Air Is Vital
Air is a vital source of life on planet earth. Breathing is our method of
bringing air inside our bodies. Breathing disorders express disturbances in the
relationship between the inside and the outside.
Life is breathing. Life is air, food and water. Humans have lungs. Air has
oxygen. Lungs take oxygen from the air and give back carbon dioxide. Oxygen
enters the blood and combines with hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to
every cell in the body. A cell will die without oxygen. Humans can survive
without food for months. Deprived of air, humans die within minutes.
The lung is a branching system of tubes and air sacs. Air enters the nose and mouth and is directed in the throat to the
trachea which carries the air in the chest. The trachea splits into two major
bronchi, one for each lung. The
bronchi branch into smaller and smaller tubes that end ending in air sacks
(alveoli) where the gas exchanges occur. Adult lungs contain about 600 million
alveoli, air-filled sacs that are surrounded by capillaries. Oxygen in the
inhaled air enters the capillaries in alveoli and attaches to hemoglobin
molecules. At the same time, carbon dioxide leaves the capillaries and enters the alveoli. The carbon dioxide leaves
the lungs when you exhale.
Much human disease is airborne. Some of the most common infectious diseases
are spread in the air from person to person when infected humans speak, cough
and sneeze. Some diseases involve immune reactions to airborne particles. Other
diseases come from human activities and chemicals released into the air.
We now have an understanding of the environment. The term “ecosystem” refers
to an understanding of how living creatures interact with each other and with
the physical features of the planet. Almost every student learns the basics of
ecosystems and can tell you that we need clean air, clean water and food to
sustain human populations. The atmosphere of the earth consists of air, water
and suspended particles. The atmosphere changes continuously. Air pollution is a
health hazard and a climate changer. Weather is an
expression of heating and cooling effects in the atmosphere. The sun supplies
most of the energy of change.
Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, is a significant cause of health
problems worldwide. Urban and rural outdoor environments contain infections,
allergens, irritants and toxins that can reduce the quality of life and cause
disease. The benefits to citizens of modern industrial society may have peaked
sometime in recent decades, and increasingly, we are paying the penalties of
pollution of our own nest. When I was a University student, I joined an early
environmental organization called "Pollution Probe" and the main idea was
"Either you are part of the problem or part of the solution".
Most students, like most adult citizens, treat
knowledge of ecosystems as an abstract exercise and will consume, pollute and
ignore the negative environmental consequences of their actions. This is not to
argue that these are bad people. It is to observe that school, book and
television knowledge is too abstract to be widely applicable and that humans
only respond to locally perceived environmental crises.
History tells us that humans adapt easily to deteriorating conditions and
will persist in following daily routines even when air pollution is severe,
traffic is congested, water and food supplies are at risk, and social order is
unstable. The tolerance for environmental destruction is ancient and human
history is littered with civilizations that failed because humans
indiscriminately exploited natural resources and spoiled their own nest. The
solution to this tendency requires strong leadership by smart, well-educated,
compassionate humans who understand that nature is divine and human survival
depends on healthy ecosystems.