Working with a think tank’s air pollution and climate change projects as a communication and policy engagement, I learnt two things. One, the impending environmental crisis has greater impacts than I thought. And two, it’s not too late to curb the issue with the right policies and control measures.
Anyone with a regular school education has been put through a regular environmental science curriculum. We have general information about air pollution, its effects, the climate crisis, and the control measures to tackle these issues. However, we do not actively exercise these measures unless we experience a strong first-hand impact.
Not to throw around statistical data, but data is a scientific element that gives form to the environmental crisis, and data interpretation is the factor stating the urgency to find a solution. As per reports from 2021, air pollution has contributed to over 6.67 million deaths worldwide, it has been called the ‘third leading risk factor of mortality ‘. These numbers and figures measure the gravity and reality of the problems we are facing.
As a communication and policy engagement intern, I went through many reports written by scientists studying environmental issues. Then, I had to do my own research digging and write blogs based on air pollution and climate change. Apart from sharpening my writing skills, this work brought out a major change. It pushed me to become aware and think about the environment every time I step outdoors. There were days when I wore a mask not to prevent coronavirus but to save myself from the horrors of air pollution. I couldn’t stop thinking about the disastrous impact of air pollution on human health. The health risks include chronic heart diseases, stroke, respiratory infections, lung cancer, and diabetes. Such health impacts are enough to illustrate the seriousness of the problem.
The scientific approach toward tackling air pollution and climate change has evolved with the advancement of technology. Scientists have come up with ways to organise, analyse and interpret data in efficient and accurate ways. As sources get identified, measures can be taken to curb the emission of pollutants. However, this is not just a change that needs to bring out at policies and national or international level. It starts with one person, one individual.
Consider the air pollution caused by the transport and communication sector in India. There are 30 cities in India with a population distribution of 100 people per hectare. 3Almost 30 percent of these houses own a vehicle. And all these vehicles are collectively contributing significantly to the overall air pollution in the country. Just as one vote counts, a control measure taken by one citizen also counts. Science has renewed our hope in solving an environmental crisis, it’s time to act and curb it before it gets worse.