Air pollution - the biggest threat

The rapid warming of the Earth is the “biggest threat” to human health and the consequences of this situation will be irreversible, if the world does not act urgently.

Air pollution has become a global problem, affecting many countries.
Air pollution has become a global problem, affecting many countries.

That is the warning more than 200 of the world's leading medical journals have issued in an unprecedented joint statement.

In the joint statement, the scientists pointed out the close link between climate change, the environment and human health, with the most vulnerable groups being the elderly and children. According to statistics, the number of people over 65 years old dying from heat waves has increased by more than 50% in the past 20 years, while more and more young children are suffering from asthma due to poor air quality.

Global warming is causing disease-carrying insects that used to live only in tropical regions to migrate and carry the risk of disease further away. Scientists said countries that have spent huge budgets to prevent COVID-19 also need to make similar efforts to respond to climate change and protect the environment.

In fact, countries are currently not prioritising enough necessary resources to respond to climate change and improve the living environment. According to the Clean Air Fund, the investment in fossil fuel projects around the world is still larger than the budget for clean air projects. The spending of less than 1% of countries' development funds on air-cleaning projects is still too modest, compared with the consequences of air pollution caused by fossil fuel use.

According to the United Nations, air pollution is the cause of at least 7 million deaths each year; and 9 out of 10 people in the world are breathing harmful air. The lifetime cost to society, the environment and the economy of plastic produced in 2019 alone has been revealed at US$3.7 trillion, more than the GDP of India according to a new report by Dalberg commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

With about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste thrown out each year, the earth will soon be submerged. If drastic action is not taken soon, by 2050, there will be more plastic waste in the oceans than fish. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus warned that the risk from climate change could far outweigh the risk from any disease.

Thanks to vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic may be over for now, but so far there is no “vaccine” for the climate crisis. The consequences of climate change are now at a critical stage, the world must not neglect the task of protecting the environment.