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Air Pollution and Climate Change: Two Sides of the Same Coin

  • Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder
  • 8th September, 2022 08:27:19 PM
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What is your aim in life? To such a question, school children easily answer to become doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, bankers or businessmen. But in today's era of global warming, the mindset of working to protect the environment or thinking about issues like climate change does not move much in the minds of our students. Well, have we ever thought deeply about what are the limitations that lie ahead in realising our life goals? We think and believe that social or economic issues are our biggest limitations. But the reality is that the environmental degradation of the present world and the level of pollution in the developing countries are one of the main obstacles to reaching our goal. We may not think much that one of the causes of social and economic degradation is today's environmental pollution.

Climate change is one of the two most discussed issues in today's world, the other is air pollution. Many people may think that there is actually no connection between these two things. But in reality, there is a correlation between air pollution and climate change. Air pollution is accelerating the trend of climate change. Again, the trend of global warming is also playing a role in increasing air pollution. Air pollution and climate change are constantly affecting each other through complex interactions in the atmosphere. We know that it is not possible to find a planet with such a habitable atmosphere as Earth, but we are constantly polluting this atmosphere in order to achieve our temporary luxuries and unlimited profits. As a result, our climate is changing.

Changes may have begun to come to keep pace with the era, and one of the biggest examples of this is Greta Thunberg, an environmentally-conscious girl from Sweden. The 16-year-old took a stand alone in front of Sweden's parliament for climate change. Later, students from 185 countries of the world took to the streets to express solidarity with him, against climate change. With the slogan 'We Want Climate Justice', they took to the streets and displayed processions and protest placards. Through these activities, they want to send a message to the world that now is the right time to take effective measures to prevent climate change. Climate change awareness has to start from primary school, with inspiration from a young age children will be able to be mentally prepared to deal with climate change. Such movements for climate change inspire people of different ages around the world, from school children to young children.

Now let's come to the main words, like other developing countries of the world, Bangladesh is also affected by pollution. Especially in the winter season, the horrors of pollution become severe in our country. Pedestrians and students are often seen walking with masks on their faces. At present, we are all suffering from various problems, including air pollution. Air pollution and climate change are two sides of the same coin. Air pollution and climate change are closely linked to each other. The combustion of fossil fuels and industrial smoke emits large amounts of black carbon, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluoro carbon and Ozone, also known as greenhouse gases. Among these pollutants, black carbon, carbon dioxide and methane are called Short Live Climate Pollution (SLCPs) or short-life climate pollutants. As a result of the continuous use of fossil fuels or petroleum fuels, the levels of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases have increased significantly. In this case, these greenhouse gases are being mixed in the air from vehicle combustion, brick kilns, open garbage burning or other sources. These factors are responsible for air pollution, as well as for climate change. These gases retain the heat coming from the sun. Again, this greenhouse gas prevents the earth from cooling down by radiating heat. Therefore, the earth is getting warmer and warmer with time. As a result of climate change, natural disasters like cyclones, dust storms, increased salinity, droughts and extreme rains, floods, etc. are increasing.

According to a 2014 World Bank study, Bangladesh emits 0.46 metric tons of carbon per capita every year. The Global Climate Risk Index 2017 ranks Bangladesh ninth in terms of the damage caused by climate change. Climate change is affecting health, environment and nature, changing the activities of the environment. Health problems are closely linked to air pollution and climate change. Malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria, dengue, etc. are taking a terrible form mainly due to climate change. Rainfall is changing as the temperature of the atmosphere rises. As a result, various health problems such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases are occurring in different parts of the world. Older people, pregnant women and children are more vulnerable to this. Climate change causes various water-borne diseases and infectious diseases. Mosquito-borne malaria and dengue are spreading rapidly all over the world, the ill-effects of which Bangladesh got in 2019. According to the World Health Organization's observations, bacterial infections caused by climate change are directly related to epidemics. Apart from this, due to air pollution, burning the nose and mouth, dizziness, headache, nausea, etc., complex diseases like lung cancer, asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, birth defects, heart attack, liver problems and pneumonia are seen.

Climate change will increase further in the future if an effective role is not taken to prevent air pollution in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Low-lying areas like Bangladesh are likely to be lost soon due to climate change and the rising sea levels. We can all work directly and indirectly to prevent air pollution and against climate change. The student who wants to become a teacher should try to create social and human values to protect the environment. The student who wants to become an engineer should invent technology through his innovative knowledge, which will prevent environmental pollution. The student who wants to become an entrepreneur should conduct business activities in such a way that it is eco-friendly and does not think about his personal interests, thinks about the country and incorporates all the eco-friendly technologies in his business organisation. The student who wants to become a lawyer should try to implement the law properly to protect the environment. It should be remembered that air pollution, climate change and health problems are local, regional and global issues at the same time because 'nature' is associated with the whole world. Therefore, in order to achieve sustainable development, wherever we are, no matter where we are, whatever situation we are in, everyone, big and small, youth and senior will have to come forward with sincerity inspired by our patriotism.

The writer is a Professor and the Head of the Department of Environmental Sciences, Stamford University Bangladesh and Joint Secretary, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan

Source: Sun Editorial