Climate change, according to a list published by the World Health Organization (WHO), features as one of the top 10 global threats in 2019. The list also mentions that air pollution is the “greatest environmental risk to health,” and nine out of ten people breathe in this poisonous air every day.
“Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, killing 7 million people prematurely every year from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease.
Around 90 per cent of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries, with high volumes of emissions from industry, transport and agriculture, as well as dirty cookstoves and fuels in homes,” the report stated.
The same report enumerates on the causes of air pollution and lists burning fossil fuels as a major contributor. It says that burning the fossil fuels affects the health of people in varied ways. “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250.000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress,” the report states.
In 2018 when WHO held its first ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health in Geneva in October, several countries and organisations had pledged to better the air quality.
“This year, the United Nations Climate Summit in September will aim to strengthen climate action and ambition worldwide. Even if all the commitments made by countries for the Paris Agreement are achieved, the world is still on a course to warm by more than 3°C this century,” the report concluded.