This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Don't Breathe That Air! It Could Kill You!

Last November there was a UN-sponsored conference in Durban, South Africa, aimed at finding solutions to the increasingly serious problems of environmental pollution and climate change. The dangers of the air we breath were brought home again this week by a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based think tank. The Guardian reported on the story.

Urban air pollution is set to become the biggest environmental cause of premature death in the coming decades, overtaking even such mass killers as poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water, according to a new report.
Both developed and developing countries will be hit, and by 2050, there could be 3.6 million premature deaths a year from exposure to particulate matter, most of them in China and India. But rich countries will suffer worse effects from exposure to ground-level ozone, because of their ageing populations – older people are more susceptible.
The warning comes in a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is a study of the global environmental outlook until 2050. The report found four key areas that are of most concern – climate change, loss of biodiversity, water and the health impacts of pollution.
If current policies are allowed to carry on, the world will far exceed the levels of greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are safe, the report found. "I call it the surrender scenario – where we would be if governments do nothing more than what they have pledged already?" said Simon Upton, environment director at the OECD. "But it could be even worse than that, we've found."
It is almost stunning to think about the current scenario in which we are trying desperately to save children from early death due to malaria, poor sanitation, and bad water, only to have those efforts wiped out by the particulates in the air. If children are the future, then governments need to get on board to do whatever can be done (and the OECD report offers policy recommendations) to turn this pollution tide.

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