Scientists at Vatican conference are searching for a solution to the manmade ‘major extinction event’

One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken. That is the stark view of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists who will gather on Monday to determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere.
“The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinctionconference held at the Vatican this week.
Threatened creatures such as the tiger or rhino may make occasional headlines, but little attention is paid to the eradication of most other life forms, they argue. But as the conference will hear, these animals and plants provide us with our food and medicine. They purify our water and air while also absorbing carbon emissions from our cars and factories, regenerating soil, and providing us with aesthetic inspiration.
“Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate,” said biologist Paul Ehrlich, of Stanford University in California. “We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”
Monday’s meeting is one of a series set up by the Vatican on ecological issues – which Pope Francis has deemed an urgent issue for the Catholic church. “We need to unravel the processes that led to the ills we are now facing,” said one of the conference’s organisers, the economist Sir Partha Dasgupta, of Cambridge University. “That is why the Vatican symposia involve natural and social scientists, as well as scholars from the humanities. That the symposia are being held at the Papal Academy is also symbolic. It shows that the ancient hostility between science and the church, at least on the issue of preserving Earth’s services, has been quelled.”
But not everyone is happy about the meeting. The involvement of Ehrlich – who believes that wider use of birth control is needed to halt the world’s spiralling population – has been denounced by many conservative Catholics. They have set up a petition calling for the pope to withdraw the invitation for him to speak on Monday. “I believe they have about 11,000 signatures,” Ehrlich told the Observer. “The pope has not changed his mind, however.”
He remained uncompromising on population control: “If you value people, you want to have the maximum number you can support sustainably. You do not want almost 12 billion living unsustainably on Earth by the end of the century – with the result that civilisation will collapse and there are only a few hundred survivors.”
A world population of around a billion would have an overall pro-life effect, Ehrlich argued. This could be supported for many millennia and sustain many more human lives in the long term compared with our current uncontrolled growth and prospect of sudden collapse.
This point was backed by another conference organiser, biologist Professor Peter Raven, of the Missouri Botanical Garden. “By the beginning of the next century we face the prospect of losing half our wildlife. Yet we rely on the living world to sustain ourselves. It is very frightening. The extinctions we face pose an even greater threat to civilisation than climate change – for the simple reason they are irreversible.”

UN statistics suggest that the global population will increase from the current 7.4 billion to 11.2 billion by 2100. And as Dasgupta noted, most of these extra billions will appear in Africa, where the fertility rate is still twice that of the rest of the world.
“[Africa’s] population is likely to go from roughly one billion now to around 4 billion,” said Dasgupta. “Can you imagine what tensions there are going to be there, especially with climate change coming and hitting the continent more than anywhere else? What do you think is going to happen when the arid regions spread, and a hundred million Africans try to swim across the Mediterranean? It is terrifying.”
The crucial point is to put the problem of biological extinctions in a social context, he said. “That gives us a far better opportunity of working out what we need to in the near future. We have to act quickly, however.”
Ehrlich agreed: “If you look at the figures, it is clear that to support today’s world population sustainably – and I emphasise the word sustainably – you would require another half a planet to provide us with those resources. However, if everyone consumed resources at the US level – which is what the world aspires to – you will need another four or five Earths.
“We are wrecking our planet’s life support systems. We have the capacity to stop that. The trouble is that the danger does not seem obvious to most people, and that is something we must put right.”
source:the guardian

New Scheme To Boost Coffee Cup Recycling In London

A scheme to boost disposable coffee cup recycling has been launched in the City of London in an attempt to prevent 5m cups a year from the Square Mile ending up in landfill.
The City of London Corporation, in conjunction with Network Rail, coffee chains and some employers, are introducing dedicated coffee cup recycling facilities in offices, shops and streets.
Wendy Mead, chair of the corporation’s environment committee, said the aim of the Square Mile challenge was to recycle half a million cups in April, adding that the City “will be the first area in the UK to undertake such a significant commitment” to recycling.
Every day in the UK, up to 7m coffee cups are thrown away, with less than 1% of these cups (only 1 in 400 coffee cups) thought to be recycled. The main challenge to date has been the plastic film lining the paper cups, which means they are rarely recyclable.
Previous cup recycling schemes have been conducted on a much smaller scale. Gavin Ellis, co-founder of environmental charity Hubbub, said the scheme built on a much smaller pilot in Manchester, where 20,000 cups had been recycled from one street over three months: “We hope to reach a point where recycling levels for coffee cups are on a par with those for drinks cans and bottles.”

The first 30 businesses with more than 500 employees to sign up to the Square Mile challenge will receive a year’s free membership to collection services provided by Simply Cups, while all other businesses involved can access discounted rates for collections. The coffee cups collected can be remade into a range of items, from pencils to park benches, which will be donated to local community projects and schools. Insurance broker Lloyd’s has signed up.
Simply Cups is currently working with Costa, Pret a Manger and McDonald’s, collecting cups from a few of their stores on a trial basis. Last month, Costa announced it was expanding its coffee cup recycling trial scheme, collecting used cups in its 2,000 stores, which are picked up by waste management company Veolia to be recycled in a specialist plant. Meanwhile, Starbucks is trialling a fully recyclable coffee cup – the Frugalpac – which could eventually divert huge numbers of cups away from landfill.
Ministers have rejected campaigners’ calls for a charge on the 2.5bn disposable coffee cups thrown away each year because they believe coffee shop chains are already taking enough action to cut down waste. Environment minister Thérèse Coffey told the Liberal Democrats, who have urged the government to impose a 5p charge similar to that levied on plastic bags, that industry and chains were already doing enough voluntarily.

Peter Goodwin, director of Simply Cups, said: “It’s fantastic that big businesses are supporting the Square Mile challenge. Large numbers of coffee cups are binned in offices as people arrive at work or pop out for coffees throughout the day. We’d like to see responsible disposal of these become as commonplace as paper recycling schemes in offices and we hope that seeing the products that can be produced from their recycled cups will help motivate city workers to support the recycling effort.”
Can coffee cups be recycled?
Yes, but not with standard household recycling or paper recycling. Confusingly the cardboard sleeve that insulates your coffee cups and stops your hand getting burned can be recycled, and as the cardboard sleeve provided with your coffee cup often shows the recycling symbol it looks as though the coffee cup can be recycled too, but this is not the case.
Why can’t they be treated as cardboard?
Because the cups are made from both paper and a plastic film that ensures the cup is waterproof. Standard recycling processes can’t separate these materials.
How can they be recycled, then?
There are two different recycling processes that can work with coffee cups, and although currently small in scale they’re working to increase their capacity at the moment. The first shreds the whole coffee cup, processing it into a resin. This resin is mixed with recycled plastic to create a new plastic material which can be manufactured into a range of new products, from pens to park benches. The second pulps the coffee cup and separates out the paper and plastic. The recovered paper fibres are then used to make tubes and cores for products such as gravy granules.

How can I recycle my coffee cups?
Coffee shops are beginning to introduce dedicated recycling schemes within their stores, with Costa and McDonalds already offering this and others set to follow suit. Ask the coffee shop where you buy coffee what they can offer, as consumer pressure will drive uptake of recycling services by retailers.
Do I have to use a paper cup?

No. You could switch to a reusable cup. Many retailers offer a discount for bringing in your own cup so you can save money with this approach, too.

source:the guardian

Will HSBC To Cut Ties With Forest Trashing Palm Oil Companies ?

There's been a major breakthrough in protecting Indonesia's forests: HSBC has committed to breaking its links to palm oil companies destroying forests and peatlands. This is a fantastic result for everyone who has been campaigning over the last few weeks, although the hard work doesn’t stop there. The real test now is how those words will be put into practice.
HSBC’s new policy says they will no longer provide funding to companies involved in any kind of deforestation or peatland clearance, both of which were missing from previous versions. Another big step forward is insisting that all HSBC's customers must publish their own forest protection policies by the end of June.
This has come about because the pressure on HSBC has been phenomenal. Over 200,000 people around world signed a petition, which was delivered to the head offices in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Tens of thousands wrote emails directly to the CEO, and volunteers campaigned outside high street branches in Australia, France, and the UK.

It wasn't just public pressure - CEO Stuart Gulliver was grilled about our campaign in front of world leaders and other company bosses at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Now he said he agrees with everyone who's joined the campaign that forests need to be protected.
These new commitments are urgently needed. The forest fires that blight Indonesia - fuelled by irresponsible palm oil companies - are a regular health crisis, with over 100,000 premature deaths across Southeast Asia linked to the fires in 2015. And both orangutan species are now classified by scientists as critically endangered.
HSBC needs to put these promises into action right now, because recent satellite images suggest that one of its customers is preparing to destroy a massive area of forest in Papua. One of HSBC's customers - South Korean conglomerate POSCO Daewoo - has a palm oil subsidiary that controls a large area of land in Papua, and has already cleared huge areas of forest.
Images taken in mid-January show a new network of roads cut into the remaining forest, which were not there in images taken just three weeks earlier. This is a clear sign that the company is preparing to clear everything between the roads and it's a huge area - just under 4,000 hectares, which is about the same size as Luton or Cambridge.
HSBC provides services to other parts of POSCO Daewoo, not directly to the palm oil company, but if it's serious about stopping deforestation, it needs to put pressure on the parent company straight away and use its influence to get the bulldozers called off.
This will be the first of many tests for HSBC, and the real victory will come when it can show it's doing everything it can to end deforestation. And if other global banks also follow HSBC's lead, the cash flow for palm oil companies that continue to tear down forests will finally start to dry up.

source : Greenpeace

Ocean's Oxygene Depletion Threatens Fish

The depletion of oxygen in our oceans threatens future fish stocks and risks altering the habitat and behaviour of marine life, scientists have warned, after a new study found oceanic oxygen levels had fallen by 2% in 50 years.
The study, carried out at Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, was the most comprehensive of the subject to date. The fall in oxygen levels has been attributed to global warming and the authors warn that if it continues unchecked, the amount of oxygen lost could reach up to 7% by 2100. Very few marine organisms are able to adapt to low levels of oxygen.
The paper contains analysis of wide-ranging data from 1960 to 2010, documenting changes in oxygen distribution in the entire ocean for the first time. “Since large fish in particular avoid or do not survive in areas with low oxygen content, these changes can have far-reaching biological consequences,” said Dr Sunke Schmidtko, the report’s lead author.
Some areas have seen a greater drop than others. The Pacific – the planet’s largest ocean – has suffered the greatest volume of oxygen loss, while the Arctic witnessed the sharpest decline by percentage. “While the slight decrease of oxygen in the atmosphere is currently considered non-critical, the oxygen losses in the ocean can have far-reaching consequences because of the uneven distribution,” added another of the report’s authors, Lothar Stramma.
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It is increasingly clear that the heaviest burden of climate change is falling on the planet’s oceans, which absorb more than 30% of the carbon produced on land. Rising sea levels are taking their toll on many of the world’s poorest places. Warming waters have devastated corals – including the Great Barrier Reef – in bleaching events.
Acidic oceans, caused by a drop in PH levels as carbon is absorbed, threaten creatures’ ability to build their calcium-based shells and other structures. Warming waters have also caused reproductive problems in species such as cod, and triggered their migration to colder climates. Lower oxygen levels in larger parts of the ocean are expected to force animals to seek out ever shrinking patches of habitable water, with significant impacts on the ecosystem and food web.
Callum Roberts, the author of Ocean of Life and a marine conservation biologist at the University of York, is unsurprised by the latest findings. “What we’re seeing is fallout from global warming,” he says. “It’s straightforward physics and chemistry playing out in front of our eyes, entirely in keeping with what we’d expect and yet another nail in coffin of climate change denial.”
Scientists have long predicted ocean deoxygenation due to climate change, but confirmation on this global scale, and at deep sea level, is concerning them. Last year, Matthew Long, an oceanographer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, predicted that oxygen loss would become evident “across large regions of the oceans” between 2030 and 2040. Reacting to the German findings, Long said it was “alarming to see this signal begin to emerge clearly in the observational data”, while Roberts said, “We now have a measurable change which is attributable to global warming.”
The report explains that the ocean’s oxygen supply is threatened by global warming in two ways. Warmer water is less able to contain oxygen than cold, so as the oceans warm, oxygen is reduced. Warmer water is also less dense, so the oxygen-rich surface layer cannot easily sink and circulate.
“As the world warms up, the thickness and temperature of the surface layers are increasing,” said Roberts. “This acts like a stronger lid on the world’s oceans, so there’s less oxygen transported down below.”
“Unless we address greenhouse gas emissions urgently we’ll see more and more of this,” said Roberts. “Life will become harder for creatures that live in the sea and for those that depend on them – ie us.”
Fish that rely on dissolved oxygen will grow more slowly, peak at a smaller body size, and produce fewer offspring. And, Roberts pointed out, larger fish such as tuna, swordfish and sharks will be badly affected given their greater dependence on larger amounts of oxygen – they will be driven into ever narrower bands of oxygen-rich water near the surface, as will much of their prey, leading to more competition for food sources and other changed behaviour.
One knock-on effect is likely to be an increase to overfishing: “The eastern Pacific has huge tuna fisheries already,” he pointed out. “If the tuna can’t dive down where it is uninhabitable, as oxygen deficient areas expand, they have less space at the surface, they’re squeezed into ever tighter spaces and they’re more vulnerable to being caught.”

souce : the guardian

Can E-Bikes Turn UK in to Cycling Nation ?

on the stand of Velorution, a retailer at this week's London bike show, its is clear which product is getting more attention. Visitors gravitate towards the Gocycle G3, standing around it and asking the assistant's questions.

unlike the show ponies of other stands, the G3 is not modelled on bikes that won the Tour de France or are intended to shave seconds off their own times in triathlons. the G3 is blue, folds up and features a battery and an electric motor.

Velorution is one of many exhibitors showing fast developing 'e-bike' technology - bikes that feature electric assistance to the pedals. Such boxes are intended to help less fit people to cycle when they might otherwise drive, help the fit cycle further and help couriers deliver heavier loads on cargo bikes.

The UK's bike retailers and distributors hope e-bike technology can provide a boost not just for riders but for bike sales, which since 2008 have remained stuck at about 3.5m units a year. they also hope it can reverse the declines in transport cycling across the country.

Jonathan Cole, Velorutions owner, says there is more of an acceptance of e-bikes than they used to be. "it's a great means of getting around town" he says. "You don't get sweaty"

Phillip Darnton, executive director of the bicycle association, a trade body says e-bikes offer potential sales kick where previous hoped for incentives to bike buying, such as the 2012 Olympics, largely disappointed. "I think the big thing is that e-bikes will appeal to an entirely different consumer," he says.

the picture for ordinary commuting bikes is not wholly gloomy, however, Mr Cole says Velorutioni's growing through focusing on "premium urban retail". the company sells stylish, practical bikes such as the UK -built Pashleys in well-off districts of the capital, where improved facilities have boasted cyclist numbers. Rui Amador, the marketing manager for Orbita, a Portuguese manufacturer, says his company is growing strongly in the U with a focus on low-priced but robust, practical bikes, especially in the expanding London market.

but e-bikes are where the big interest is, according to roman Magual, owner of London green Cycles, because of the same reductions in battery and weight and improvements in power that are making electric cars more attractive.

Many manufacturers have replaced motors that used to the wheels directly to powering the pedal cranks instead. that allows the bikes gears to widen the range of speeds where the motor provided useful assistance. The improvements have prompted several manufacturers including Brompton the make of the folding bikes o prepare plans for e-bikes for the first time

The big question is whether the e-bikes can finally make the UK a large scale cycling nation as the Netherlands and Denmark have long been.

Mr Darnton says many non-cyclists continue to feel roads are a hostile environment and suggest that ist is likely to continue as long as most parts of the UK lack good facilities for people to ride separated from the traffic.

for the bike industry, the growing popularity of e-bikes and heavy duty cargo bikes , another trend in evidence at the show may be good news even if they fail to lift overall sales.

source : ftweekend

London Mayor To Introduce T-Charge to Curb the Capitals Air Pollution

Mayor Sadiq Khan has put plans forth to curb pollution in the city that will be in effect as of the 23rd of October this year. The fee known as the 'T-Charge' will affect older and more polluting cars driving through London, as drivers will be charged up to £10. When interviewed by the guardian Sadiq said “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems. If we don’t make drastic changes now we won’t be protecting the health of our families in the future. 
“That is why today, on the 14th anniversary of the start of the congestion charge, I’ve confirmed we are pressing ahead with the toughest emission standard of any major city, coming to our streets from 23 October.”

The topic on the capitals air quality has been amongst the big biggest talking points and seems to be whats prompted the mayors action. The levy which is expected to affect over 10000 vehicles will operate on top of and during the same times as the congestion charge. The Transport for london website has a dedicated page for drivers to check whether they will be affected before the charge kicks in.  

This move comes after Paris banned older and more pollutting vehicles between 8am and 8pm on weekdays and has already inspired surrounding towns to take action againsts rising air pollution.  
Air pollution is believed to have caused about 40000 premature deaths in the UK and was labelked a public health emergency in April by a committee of MP's which left the government facing a legal challenge over adequacy of its plans to tackle the issue. 

In 2016 Mr Khan published a research showing schools in the capital were in areas that exceeded the legal pollution levels. HIs plans to cut air pollution have also included extending the ultra low emmision zone beyond the centre of London. The T-Charge may pave way for ther suggestions that were presented by MPSs such as the national diesel scrappage scheme which would see owners paid for scrapping their old vehicles. Even though some Mps have argued the money would be better spent on improving public transport and creating safe roads for articles, the mayor says he is open to suggestions as long as they share the same goal to improve air quality in the capital 

London to introduce £10 vehicle pollution charge, but is it really going to stop pollution?

Air pollution in London is getting worse and instead of finding solutions we're trying to fill up the coffers once again.
Setting the scene for asking Londoners to put their hands in their pockets again it's not enough to have an unfair congestion charge, now they want to add this...to cars from 2005 and older.
If you have such a car, logic dictates that it may be because you don't have the funds to upgrade, there are exceptions of course.

Already congestion charge is burning a whole in many families' finances. Every year it goes up unlike salaries and even if you live in the zone you have to pay it. This new tax would mean that someone traveling by car to Central London will have to pay £22.50, even if he/she is only going through the city to reach their destination.

Just like the congestion charge tax, his tax is not fair. If I don't pay my congestion charge, I will be penalised. In the meantime, many embassies and government agencies owe vast sums that they do not intend to pay and nothing happens to them.

So instead of asking people who do not have money to part with what they don't have, we should try and find ways to get people to transition to cleaner energy and products and make sure their carbon footprint is as low as possible without costing them anything. Certainly something that Shop 2 Save the Planet  www.shop2savetheplanet.com is doing providing carbon offset to UK residents for free.

It would make more sense to let people who are buying properties with a mortgage borrow more so they can buy an electric car with the extra money. Or get car manufacturers to part exchange old cars for a good discount on electric car. Shop 2 Save the Planet do not have car manufacturers or dealers amongst their partners but I'm sure they would be happy to partner with them so that each time someone buys an electric car they give them free carbon offsets.

We are in this together and only together will we find solutions, individuals, corporations, governments. It is time to give back to people who are making the country what it is and make sure their health or livelihoods are not jeopardised by greed and the search of power. 

The World Is Getting Warmer According To NASA Stats

January 2017 was the third warmest January in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
Last month's temperature was 0.20 degrees Celsius cooler than the warmest January in 2016. However, it was 0.92 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean January temperature from 1951-1980.

Two of the three top January temperature anomalies have been during the past two years. 2016 was the hottest on record, at 1.12 degrees Celsius warmer than the January mean temperature, followed by 2007 at 0.96 degrees Celsius warmer. January 2017 placed third.

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

source : nasa (climate change)

NASA stats - The World Getting Warmer

January 2017 was the third warmest January in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
Last month's temperature was 0.20 degrees Celsius cooler than the warmest January in 2016. However, it was 0.92 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean January temperature from 1951-1980.

Two of the three top January temperature anomalies have been during the past two years. 2016 was the hottest on record, at 1.12 degrees Celsius warmer than the January mean temperature, followed by 2007 at 0.96 degrees Celsius warmer. January 2017 placed third.

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

source : nasa (climate change)

Pollution Reports By Residents


Warsaw, Poland

“The air pollution problem in Poland is beyond any western standards. Despite poor conditions, Poland has done nothing to reduce used car imports, promote renewable energy, protect green areas or rationalise precaution levels. (Right now an alert is announced at 600% of the norm and the ministry for environment refuses to change that level because “they would have to announce the alert too often”.)
“Where I live (Warsaw) the air quality is very bad. The intensive development of apartment buildings in suburban areas without proper public transportation pushes people into cars and reduces green space. Over the last decade Warsaw suffered a net loss of 160,000 trees.
“Recently as more groups join the demand for better air, the city hall pretends they care, but there is no real action. I became a father five months ago and air quality has become a reason to stay indoors against our will for most of the winter. I’m a member of Warsaw’s city activist group Miasto Jest Nasze (the City is Ours), an organisation which set up Warsaw’s smog alert.” (Tymon Radwański)
Bath, UK
“Levels of nitrogen dioxide on several roads leading into the city have exceeded the EU limits for years. It’s said that people living off the southern approach road into the city are likely to die nine years younger than those living on the hill on the opposite side of the city, three miles away.” (Louise Hidalgo, Bathampton Meadows Alliance)

Port Harcourt, Nigeria

“Residents of Port Harcourt became aware of a black substance falling from the sky last November. Authorities said an investigation was going to be carried out but not much happened until late January and early February when this pollution became unbearable.
“A lot of residents believed local refineries were the likely cause and took to social media to ask the state government to act. Finally, a committee was set up and a report released showing the soot is petroleum based, but the government said they couldn’t determine which activities were the cause.” (Babajide Odulaja)
If you wipe surfaces indoors and outdoors with a white towel or tissue paper, you get a black smudge. Perhaps more worrisome is that if you clean your nostrils with a white material, you come up with a jet black residue. If you walk barefooted, the soles of your feet turn black.” (Eben Dokubo)
(Update: The situation was declared an emergency this week. According to reports the state government have shut down a Chinese construction company apparently responsible for the pollution.)


Envigado, Colombia

“Air pollution is visible here on most days. You can taste it in the air. I believe it’s caused by low-quality diesel, and the high number of motor vehicles. There is no rail system and freight is transported by road. Heavy vehicles emit a thick, black exhaust that is frightening to see and lingers in the air.” (Anonymous)

Los Angeles, US

“I grew up in Los Angeles in the 50s and 60s. I remember days where the air pollution was so bad your eyes would burn and it hurt – actually was painful – to take a deep breath. Combine that with the heat and a shining grey sky that beat down on you, where the soup was so thick all you could see of the sun was a diffuse bright patch in the sky, where even the grass turned brown and the trees died from the pollution, and you have a hell on earth of the sort described by Tolkein when he wrote about the wastelands of Mordor.” (EvilMidnightBomber)
“I remember walking home from my grade school in the late 60s literally crying like I had been teargassed the air was so bad. My parents said it was even worse before incinerators were banned.” (MakeBeerNotWar)


Shanghai, China

“We celebrate when we see blue sky and share pictures with each other on WeChat. I purchased an air purifier for my home – we have no idea if it helps. We just feel secure, it’s like buying insurance: you suddenly feel good.” (Artem)
When the air pollution is bad, many people in my office develop coughs and sick days are taken. I like to walk or ride a bicycle home, but I always need to check the air quality before leaving work. Today I decided to take the bus home because the air quality reading was 150. I have also cancelled weekend plans with friends due to the unhealthy air levels. It can be very depressing.
“When the neighbouring city Hangzhou hosted the G20 and they shut down all the factories for two weeks it was amazing. Shanghai had clear blue skies the whole time. It shows if they really wanted to improve the quality of life and health of their residents they could, but they are not willing to unless a group of rich, powerful people are coming.” (Anonymous)

Hong Kong

“Often, I don’t take my baby outside as I am so concerned about the effect on him. I wear a face mask on the days it is above an orange rating. My husband exercises at the gym instead of running when it’s bad. I often have a bitter taste or thick feeling on my mouth and tongue when I walk home at rush hour. This is a serious and scary problem, it’s obvious in the pollution visible on buildings, skin problems, difficulty breathing, chest pain and coughs.” (Anonymous)

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

“We are a part of the #BreatheMongolia and #MongolsAreSuffering initiatives. Protests and demonstrations in Ulaanbaatar have been raising awareness of the dangerous air pollution in the city and calling upon the government for solutions to the crisis as soon as possible. Thousands of demonstrators marched holding black balloons that represent their damaged lungs caused by air pollution and hung the balloons on the fence around the government house, aiming to show that around 500 children die annually in Mongolia due to air pollution.
“It has officially been declared that air pollution in Ulaanbaatar has reached disaster levels, exceeding 120 times the safe limit; 80% of the air pollution comes from the districts of ger (traditional circular felted tents) households, where people burn coal to stay warm.
“The top three diseases that resulted in the largest number of deaths in Mongolia in 2013 were air pollution-related. Studies show that air pollution exposure also results in miscarriage, premature birth and has an impact on the intellectual and physical development of a child. We know of someone who had multiple miscarriages while living in the city and had to move out to the countryside in order to give birth successfully. The people of Mongolia deserve clean air.” (Nomi Ganbold and JaRed Cameron)

Delhi, India

“I am asthmatic and air pollution makes me sick. In 2014 I packed up and left Delhi, moved to the mountains. But I have to keep coming back to the city and fighting air pollution has become a personal battle for me. I have seen healthy friends become sick in November 2016 as air pollution was at its peak. Tier two and tier three cities in India are worse though, there are no records on them and nothing to make people aware of it.” (Shibayan Raha)
“The air pollution in Delhi is actually pretty scary. I really haven’t ever experienced anything quite like it. There are days where I just have to stay inside because if I go out, I know the next day I’ll be struggling with sinus issues and laboured breathing. I have had a chronic cough since I have been here.

“Many people here, from young kids to athletic adults, to elders, all have this chronic congestive cough. We call it the Delhi chest, or the Delhi cough. Little kids with chronic respiratory illnesses are the norm here, not the rarity. And still they burn trash, run vehicles on diesel.
“I grew up in Los Angeles, and we had summer inversion layers that were probably the start of the reasoning for things like the Clean Air Act and the EPA. But the intensity of the physical symptoms I have here I have never experienced anywhere before.” (Nancy)

Source - the Guardian