Oct 24, 2022
Thought question: What strategies do you use to help make difficult decisions?
Hungary waived environmental regulations on logging. Slovakians are on the hunt for firewood. One Polish leader told fellow Poles “to burn almost everything” except tires.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused an energy crisis in Europe. The crisis could cause more air pollution in Europe this winter. Areas that, in the past, have had poor air quality could be most affected. That includes Central and Eastern Europe. Many in the area already use wood-burning stoves for heat. This winter, they might burn coal. Some could even burn trash.
“Years of development will go down the drain now,” the director of Green Connection Association, a Hungarian environmental group, told the Financial Times. “If their survival depends on it, people will burn anything.”
Air pollution already kills twice as many Hungarians per capita than French or Dutch people. That's according to Hungarian scientists.
Wood stove heating emits pollutants in the form of tiny solid and liquid particles. Those can hurt lungs and cause harm to those with asthma and heart disease. In 2019, according to the European Union, 307,000 people on the continent died from breathing in this form of pollution. It's known as fine particulate matter.
Winter will make the situation worse. People are less inclined to air-out their homes when it’s cold. So, pollution gets trapped inside. Wood burning also puts black carbon into the air. That adds to Arctic ice melt. But many trying to stay warm say they don’t have a choice.
One Hungarian man asked the Financial Times, “What else am I going to do?”
Photo by Tim Bish courtesy of Unsplash.
This watercolor and colored pencil piece incorporates a data line depicting the increase in use of renewable energy in the United States from 2006-2016.
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