Air pollution is not just a local or national problem, but a problem for the entire planet Earth. That is why the United Nations General Assembly has declared 07 September as the International Day for Clean Air and Blue Skies to encourage people worldwide to improve air pollution.
Globalisation and the industrial revolution have brought many positive changes for people. Still, dramatic consequences for our planet. Our environment and many ecosystems are heavily polluted by all kinds of contaminants. People are destroying the earth more and more every day, not thinking at all that this is our only earth.
The times when climate and environmental protection were always clearly on the “good” side are over. In the real-life implementation, alternative energies collide with nature conservation and species protection, as, e.g. in the case of off-shore wind farms. The discussion about “clean” nuclear energy is also difficult. In general, this means that one must take a closer look, weigh up the (long-term) impacts and evaluate the planned measures accordingly in a comprehensive manner.
There are also side aspects to consider regarding air quality measurement. It is almost a paradox when air quality is measured by driving vehicles through the city. If the car has an electric drive, this has, at best, a NO2-reducing effect. The fine dust pollution from brake and tyre abrasion remains. And the environmental problems associated with the production of the necessary car batteries are widely known.
A very topical issue at the moment is energy supply and energy consumption. There are also substantial differences in energy consumption of air quality measurements. The containers that operate the public measurements have an annual energy demand of 3,500 kWh to more than 11,000 kWh, depending on the equipment. This means that even the more economical measuring stations consume more than a typical 2-person household.
With the Hawa Dawa measuring devices, the energy-consuming conditioning of the air before measuring is taken over by a calibration algorithm through the innovative use of artificial intelligence. This means that the annual energy consumption of our measuring devices is at the level of a standard household freezer – i.e. a fraction of the energy that has to be provided for a measuring station.
We have been talking about climate change for a long time. It is the biggest global challenge of the 21st century. Every living thing on earth, from humans to animals, is part of our ecosystem. There is clear evidence that human activities are changing the ecosystem.
This change is global, which means it affects the whole planet. However, its perpetrators are far from evenly distributed across the planet. The USA alone is responsible for more than 25% of global CO2 emissions on our planet. The majority is, therefore, the responsibility of the industrialised countries. The consequences of this, however, are mainly felt by the developing and newly industrialised countries in the south. This is exactly where the value creation of the industrialised countries takes place. Suppose the industrialised nations are responsible for a large part of the pollutants emitted in the past. Should they not also be responsible for eliminating the resulting damage to people and the environment? This is the question addressed by the concept of “climate justice”.
This currently prevailing climate injustice directly results from political events – mostly of rich countries. Our prosperity and wealth were and are largely achieved at the expense of foreign resources, leading to ever more growth and consumption in the industrialised countries. In poorer countries, this, in turn, leads to more dependency. Therefore, there must be an international political dimension to the climate crisis that addresses social injustice AND climate injustice. In the course of this, rich countries must acknowledge their historical guilt and take steps to make amends.
Read more about climate justice in our wiki
“Every human being has a fundamental right of hospitality on earth – this is the core of human rights – and one third of the world’s population lives from direct access to nature”, Wolfgang Sachs
The first concept of environmental justice was created in the 1980s in the USA by civil rights groups and was aimed at socially disadvantaged groups. Social and economic equality are essential to environmental justice. In essence, environmental justice is also about issues such as racism and socio-economic injustice.
Unlike climate justice, environmental justice is about the interrelationships between the environment, health and the social situation of the people affected. Even in the industrialised world, the health burden of environmental problems is a serious problem. More and more people suffer from respiratory or skin diseases triggered or promoted by air pollution. In addition, factors such as social background, income and education can increase such exposure. Living conditions and lifestyle play a decisive role—for example, exposure to pollutants due to prevailing traffic conditions in urban areas.
Everyone has a right to clean drinking water, fresh air, etc. Governments should ensure that people get the right to a clean and healthy environment. A healthy environment is important for everyone and helps improve overall health.
However, these socio-economic factors also play a major role worldwide. In many parts of the world, people have no chance to escape these negative influences or are unaware of the exposure. Governments should take action to help people who are severely affected. We can solve this problem with clean air, drinking water, and a safe living environment. We need to create an environment where everyone has the same quality of life to create a healthy living environment.
Read more about environmental justice in our wiki
One of the most urgent aspects of climate action is environmental justice. At the ChangeNOW event in Paris, an entire session was dedicated to the fact that the people, who have the least impact on climate change, are the ones who are impacted the most – as the moderator, Lovelda Vincenzi, put it. The panel‘s discussion was around that the climate urgency is a global crisis, but its effects are not felt evenly around the world. The least polluting populations are the worst affected by climate change. International changemakers and political leaders must protect the rights of the most vulnerable and ensure the burdens of climate change are shared equally and fairly.
We see pictures of emaciated polar bears every day and pity their fate – they are a living example of the sad reality in the Arctic. Yes, we pity them, but we often don’t realise that the melting of Arctic ice is just as damaging to us as it is to them.
Nature can be imagined like a human body. It is an arbitrarily complex system – everything is interconnected and in constant exchange. If one variable gets out of balance, the whole system can collapse. This is also the case with our oceans, the largest ecosystem covering over 70% of our planet.
We have already reported on tipping points and their properties in a previous blog post. What they are and what significance they already have for our environment. Since we would like to report in more detail about tipping points, we are dedicating a separate series to this topic – “Tipping Points in Detail”. In the first blog post of the 3-part series, we would like to bring you a little closer to the topic of the Amazon Rainforest. In the second part, we will talk about ocean currents and their importance for the animal and plant world and the effects on us humans. In the third and last part of our series, we will highlight the ice melt at the polar ice caps and some local glaciers.
This year’s „Earth Day“, officially named „Mother Earth Day“, is the first one celebrated within the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet – and its people. Restoring our damaged ecosystems will help end poverty, combat climate change and prevent mass extinction. But we will only succeed if everyone plays a part.
We will share a couple of initiatives that try to activate all of us by using new approaches. Read more
For 52 years, Earth Day has been celebrated on 22 April in over 190 countries. The aim of the day is to raise people’s awareness of the importance of the Earth and the ecosystem and the consequences of environmental degradation in all its facets. People should rethink their own behaviour and question their everyday conduct.