A Crisis-Stricken World
Significant changes have been occurring on our planet recently. We have entered a period of global environmental crisis, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has openly warned. Striking reminders of our urgent need to confront the triple-planetary crises of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution include sweltering heatwaves, deadly floods, and irregular weather patterns.
Air Pollution: The Silent Killer
While the world grapples with climate change, there's another silent but deadly adversary - air pollution. Global health statistics paint a grim picture, with lung cancer claiming the lives of 10 million people worldwide in 2020, according to the 2023 World Health Organization (WHO) factsheet. Shockingly, this number could rise by an additional 3.2 million by 2050, as projected by the Indian National Institute of Health's report, 'Mapping of global, regional and national incidence, mortality and mortality-to-incidence ratio of lung cancer in 2020 and 2050.
The Problem of Air Quality in South Asia
With two billion inhabitants, South Asia has a particular problem. It is home to nine of the top ten most polluted cities in the world, including Delhi, where the danger of long-term air pollution for people is still very real. The health concerns linked to Delhi's dirty air persist despite legislative changes that statistically improved the Air Quality Index (AQI). Delhi is knocked to its knees every winter facing hazardous levels of air pollution.
A Lethal Mix: The Composition of Delhi's Air
Delhi's air is a lethal concoction of SO2 (sulphur dioxide) and NOx (nitrogen oxides), coupled with high particulate matter concentrations (2.5 or even 10 μg/m3), carbon monoxide, and ozone. These pollutants deprive over 30 million residents of their basic human right to breathe clean air.
Innovations and Solutions
Combating this situation is already a priority. Solutions like the PUSA Decomposer, created by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), which uses biotechnology to combat agricultural pollution, are being pioneered by state governments, research organizations, and NGOs. Policies implemented at the state level, such as GRAP 3 (Graded Rapid Action Plan) and the creation of Green War Rooms, have promise. Many innovative startups involving young entrepreneurs are turning agricultural waste into valuable products.
Putting Effective Solutions in Place
For growth to occur, best practices must be put into practice. Cities around the world, like Ljubljana (Slovenia), Accra (Ghana), Seville (Spain), Bogota (Colombia), and Medellin (Colombia), are excellent examples of the impact that emphasizing environmental sustainability and human health can have. Positive outcomes are being produced by car-free zones, green areas, intelligent urban designs, electric public transportation, and nature-based solutions. China's transition to clean energy and e-mobility in response to severe pollution, Indonesia's project on "Carbon Efficient Farming," which assesses biomass to reduce CO2 emissions, Thailand and Vietnam's air pollution, which includes enacting an internal carbon tax on all flight tickets and investing in emission reduction measures, are just a few examples of countries taking action to combat pollution.
The Role of Awareness and Action
Young environmental advocates all across the world are taking the lead by participating in marathons, monitoring air quality data in real time, and spreading environmental awareness. But the fact that there isn't a separate Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for "Clean Air to Breathe" highlights how urgent it is for the entire world to pay attention.
International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies
In 2019, recognizing the global interest in clean air and the imperative to improve air quality, the UN General Assembly designated September 7 as the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. However, for many megacities and areas, having clean air is still a distant objective. It is crucial that we give methodical actions top priority, especially in areas like Delhi. We must identify and implement remedies, supported by creative air quality regulations and action plans, because people caused the problem. We must choose whether to accept our responsibility for enacting change and determining the destiny of our world, or whether to choose to remain passive observers and contribute to a potentially disastrous end as we breathe in the effects of our deeds.
A Glimmer of Hope
There are glimmerings of hope amidst the difficulties. There are growing efforts to eliminate open-straw burning as well as other sustainable behaviors. Future improvements to global living standards are possible if we work together.
Q1: How does air pollution affect health?
Millions of people worldwide are at danger of acquiring lung cancer, cardiovascular illness, respiratory diseases, and mental health issues because of air pollution.
Q2: What are some solutions to combat air pollution?
There can be many solutions to combat air pollution, Some solutions include the use of renewable energy, sustainable choices-sustainable fashion, eco-friendly urban planning, agricultural biotechnology, and public awareness campaigns about clean air.
Q3: How can individuals contribute to improving air quality?
People may advocate for renewable energy, reduce emissions, focus on mindful choices and disseminate information about the risks that air pollution poses to human health.
Together, we must battle for clean air in order to protect the ecosystem and our health. Participate in the drive for a greener, healthier tomorrow. Become eco-conscious. Join the Upcycleluxe movement today!