It has recently been reported that China has designs for towers that will filter air and water in highly populated and polluted cities. At the base of the towers are greenhouses that could, at least in theory, grow vegetation, including fruits and vegetables, throughout the year. It sounds good in theory, but should we try what China is trying by fighting pollution?
Maybe. Maybe not.
At this point, it’s just theory and a set of drawings. We, including China, don’t know if the tower will be worth the resources spent to create it. Resources that include the environment.
In order to make space for new towns and suburbs, engineers are suggesting that the tops of mountains would need to be sliced off in order to fill the valleys caused by the construction of the immense towers. That in and of itself has environmental implications beyond fighting pollution, including what would happen to the wildlife and ecosystem of these mountainous areas.
China’s air pollution is reportedly so bad that it is often compared to a nuclear winter. Crops are damaged and there is a real threat to their food supply. They, rather than the U.S., might be more likely to build the air and water filter towers.
Should we try what China is trying by fighting pollution?
Let’s look at the viability of creating a monstrous tower. In densely populated cities like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, we would have to destroy private and public land to even have space for this type of tower. That alone would have environmental and political implications.
While there are places in the U.S. with poor air quality, no area comes close to a nuclear winter. So is it worth it – even if we can scrub our air and water clean – to build such a tower?
Maybe. Maybe not.
We’re not a government-controlled nation (like China) that can make blanket decisions for the people. The reality is that between politicians, businesses, and environmentalists, an air and water filtering tower is probably never going to happen.
And China hasn’t even built one yet so we don’t have a real case study to review.
Until someone else builds it, we don’t think it’s happening here. No matter how good it sounds in theory.
For more on this topic, please visit New Tool Fighting Pollution and Climate Change.