Air Pollution the Cause of 3.3 Million Deaths

by rtharby on Octobre 8, 2016 - 10:31pm

In the article “Shock figures to reveal deadly toll of global air pollution” the Guardian reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a health warning about deadly levels of air pollution.The high levels of smog are appearing in cities with high population growth, and is created by mix of transport fumes, construction dust, toxic gases from power generation and wood burning in homes. The data was taken from a sample of 2,000 cities reveals that millions are at risk for chronic diseases such as; pneumonia, asthma, blood and cardiovascular diseases, and even dementia. The main actors in this issue are local and federal governments, highly industrialized corporations and businesses, WHO, and individuals who use GHG emitting vehicles regularly. The article reveals that according to the UN, 3.3 million premature deaths occur every year from air pollution, with China having the most deaths at 1.4 million premature deaths.

My initial reaction to this article was to think about our lecture on the state controlling resource management. Economic growth has always been a priority for countries, environmental quality is always a second thought. Resource management is a part of what creates and maintains a state and unfortunately, these states have been neglecting their air quality resource and now millions are paying the price with their health. However, human and natural environment relations are very complex. It is difficult to predict the consequences of our actions, but the ramifications of severe air pollution are extreme in political, environmental, economic, and social spheres.

My opinion on this article is that it is very anthropocentric. One of the main concerns addressed in this article was about whether or not the Heathrow airport would be expanded based on the amount of air pollution. The only concerns mentioned were directly related to how this pollution would affect humans. Not once was there mention of how severe air pollution will affect wildlife in surrounding areas, or what the implications of acid rain will be. The article also focused on how much this public health emergency will cost. Maria Neira (Head of Public Health at WHO) discusses the health risks and states “these are chronic diseases that require hospital beds. The cost will be enormous.” Pollution has many more implications than just what it will cost the government to care for its ailing citizens. Acid rain damages trees and can cause water and soil to become acidic, killing the wildlife that rely on these resources. In cities near bodies of water, eutrophication is a big concern as it can cause algae blooms, which can kill fish and results in loss of plant and animal diversity. The article does a good job of focusing on the effects on humans, but unfortunately there is a lot more at stake than just hospital bed costs and delayed airport expansions.