Global pollution: Death is in the air
Just as the UN published figures that global access to clean water has improved, already surpassing their goals set for 2015, a new OECD report predicts that air pollution is set to become the leading environmental cause of premature death.
So the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose raison d’être is economic growth, is warning that industrialization, which has worked hand in glove with economic growth and market-based economics, is killing more and more people by polluting the air.
Previous UN figures showed that as the Global population increases, more urbanization occurs and the proportion of urban inhabitants without access to clean water and proper sanitation goes up.
Now according to the UN and the WHO:
[…] 89% of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, had access to safe water sources at the end of 2010 – 1% more than the goal of 88% set by world leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, the report said. (source: The Independent)
So is it just for urban inhabitants that safe water conditions are decreasing? The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that ‘two-thirds of the world’s population could be facing shortages’ within the next 15 years.
So… two UN studies don’t quite square up regarding global access to clean water.
And it’s not just coal-mad China and India who are going to feel the effects of air pollution. The developed world will also see more deaths due to poor air quality and an aging population.
Both developed and developing countries will be hit, and by 2050, there could be 3.6 million premature deaths a year from exposure to particulate matter, most of them in China and India. But rich countries will suffer worse effects from exposure to ground-level ozone, because of their ageing populations – older people are more susceptible.
The OECD report detailed threats from climate change, biodiversity loss, water and the health impacts of pollution. The projected results – based on how things are going in terms of economic development, energy regulations and policies, and even so-called green energy projects like biofuels, which strain biodiversity and water usage – don’t look good.
Read more in the Guardian.