Like many children in the San Joaquin Valley, six-year-old Kira Hinslea suffers from severe asthma. On many days, she must stay indoors due to the air pollution outside. Image by Larry C. Price. California, 2018.

This letter features reporting from "In California’s Fertile Valley, Industry and Agriculture Hang Heavy in the Air" by Brendan Borrell and Larry C. Price

Dear Senator Marco Rubio,  

My name is Prajit, and I am a fifth grader at Stowers Elementary, Florida. I am writing this letter to inform you about a global issue called air pollution. This is not your everyday problem. In the words of Irv Kupcinet, “Air pollution is turning Mother Nature prematurely gray.”

A lot of things cause air pollution. One way humans pollute is by using gas-powered cars. These cars burn gasoline which produces harmful chemicals like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. If we breathe in these chemicals, we will ruin our lungs. However, there are several sources of air pollution, like burning fossil fuels at nuclear power plants, acid rain, and smog. Acid rain is when chemicals from pollutants mix with rainwater, which then falls onto Earth, landing on habitats and destroying animal species. Smog materializes when particles from the pollutants mix with fog particles (“In California’s Fertile Valley, Industry and Agriculture Hang Heavy in the Air” by Brenden Borrell and Larry C. Price). These two byproducts of burning fossil fuels cause thousands of premature deaths each year. Although strides have been made to act against this severe problem, air pollution is here to stay unless we drive it out ourselves.

Unfortunately, Florida is not an exception to air pollution. I can relate to this because one of my friends has asthma and frequently coughs in the presence of car exhaust and smoke. Furthermore, I have seen many factories around downtown Florida that release large amounts of greenhouse gases. This is very concerning, and I am worried for my family’s and fellow citizens’ health. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that this is a major problem that desperately needs a solution.

I have been thinking about a solution to this problem, and I would recommend using solar, wind, or hydro-electrical power because these generate electricity without polluting. Also, to add to the benefits of using these resources, they are renewable, so we don’t need to worry about running out of them. Imagine fields full of windmills, households with solar panels, and raging water in dams creating more energy than nuclear power plants. If we transition to clean energy now, pollution will be gone before we know it; smog and acid rain will follow in its footsteps. It would be an investment for our future. 

Florida is a transportation-heavy state. This means that many of the pollutants that are in the air come from gas-powered cars. Therefore, electric cars are a better option for the environment. They don’t pollute because of the electric motor. However, I understand that electric cars are not the most affordable solution. The next best option is hybrid cars; an inexpensive choice, easy maneuvering, and environmentally friendly. Hybrids only produce 6,258 pounds of annual emissions compared to the 11,435 pounds of annual emissions from conventional vehicles, as stated in “Emissions from Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles.” If the government helps people to purchase hybrid and electric cars, citizens will be more motivated to stay green while traveling.  

The solutions I have presented to you might take a while to implement and for everyone to grow accustomed to, but it will lead to a healthier planet. Future generations should have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and an earth to live in that isn’t on the brink of destruction. Furthermore, when Florida starts inviting change, other states will too. America has always led the world in many fields; why can’t we lead environmentally as well? After all, it is our responsibility as a society to make sure our future doesn’t go up in smoke. 


Prajit Manivannan  

Prajit Manivannan is 11 years old, and he is a fifth grader at Stowers Elementary School. He lives with his parents and his sister in Lithia, Florida. Some of his favorite things to do are to play board games with his family, play chess, and solve Rubik’s Cubes. Prajit also enjoys playing basketball with his friends. One of Prajit’s goals is to become a better chess player, because that is his favorite hobby and mind game.

Read more winning entries from the 2020 Local Letters for Global Change contest!