasmania, where there are wind farms but zero records of health complaints
•Claims about “over 40” Australian families having to abandon their infrasound affected homes have never been validated, with those making the claims saying that many of the “windfarm refugees” do not want publicity.
•While some complain of acute effects within minutes of exposure, the first known complaints about wind farms date from 2002. But many wind farms were operational for many years prior to 2002. So why were there no reported acute effects occurring in those years?
•Not a single clinical case report of WTS in any peer reviewed journal
•Experimental subjects randomised to be exposed or not exposed to negative news footage about wind farm harms and then exposed to infrasound and sham infrasound show that prior exposure to anxiety producing messages increases reporting of symptoms, even to sham infrasound.
Complaints to Australia’s National Wind Farm Commissioner in 37 months to Dec 2018: Across 37 months that the office has been open, it has received 283 complaints about wind farms:
•65 (23%) about 11 operational wind farms
•191 (67%) about 51 proposed wind farms
•27 (10%) which did not specify any existing or proposed farm
Air pollution and climate change are “two sides of the same coin,” according to the United Nations Environment Program. Climate change will make air pollution worse, while some air pollutants can exacerbate global climate change.
This is the topic of a recent scientific reportwritten by Elizabeth Ridlington and Gideon Weissman (Frontier Group) and Morgan Folger (Environment America Research & Policy Center).
Air pollution such as black carbon, a form of particulate pollution, exacerbates global warming. Black carbon in the air readily absorbs sunlight, increasing the temperature of the atmosphere.13 When black carbon lands on snow or ice, it absorbs heat and hastens melting. This can lead to greater warming, as open water and bare ground retain more heat from the sun than do snow or ice. Production of natural gas is a major source of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which contribute to air pollution via ozone formation (see below), and also releases methane, a powerful global warming pollutant that traps more than 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over 20 years.14 Just as air pollution and global warming share some common causes, and are linked together in a self-reinforcing cycle, so too do they share another characteristic: scientific alarm about their threats to the environment and public health.
People across America regularly breath polluted air that increases their risk of premature death, and can also trigger asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.
In 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. That is equal to more than three months of the year in which ground-level ozone (the main ingredient in smog) and/or particulate pollution (PM2.5) were above the safe levels as determined by the EPA.
For instance, here on Long Island air quality levels by these measures are: 71-100 days/year above the EPA safe levels for ground level ozone and PM2.5.
Air pollution is linked to health problems including respiratory illness, heart attack, stroke, cancer and mental health problems. Research continues to reveal new health impacts. For example, maternal exposure to air pollution such as fine particulates (PM2.5) and ozone is associated with a higher risk of low birth weight, pre-term birth and stillbirth. For older adults, long-term exposure to particulate pollution has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Air pollution’s effects are pronounced among vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women and the elderly. Research has found that children exposed to particulate pollution can suffer from lung development problems and long-term harm to lung function.
Each year, millions of Americans suffer from adverse health impacts linked to air pollution, and tens of thousands have their lives cut short.
Two pollutants of special concern are particulate matter and ozone. Fine particulate pollution smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) poses especially high health risks because it can be deposited deep in the lungs.18Ozone that forms near the ground is the main ingredient in smog and is associated with adverse health impacts (as opposed to ozone in the high atmosphere, which blocks harmful solar ultraviolet rays from reaching the earth). These are the main culprits and are most frequently monitored by the numbers of days at a given location where levels are above the EPA’s “safe level”.
Premature death. Globally, ozone and fine particulate matter are estimated to cause 470,000 and 2.1 million deaths each year, respectively, by damaging the lungs and respiratory system.19 A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that in the U.S. fine particulate matter generated by human activities was responsible for more than 107,000 premature deaths in 2011.20
A 2019 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that when the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increased by 10 micrograms (μg) per cubic meter, daily mortality in the U.S. increased by 1.58 percent. A 1.58 percent increase in daily mortality equals an additional 122 deaths in the U.S. on a day when fine particulate pollution increased by 10 μg per cubic meter.21 When coarse particulate matter (PM10) increased by 10 micrograms (μg) per cubic meter, daily mortality rose 0.79 percent.22
The reverse was also observed. A 2009 study compared U.S. metropolitan areas across decades and found that a 10 μg per cubic meter decrease in fine particulate matter concentrations was associated with an increase in average life expectancy of approximately 0.6 years.23
Damage to respiratory and cardiovascular systems. In weeks with elevated ozone or particulate matter pollution, hospital emergency rooms see more patients for breathing problems.24 A 2019 study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) found that higher levels of pollutants including ozone and particulate matter in the air are associated with increased risk of emphysema.25 Air pollution, especially traffic related air pollution, not only worsens asthma but may also cause more people to develop asthma.26 Research also shows strong associations between air pollution and cardiovascular diseases including stroke.27 Particulate pollution is associated with increased risk of hospitalization for heart disease.28
Worsened mental health and functioning. A 2019 study published in PLOS Biology found that poor air quality, including higher levels of particulate matter and ozone, was associated with increases in bipolar disorder.29 Long-term exposure to particulate pollution has also been associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.30
Decreased fertility and harm to pregnancies. Exposure to air pollution has been associated with difficulty in having children, and increased risk of low birth weight and premature deliveries.31 A 2019 study of women in Italy found that higher levels of particulate matter (both PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrogen dioxide are associated with lower levels of ovarian reserve, a marker of female fertility.32 A 2013 study found “short-term decreases in a couple’s ability to conceive” associated with higher levels of PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide.33 Maternal exposure to PM2.5 or ozone is associated with a higher risk of low birth weight, pre-term birth and stillbirth.34 One study estimated that in 2010, up to 42,800 preterm births in the U.S. and Canada were related to women’s exposure to PM2.5, accounting for up to 10 percent of preterm births.35
Increased cancer risk. Exposure to air pollution can cause lung cancer and other cancers.36 The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, has found that outdoor air pollution generally, and particulate matter specifically, are carcinogenic to humans.37 The IARC determined that “exposures to outdoor air pollution or particulate matter in polluted outdoor air are associated with increases in genetic damage that have been shown to be predictive of cancer in humans.” In 2010, 223,000 lung cancer deaths globally were attributed to exposure to PM2.5.38
Air pollution likely poses health threats even at levels the EPA considers safe.
Research suggests that “moderate” air quality can, in fact, pose broad threats to public health, and a variety of medical and public health organizations have recommended tighter air quality standards that are more protective of public health. The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, recommends lower ozone and particulate pollution standards than are currently in place in the United States. The American Thoracic Society, the American Lung Association and other health associations support the same standards for fine particulates as the WHO.50
Ozone, the main component of smog, is formed by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight.56 Fossil fuels – both their combustion and production – are major sources of NOx and VOC emissions.
Particulate matter consists of solid or liquid particles that can be emitted directly from a source or that can form in the air from chemicals such as VOCs, sulfur dioxide, ammonia and NOx.65 Fine particulates smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) pose elevated health risks as they can be absorbed deep into the lungs.66 The impact of PM2.5 is further increased by the fact that it is so lightweight that it remains in the air for a long time and can travel hundreds of miles from its source.67 Primary particulate matter is created by a variety of sources, including fossil fuel combustion; dust from roads, agriculture and construction; wildfires; and wood burned for heating.68 On average across the U.S., the majority of the particulate pollution in the atmosphere is secondary particulate pollution, which forms through a chemical reaction.69 Secondary PM2.5 can be created from sources including sulfur dioxide emitted by burning coal and other fossil fuels for electricity generation and industrial power; nitrogen oxides from fossil fuel combustion; and ammonia from fertilizer and manure.70 Mobile sources (including cars, trucks and other on-road vehicles and also off-road vehicles) accounted for 20 percent of both primary and secondary PM2.5, according to one 2004 study.71
Global warming will make air pollution worse.
Higher temperatures have already resulted in increased ozone, despite lower emissions of the chemicals that create ozone. In the central U.S. in the summer of 2012, for example, higher temperatures caused higher levels of ozone than in the years before and after.83
The American Lung Association found that ozone was higher in the 2014 to 2016 period than in previous recent three-year study periods, and attributed the increase to higher temperatures.84
Hotter, drier conditions have increased wildfires, which create particulate pollution as well as VOCs and nitrogen oxides that contribute to ozone formation. By one estimate, global warming nearly doubled the total acreage that burned in western states from 1984 to 2015, compared to a scenario in which the climate had not changed.85 Wildfires also burn for longer, causing more prolonged and widespread exposure to pollutants. The typical large wildfire now burns for more than seven weeks, compared to less than a week in the 1970s.86
One study estimates global warming will increase the number of air pollution-related premature deaths if no measures are implemented to counteract global warming’s impact on air quality. The analysis, published in 2017, estimates that an additional 1,130 Americans may die prematurely in the year 2030 from smog pollution under a scenario where global warming emissions are high and unchecked.100 The study also estimates that particulate pollution worsened by global warming could cause an extra 6,900 premature deaths in 2030.
In many cases, the activities that cause air pollution also contribute to global warming. Efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming, have the potential to help reduce ozone and particulate pollution as well.
Progress on air pollution has stalled. Though air quality in the U.S. has improved over the decades, in recent years that progress has slowed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculates that the average level of ozone pollution dropped by 31 percent from 1980 to 2018 and that fine particulate pollution dropped by 34 percent from 2000 to 2018.107 However, the agency’s analysis of elevated ozone and particulate pollution in 35 major cities shows that the number of days of pollution was higher in each of the years from 2015 through 2018 than it was in 2013 or 2014.108 Furthermore, the agency’s data show that 2018 had more days of pollution than each of the previous five years. The data analysis for this report reveals that the increase in days of elevated air pollution means that millions more Americans lived in areas with polluted air in 2018 than in 2016.109
There are of course a number of policy recommendations:
Support zero-emission vehicles
Create a strong regional program to reduce transportation emissions under the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) in northeastern and mid-Atlantic states
Ensure that states can adopt and strengthen pollution standards for passenger vehicles
Maintain strong federal fuel economy and global warming pollution standards for transportation
Support policies that can reduce driving and increase walking, biking and the use of transit.
Supporting clean, renewable energy. Move the country away from fossil fuels – which are a major source of climate pollution in transportation, electricity generation and buildings – and toward the use of clean, renewable energy like wind turbines and solar panels.
Maintain the gains already achieved under implementation of the Clean Air Act