When I graduated from college, I was invited to a classmate’s wedding in Gary, Indiana. At the reception, I saw a silver serving dish enclosed in a plastic bag. To be helpful, I removed it from the bag when the serving line started. I was reprimanded for doing so because the silver dish began turning black in less than an hour. The problem was that a steel mill upwind from the house was putting hydrogen sulfide into the air. It was an early introduction to the fight for clean air.
With my background in chemistry, I knew that sulfur has economic value. I asked a local businessman why the factory had not installed a scrubber to remove and sell the valuable element. He told me that if the steel company was required to add the scrubber, it would move out of the area because of the cost. The company did nothing even when it was subjected to a daily fine. Local people tolerated the air pollution because of job security and the economic consequences of enforcing clean air requirements.
The April 2021 issue of National Geographic carries an article titled “The Fight for Clean Air.” The subtitle is “The Deadly Cost of Dirty Air.” It begins with these words:
Dirty air affects nearly all of the body’s essential systems. It may cause about 20% of all deaths from strokes and coronary disease, triggering heart attacks and arrhythmias, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. It’s linked to lung, bladder, colon, kidney and stomach cancers and to childhood leukemia. It harms kids’ cognitive development and raises older people’s risk of contracting dementia or dying from Parkinson’s disease. It’s been linked to diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, decreased fertility, miscarriage, mood disorders, sleep apnea…”
That is only the beginning of the article. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these problems have affected you or those you love? How many people have blamed God for things that are on that list? The article documents the numbers and claims that air pollution causes seven million premature deaths a year.
Greed and selfishness lead to the construction of factories that put massive amounts of waste materials into the air while avoiding the investment needed to clean the air. People with money move away from the area with polluted air leaving the poor and disadvantaged to breathe the pollutants. This creates a separation between the rich and the poor, spilling over into the racial issues of our day.
The Bible teaches us to be concerned about the well-being of everyone. The pain and suffering that air pollution brings is not the “will of God.” It violates the principles taught by Jesus Christ. We support the fight for clean air on our planet.
— John N. Clayton © 2021