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Clean air is essential to our own health and that of the environment. But since the industrial revolution, the quality of the air we breathe has deteriorated considerably – mainly as a result of human activities. Rising industrial and energy production, burning fossil fuels and the dramatic rise in traffic on our roads have all contributed to air pollution in our towns and cities – and damaged our natural environment. Centuries of treating nature like a dustbin have had disastrous consequences on our environment. For example, around 20 % of forests and lakes in Scandinavia are dead and another 30% are badly affected, mostly by air pollution from other countries. The ozone layer, which protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation, has become thinner and thinner over the last 25 years – despite international action to ban CFCs and other harmful substances. And global warming, caused by rising greenhouse gas emissions, has wreaked havoc on our climate, provoking storms, droughts and rising sea levels.