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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Clouding your judgement

Jake Stones investigates the damage air pollution is having on our planet

In New Delhi, during the autumn of 2017, poor visibility resulted in a 24-vehicle pile up on the Yamuna Expressway. Fortunately, there were no fatalities linked to this incident, but it is scary nonetheless. That is because people are entirely at fault – not nature or a freak accident. People, and the deliberate, albeit misguided, choices we have made over the last 200 years, were the sole contributors to this accident. The air pollution in New Delhi was so high that the drivers could not see well enough to operate their vehicles without crashing. This is the world we live in today.

It is a world governed by a new era of dominance over nature, now commonly referenced as the Anthropocene. Part of this epoch means that we are not only warming the atmosphere as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, but we are also damaging our most-needed lifeline – air. In the history of our species, we are yet to breathe this much carbon dioxide, pollutants, dust, ash and smoke.

These are all conditions of air pollution, defined by The Lancet (thelancet.com) in its Commission on Pollution and Health, which draws from the European Union’s definition, as unwanted, often dangerous material, that is introduced into the Earth’s air as a result of human activity, threatening human health and harming ecosystems. This is a broad definition, but one that is perhaps apt, as air is pretty far-reaching. In fact, a report published by Public Health England (gov.uk/phe) deems air pollution as the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, claiming that between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year are attributed to long-term exposure.

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About Be Kind

Hello, I can remember a time, not so long ago, when most people I know were afraid of bees. Along with wasps, bees would create carnage when innocently passing through a garden BBQ or picnic, as people dashed to safety, terrified of the striped stinging machines. Now, it seems that everyone loves the humble bumble – they’re viewed with reverence and affection, and their cute and cuddly depiction is worn on necklaces and T-shirts across the country. To say it’s been a turnaround would be an understatement, but why has this happened? Our perception of bees has had to change, but only because their crucial population is under threat and their plight has been brought into the public’s consciousness. We know that we have to protect them at all costs, or it will mean terrible things for mankind. But, how many other animals do we currently disregard, that we’ll only appreciate when they’re in trouble? How many of us look more fondly upon walruses, following Attenborough’s devastating documentary? This month we want to shine a light on non-human animals – the heroes who keep our ecosystems balanced, who help teach our children about the planet, and who bring our communities together. We share this Earth with so many creatures, great and small, all of whom are vital to our existence. But we need to begin to respect and care for them now, not just when the odds are against them. Enjoy the issue, Phillipa Editor