Air pollution is one of those things that needs to be tackled on a global level as well as the individual level. Air quality impacts the health of everyone living on this planet. The smog in foreign cities may seem far away but with weather currents and environmental damage, they’re less a local problem and more a global one.
In a 2014 report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that air pollution contributes to seven million premature deaths each year.
Economies are reliant upon manufacturing. Factories contribute to more than water pollution. Particularly in developing countries, factories contribute to air pollution. This air pollution then impacts the health of not just the workers, but people living nearby.
Check the air quality in your local area with the Airly – air quality map.
There needs to be a balance between economic health, environmental health and human health. If the factories go bust because they can’t reach the UN clean air demands, the workers will be unemployed. Possibly with little chance of seeking employment elsewhere, which isn’t good for overall health either. The factories wouldn’t exist unless there’s a demand for items from consumer-based societies. Shipping the items to where they are wanted also impacts air quality.
As an individual, how much do you need the latest mobile phone when the previous model still works? How many miles did it travel to reach you? What sort of factory was it made in? What are the emissions on that one phone?
The UN urges local governments to take action to improve air quality and make data on air quality more accessible. This can allow local people to know if it is safe to venture out and demand better practices from their employers. Local governments need to establish emissions standards. Countries the world over need to cooperate with the UN to reduce air pollution for the sake of everyone’s health and the health of the local environment. Animals and plants are affected by air pollution too.
Air pollution contributes to climate change with high carbon dioxide emissions. Burning fossil fuels causes this. Countries are being encouraged to switch to renewable sources of fuel, such as wind farms and solar energy. Even cars are getting in on the renewable energy action with hybrid and electric cars becoming more popular amongst consumers as the technology to run them advances.
Air pollution is everyone’s problem. For the individual, it increases the risk of strokes, chronic respiratory diseases and lung cancer, amongst other conditions. For the world, it contributes to global warming, which has lasting effects on plants and animals as well as increasing extreme weather events.
It is in everyone’s interest to confront the problem and attack it with workable solutions. But it isn’t so easy with economies dependent upon manufacturing, consumers demanding goods for cheap and air miles and everything else that goes on in global trade.