New Era of Air Pollution Approaches, even as 180,000 People Die from Present Era
A new study on air pollution recently got published. But does it foretell the future in any way? Read to find out.
A new era of air pollution faces some of us, according to a new report, and it could leave devastation in its wake. Already, South East Asia reels from air pollution. Bangkok suffers from air degradation. Hanoi suffers from the same fate, with a worsening case in its air quality. Ho Chi Minh City experiences the problem, its residents exposed to increases in air pollutants hazardous to health, with many suffering from avoidable deaths. South East Asian cities such as Jakarta, Manila, Phnom Penh, and Yangon witness a combination of a decline in air quality and urban exposure to air pollutants and avoidable deaths, all leaving devastation in their wake.
The same fate affects future mega-cities in South Asia. People die in Mumbai as a result of air pollution. People lose their life in Dhaka, with the new study putting the figure at 24,000 people. Men and women and children experience avoidable deaths in Bangalore and Kolkata and Hyderabad, victims of the degradation in air quality, a consequence of an annual increase in pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, fine particles and ammonia.
Air pollution in Africa,Credit: Stockholm Environment Institute
However, people haven’t started suffering from the problem in Africa with the same intensity. According to the study, air pollution creates fewer problems due to recent improvements in the health care system. Residents of Abidjan, Addis Ababa, Antananarivo, and Bamako haven’t started losing their lives with the same scale as people in Jakarta and Dhaka because fewer air pollution exists there, because fewer air degradation exists there, because fewer exposure to air pollutants takes place. Residents in the coastal areas of Nigeria survive through the improved health care system and less air pollution and fewer incidences of air degradation and so the problem spares cities like Lagos and Benin City and Warri with less intensity.
But the good news stops here. According to experts, a new era of air pollution faces South East Asia. A new era of air degradation faces South Asia, with even greater increases in air pollutants hazardous to health happening. A new era faces coastal areas of Nigeria, according to space-based observations from instruments on-board NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) satellites and experts watching developments in this part of the world. A new era approaches these places, and even greater increases in pollutants and elements hazardous to health and air degradation will take place, so it’s no wonder why the good news stops here.
Air pollution in Asia, Credit: Financial Times
Previously, air pollution in South East Asia came largely from the open burning of biomass. It arrived South Asia largely through land clearance for residential buildings, for agricultural purposes, for road construction. It arrived in the coastal areas of Nigeria through the burning of bushes and forests and fields in the post-harvest season for fertilization, land management, and pest control, and through the burning of solid fuels such as charcoal and wood for cooking in open fires and leaky stoves. In the new era, air pollution in these parts of the world will come as a result of increased industrialization and rapid economic development and exploding population, and the issue of air pollution won’t be merely as a result of the open burning of biomass.
Not that people in South East Asia have been unconcerned about air pollution – they have. Not that people in Ahmadabad and Karachi and Mumbai and Chittagong haven’t thought about air pollution or climate change or air degradation or reduced air quality. They have. Not that people in the coastal areas of Nigeria haven’t wondered about the effects of burning bushes and fields and forests – they have. But they’ll be forced to wonder more when the new era of air pollution, along with features different from the features of the past, come upon them, and it’ll appear as though they haven’t been wondering about climate change and other factors related to it.
Lagos, Credit: Los Angeles Times
The new era of air pollution comes with overpopulation. In the 60s, about 47 million people occupied the landmass of Nigeria, and air pollution came in a mild way. In today’s world, about 200 million people live in Nigeria, and air pollution comes in a harsh manner, with a significant number of deaths recorded each year. By 2050, according to estimates, the population of Nigeria could rise to over 400 million, with the air pollution coming in a devastating manner, while industrial activities lower air quality.
Apart from overpopulation, the new era comes with urbanization. Since experts predict an accelerated population growth, it means rapid urbanization in South Asia. It means unprecedented population expansion in South East Asia, with mega-cities like Manila exploding with a teeming mass of humanity. It means rapid population explosion in parts of Africa, as cities like Lubumbashi and Mombasa and Ibadan teem with people, increasing the quantity of nitrogen dioxide and fine particles in the air, with the burning of biomass and bushes and forests set to rise.
Apart from urbanization, the new era arrives with emerging industries. In other words, if these places don’t adopt renewable energy to power their activities, fossil fuel usage will rise. If South East Asia ignores a green lifestyle, road traffic will increase, allowing volatile organisms to grow. If the present tradition in Africa of not caring about climate change persists, waste burning and a widespread use of fuel wood will continue, bringing even greater increases in urban exposure to hazardous gases, which already pose dangers to 40 out of the 46 tropical cities through nitrogen dioxide pollution.
Dhaka, Credit, Business insider
In the Science Daily study, 180,000 excess death resulted over the present-day air pollution in the 46 future mega-cities in Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, and the Middle East. A city like Dhaka clocked 24,000 deaths. Indian cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and the others recorded a total of 100,000 deaths, all due to the degradation of air quality. With the new era of air pollution arriving through urbanization and overpopulation and the rise in the use of fossil fuel, tropical cities could experience rates of degradation in a year than other cities experience in a decade.
Pollution in Mpumalanga, Credit: All Africa.com
The situation in the coastal areas of Nigeria creates apprehension. The situation in Africa, with increases of 57 percent in air pollution deaths in less than three decades, gives a cause for concern. The situation with South Africa, which has one of the deadliest air pollution spot in the Eastern province of Mpumalanga, makes many to panic, especially with the coal-fired power stations, the processing plants, and factories releasing nitrogen dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere.
With the new era in air pollution, Africa, including the coastal areas of Nigeria, stands to lose. Already, Africa loses billions of dollars in gross domestic product over the issue yearly. It lost over $215 billion annually between 1990 and 2017, through deaths from outdoor air pollution. It could lose even more billions of dollars yearly in the new era, as air pollution and degrading air quality and hazardous gases take a serious toll on the economy and health care, especially as experts predict an additional 1.3 billion people are set to occupy the continent by 2050. In short, during the new era of air pollution in places like the coastal areas of Nigeria, costs related to air pollution could so take an economic toll on people, could so take a political toll, could so take an environmental tool, that the increasing number of premature deaths isn’t the only thing Africans stand to lose.
Consequently, South Asia must put policies into place. South East Asia must put renewable energy in its policies, to prevent Bangkok and Jakarta and Yangon and other cities from witnessing a catastrophic decline in air quality. Africa, including the coastal areas of Nigeria, must think about utilizing green technology in urban construction, because if it thinks and puts policies into place and expands the use of renewable energy, it won’t be overwhelmed by the extra billions of people set to occupy the continent in the next few years.
Also, South Asia should focus on partnership. The same thing with South East Asia, in order to build sustainable societies. Africa should also toe the same line, especially as the cost of engaging companies towards key technologies falls by the moment, with the technologies themselves becoming numerous. As for cities in the coastal areas of Nigeria, they should not only embrace green technologies, they should also aim at building sustainable societies, and the best way to do this comes by forging partnerships.
Finally, as the new era of air pollution faces tropical cities of the world, international agreements should ensure governments take responsibility for carbon emission rates. They should hold institutions accountable for unsustainable use of fossil fuel, especially when Big Oil companies seek to exploit natural resources and markets. The coastal areas of Nigeria should hold Big Oil companies responsible for the rampant utilization of fossil fuel and irresponsible carbon rates, or the resulting degradation in air quality will leave devastation in its wake.
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