It’s 2100, and the world is in a dark place. Making the fateful decision to not act on its obsession with fossil fuels, humanity continued to pump carbon dioxide and particulates into the atmosphere. People can no longer remember what it’s like to walk beneath azure skies. Our only hope for salvation rests with a handful of mavericks, who wish to filter the filth out of the air in our drought-ridden cities.
Frustratingly, this grim vision of the future could become a reality. Tens of millions of people already die from air pollution every single year. Wishing to fight this scourge, a team of Dutch inventors have built air purifiers designed to suck pollutants out of the sky.
Treating hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of air each hour, it is able to filter out 100 percent of fine particles and 95 percent of “ultra-fine” particles, the type that cause significant internal damage to our respiratory and nervous systems.
Its efficacy was confirmed by the Netherlands-based Energy Research Centre. Although just a prototype for now, the company hope to produce more as time goes on.
This purifier is reminiscent of a similar air filter installed in Beijing this September by a Dutch artist. Dubbed the Smog Free Tower, it was able to remove 75 percent of particulate matter from tens of thousands of cubic meters of air every single hour. This new invention, however, represents a major step up in terms of filtering efficiency.
In any case, as impressive as these filters are, it does highlight the difficulty we are having in dealing with the source of the problem – in that we need to completely ditch our reliance on fossil fuels.
Without doing so, and without switching to a low-carbon energy mix of renewables and nuclear power, climate change nightmares will continue to manifest themselves at lightning speeds. By continuing to burn coal, oil, and natural gas to produce electricity for homes or energy for transportation, lung-lacerating pollution will continue to spew forth, no matter how many filters we build.
Engineering solutions designed to bury greenhouse gas emissions and suck particulates out of the air are wonderful, but it must not distract us from the core problem. Relying on such methods alone will only cover up the problem, not deal with it.
Unless you have a strange affinity for breathing difficulties, we would argue that the most effective way to prevent such a scorched and smog-filled future would be to vote for lawmakers that take both climate change and air pollution seriously.