For an expanse of blue, with air so clean

Source: The post is based on the article “For an expanse of blue, with air so clean” published in “The Hindu” on 7th September 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment – Air pollution

News: The article discusses the severe air pollution crisis, its health impacts, especially in Delhi. It highlights global efforts to combat air pollution crisis, and emphasizes the need for action and global attention to ensure clean air for all.

What’s the situation on air pollution?

Global Situation on Air Pollution:

The earth has entered what the UN Secretary-General calls the “era of global boiling”, emphasizing the urgent challenges of climate change.

Lung cancer deaths reached 10 million globally in 2020 (According to WHO) and could increase by 3.2 million by 2050 (according to Indian National Institute of Health).

India’s Situation on Air Pollution (with a focus on Delhi):

South Asia hosts nine of the world’s 10 most polluted cities; Delhi is a prime example.

Delhi’s air contains high levels of harmful pollutants like SO2, NOX, and particulate matter.

In 2019, air pollution was linked to 1.67 million deaths in India, making up 17.8% of total deaths.

What are the health impacts of air pollution?

Lung Cancer: 10 million deaths worldwide in 2020 were attributed to lung cancer, and this number could increase by 3.2 million by 2050.

Respiratory Ailments: Delhi’s polluted air, laden with pollutants like SO2, NOX, and high particulate matter, affects breathing and exacerbates respiratory conditions.

Cardiovascular Disorders: Polluted air increases the risk of heart diseases due to the inhalation of harmful particles.

Mental Health Issues: Air pollution has been linked to adverse mental health outcomes due to environmental stressors.

Vulnerable Groups at Risk: The air pollution toll is especially high for immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, children, and the elderly.

Staggering Death Rate: In 2019, 1.67 million deaths in India, which is 17.8% of the total deaths, were related to air pollution, highlighting the dire consequences on health.

What measures are being taken to combat the air pollution crisis?

Global Efforts to Combat Air Pollution:

Cities like Ljubljana, Accra, Seville, Bogota, and Medellin are adopting car-free zones, green spaces, and electrified public transportation.

China is transitioning to clean energy and e-mobility.

Indonesia launched a ‘Carbon Efficient Farming’ project to assess biomass and reduce CO2 emissions.

Thailand and Vietnam have initiated measures to decrease open straw burning.

UNESCO introduced a carbon tax on flights and is investing in emission reduction.

The World Air Quality Project provides real-time air quality data to residents.

The “Virtual Meetings” project, in collaboration with UNEP, promotes environmentally conscious digital work.

India’s Efforts to Combat Air Pollution:

The PUSA Decomposer, created by IARI, uses biotechnology to address agricultural pollution.

GRAP 3 (Graded Rapid Action Plan) is a state-level policy monitoring air quality in hotspots.

Green War Rooms have been established for a focused approach.

Innovative startups are transforming agricultural waste into useful products, reducing open field burning.

What should be done?

Acknowledge the Problem: Recognize the severe impacts of air pollution, as 10 million global deaths were due to lung cancer in 2020.

Implementation: Best practices for combating air pollution need to be effectively applied, not just discussed.

Learn from Successful Cities: Adopt methods from cities like Ljubljana and Bogota that have prioritized health and environment.

Prioritize Health: With 1.67 million deaths in India linked to pollution in 2019, health-focused policies are essential.

Innovative Solutions: Support startups converting agricultural waste into valuable products, reducing sources of pollution.

Global Collaboration: While UNESCO and UNEP have taken steps, a global cohesive effort is crucial.

Public Awareness: Educate the public on the importance of clean air and their role in the solution.

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