A Washington State representative was quoted this week in an email to a local bike shop owner describing how bicycling was bad for the environment. The gist of his argument was that increased respiration from the cyclists would increase their carbon dioxide output, contributing to global warming. That the amount of carbon dioxide generated by a human body is orders of magnitude less than that generated by an automobile does not appear to have occurred to him. Science literacy is important. More than that, understanding the scientific concept of scale is hugely important to understanding anything about the causes or consequences of things that impact us.
There are a lot of inter-related systems. There are a lot of forces at work. Some things happen on timescales much longer than the human experience, and some involve amounts of things either too big or too small for us to adequately vision. Read. Pay attention to the numbers. Compare things. Ask questions.
Picture of Beijing air pollution at noon: