Which is worse: litter, air, water, noise, or light pollution?

May 2, 2023 by Joshua
in Awareness, Nature

I’ve been trying to decide which pollution is worst.

I pick up litter daily so I participate actively with it. Have you picked up litter regularly? When I do, I can’t help speculate what in a person’s mind and heart led them to decide putting a given piece of litter where they did. It leads me to see a dark and selfish part of humanity. That people claim not to connect their litter with the world drowning in it . . . How else can I put it? They’re acting stupid.

Air and water pollution are similar, just less tangible. Still, even on clear days, looking to the horizon in New York City, I see the air’s yellow-brown tinge, and New York City doesn’t rank among the nation’s most polluted cities.

Light pollution is easy not to think about, but if you live in a city, how often do you see the Milky Way? It’s one of the most beautiful things we can see and nearly every human who ever lived until recently could take seeing it for granted. Today, four billion people live in cities and most of us likely see the Milky Way a tenth of the time.

I ‘m inclined to consider noise pollution the worst. It’s not tangible so I think we don’t think of it as much, but if you live in a city, I suspect you face it nonstop. It’s insidious. I haven’t looked it up, but I’ll bet studies show it takes years off our lives. And increase stress. And it leads to more other loud noises. I bet studies show noise pollution affects kids most.

Most loud noises I hear come from engines burning fossil fuels. One crazy aspect to noise pollution is that being in nature isn’t exactly quiet. Forests have wind rustling branches and birds calling. Beaches have waves crashing on the shore. Those noises that existed before humans don’t harm us. We do it to each other.

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