The Pros And Cons Of Air Pollution

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In the economy, the government plays a minimalistic role and intervenes only when necessary. However, there is an issue defining the amount of government intervention which should occur. The Coase Theorem provides guidelines when dealing with externalities; government involvement is not needed when ownership of property is defined clearly, only a small number of people are affected, and bargaining costs are insignificant. In cases such as pollution, private bargaining can not remedy the negative externality, and government involvement becomes unavoidable. One type of pollution which has required the government to arbitrate is emissions because the emissions are released into the air, a large number of people are affected, and the environment …show more content…
There are many different types of emissions which are released from various sources such as power generation, responsible for about 70% of sulfur dioxide emissions, 20% of nitrogen oxide emissions, and 40% of mercury emissions released into the air (Human Health and Environmental Effects of Emissions from Power Generation). So, who is responsible? The air is not privately owned, thus no one is likely to take on the sole responsibility of maintaining its purity (tragedy of the commons). Therefore, reduction of air pollution falls on the government’s shoulders (Air Pollution). The United States Environmental Protection Agency, an agency of the U.S. federal government, has taken on the mission to protect both the environment and human health (Our Mission and What We Do). It is the EPA which provides the necessary regulations on emissions and other types of pollution to help to keep the air relatively …show more content…
Photochemical smog, acid rain, the death of forests, and reduced atmospheric visibility are just some of the effects of air pollution. Emissions from fossil fuel combustion are associated with global warming, which may be altering earth’s climate permanently (Majewski and Jääskeläinen, “Environmental Effects of Emissions”). Along with altering climate, emissions indirectly interferes with the physiology of plants, animal species, and entire ecosystems (Majewski and Jääskeläinen, “Environmental Effects of Emissions”). In the report by Majewski and Jääskeläinen, 8 out of the 9 air pollutants listed in Table 1 have a negative impact on the environment (Majewski and Jääskeläinen, “Environmental Effects of Emissions”). In addition to being released into the air, emissions can also be deposited in soil and water, causing them to enter the food chain (King, “How Does Car Pollution Affect the Environment & Ozone Layer?”) This widespread damage is too large for one individual to manage; issues such as air pollution are EPA’s

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