CLIMATE CHANGE AND AIR POLLUTION: HOW THIS POWER COUPLE IS KILLING US

Published by Amna on 15th Jan 2020

Two of the main environmental problems of this planet are climate change and air pollution

Air pollution can impact climate change on the contrary climate change can impact air pollution so by reducing air pollution we also protect the climate. 

Both problems have the same origin: the current energy model. 

Climate change and air pollution worsened due to the burning of fossil fuels which increases the concentration of carbon dioxide in turn causing global warming. 

Other pollutants like nitrous oxide, sulfur oxide, and particulate matter generation contribute to air pollution.

Not only this, climate change and air pollution also impact each other in the atmosphere due to their complex interactions. 

A higher concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere alters the energy balance of the atmosphere and earth’s surface which in turn changes the earth's temperature and chemical composition of the earth. 

This energy balance also gets affected by the direct release of other air pollutants like black carbon and those formed from the emission of ozone and sulfates.


Harmful Effects of Climate Change and Air Pollution

Another common characteristic of climate change and air pollution is the serious impact on society and human health.

Climate change causes droughts, deforestation, wildfires, flooding, and extinction of animals and plant species resulting in the famine and spread of disease

A large extent of wildfires by climate change reduces the air quality which in turn affects the health of humans in many ways. 

Exposure to more smoke in humans results in acute and chronic respiratory problems and lung illness. 

With passing time, the frequency of wildfires is expected to become worse due to the drought prevalence.

We already know the health problems of air pollution such as lung illness and kidney failure. 


Now a lot more studies show that in future other health problems like osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases can also be linked with air pollution (https://www.activesustainability.com/climate-change/link-between-climate-change-air-pollution/).

Climate change has also increased the exposure to allergens in the population, especially those with sensitive systems. Now, when simultaneously exposed to allergens and air pollutants their allergies often become worse and reduce their quality of life.


Well, What Can Be Done?

Both problems share common solutions i.e. the implantation of a clean energy model. 

It is more sustainable, cost-effective, and political leverage if we tackle both problems together. 

Efficient use of energy resources, combustion of renewable energy resources, use of electrical vehicles, less consumption of resources, and application of convention and agreements are some measures through which we can reduce the emission of air pollutants in the environment that raises the temperature of the earth and makes environment polluted.


Research and Conventions on Climate Change and Air Pollution

Convention Gothenburg protocol is the first legally binding agreement of an integrated approach that tackles both problems by cutting the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants such as ground-level ozone and black carbon.

Paris Agreement is another example in this context. 

In Paris Agreement it is agreed by 195 countries to keep the temperature of the world from increasing below 2℃ compared to the pre-industrial level and continue efforts to limit it to 1.5℃. 

So in order to achieve this objective, it is necessary to cut the emission of greenhouse gases and establish national targets to combat climate change.

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