Image: photo of the Sydney Opera House, engulfed in heavy smoke.

"The bigger story is climate change"

Air Quality Research Center Director, Tony Wexler, spoke with Mark Kaufman of Mashable about the smoke and poor air quality in Sydney from the Australia fires. Sydney's pollution levels were more than 11 times the hazardous level. 

In his article, Sydney, engulfed in smoke, has a ghastly air quality problem, Kaufman shares:

The consequences of burning things, like trees and houses, is terrible for breathing...breathing this stuff is bad for your heart. It's linked to an acceleration of plaque build-up in blood vessels. The particles can enter one's bloodstream, explained Wexler, burying themselves inside walls.

"There is a strong epidemiological association between smoke and respiratory and cardiovascular health," said Tasmania's Bowman. "A huge fraction of the population along the east coast — maybe a third of the total Australian population of 25 million — has been exposed to dangerous smoke levels."

Australia, ravaged by fire, is one of the world's largest exporters of coal, which emits more carbon dioxide than any other fossil fuel. "Total domestic production has more than doubled since the early 1990s and export volumes have grown strongly," notes Australia's central bank. Much of this coal goes to Asia. 

"They’re exporting coal like crazy to China," said Wexler, citing the inevitable consequences of emitting carbon. "You're going to have wildfires that are going to destroy your country."

Read the full article: Sydney, engulfed in smoke, has a ghastly air quality problem, written by Mark Kaufman for Mashable online here

Photo Credit: Mashable

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