August, 2061

First Clean Air Shelter opened here after death toll rises due to poor air quality.

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There are three things humans need to survive: water, food, and air. Climate change threatens to take away the final one: the air we breathe. For humans to survive, access to a clean air shelter has become one of the necessary changes to our life. While we have grown accustomed to cooling centers as places to seek refuge from the heat, clean air shelters used to be uncommon things. They were found only in the Pacific Northwest, starting in the 2020s due to deadly widespread wildfires. With rising temperatures, poor air quality drastically increased. The fires spread across the country, combining with our own foolish local pollution. Finally, the air quality grew so tainted that the first air shelter opened in 2061, reducing the intake of unfiltered and increasingly dangerous outdoor air.
This regular use of clean air shelters is a necessary change to our society. Health effects of poor air quality from pollution or wildfires include  pneumonia, coughing and shortness of breath, heart damage and increased infections. Ground level ozone -- which has reached high levels as sunlight and heat have reacted with industrial emissions – can also harm the development of children, and increase the risk of reproductive harm in adults. It even increases asthma attacks. Overall, poor air quality is damaging to humans.

Take Action Now

This threat must promote action. Yes, citizens of Arlington should plan for the necessity of a clean air shelter as conditions grow worse each year. But there are other ways to stop the scenario on this marker from becoming a reality. There are many things we can do to reduce the carbon emissions that are causing the climate crisis and increasing air pollution and wildfires. Individually, we can compost, take shorter showers, turn down our thermostats in the winter and reduce air-conditioning in the summer, reduce consumption, and drive less. But overall, we aren’t going to solve this problem by individual actions. Together, we must demand that legislation, like the Green New Deal be enacted. We need to hold companies responsible for polluting our air, the millions of tons of plastic they create every year, the billions of barrels of oil their products consume a year, and the blatant disrespect for the environment and anything that doesn’t concern profit.
We can sign petitions, push for bills to be passed, and show corporations they will lose our business unless they change. We can’t do this alone. It’s not an individual responsible for climate change. The responsibility for clean air rests with corporations who pollute the world. We have three things we need to live. We can’t let anyone take air from our lungs.