Urban air quality has been deteriorating for some time but in recent years the pace to disaster has risen. Poor air quality is the difference between breathing comfortably and a simple flu turning into bronchitis or pneumonia. This is growing into a global crisis that’s a heavily complicated geopolitical issue. Which historically hasn’t boded well. Nonetheless, air quality is indiscriminate and a great equalizer. Air quality can be a crippling issue if not addressed. It’ll disrupt our ecosystems, food supplies, quality of life, and the flow of life.
Pollution underpins the issue which brings in a whole host of different interests stagnating any progress. We, millennials get a bad rap at times, but the reality is, we’re going to be the ones holding the standing up when the music stops. But we are competitive, practical, scrupulous and tech-savvy. We’re also saddled with student debt, but that’s for another post.
One issue at a time.
So what’s smog actually going to do to you?
- Asthma — With the increase of pollutants in the air, symptoms of asthma are also sure to increase and worsen the condition of those already afflicted. Environmental allergens are one of the primary reasons cause significant irritation with one’s respiratory system and overall make breathing an even more difficult process.
- Heart Disorders — In the United States of America, two people in every 80 seconds die because of cardiovascular diseases alone. Smoking, high blood pressure, and cholesterol are said to be amongst the major reasons. And air pollution exacerbates all of those.
- Brain Health — Studies have shown how air pollution can damage the brains development in kids. In adults, effects can lead to degenerative disorders like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
- Birth Defects — Air pollution is also responsible for causing birth-related disorders. Unborn babies are exposed to infected air through their mothers which destroys their immune system and exhibit several defects after birth.
- Premature Deaths — Poisonous air pollutants present in the environment expose us to a high risk of premature death. And millions of people are affected every year worldwide!
Yes, our anti-environmental economically-focused approach has led to air pollution in the US, India and other areas, while ironically improving the quality of life for so many around the world. Though that trade-off isn’t relevant for all.
One such example is migrant workers in Mongolia. Insanely cold winters coupled with migrant worker dwellings (and therefore temporary utilities) in select areas around Mongolia have created live or die scenarios. To deal with the cold lower to middle-income peoples have had to burn millions of tons of raw coal to stay warm. And sadly because most homes do not have proper ventilation, be them migrants or not, the coal they’re burning for warmth they’re also breathing in. Here’s the NY Times article where we first came across the situation in Mongolia.
So what can be done?
Isn’t that the trillion dollar question? There are possible solutions everywhere, but this is a problem, we as people are going to need to combat together in solidarity. The governments, other authorities and every citizen need to do their part, make their own progress. Addressing such global issues isn’t the responsibility of one, it’s the responsibility of all. in the hands of one. To combat the problem, we need stringent efforts to create a liveable and sustainable environment.
In our globally interconnected world, nothing is done in isolation anymore, there are contingencies and externalities everywhere, therefore responsibilities must be shared. Support cleaner transport systems. Resort to more energy-efficient housing. Power generation must be appropriately handled. Waste management needs to be on par.
We are already in a dire situation, but it’s never too late. If we want to breathe in the future, we need to breathe now.
Controlled and deep breathing is one of the easiest ways to dramatically improve our health that you can anywhere, at any time, inexpensively – aka #free! – and with little effort. Like anything else, like Nike says, Just Do it.