World Environment Day Warns of Air Pollution

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that we have about twelve years to save the environment or there’s no turning back. The goal is to cut carbon dioxide emissions and try to stabilize global warming. To avoid irreversible changes to our environment, the first step is awareness. The next step is action. World Environment Day is about taking both steps toward a healthier planet. In this blog, we’ll look at how video and social media are being used to inform and inspire all of us.

World Environment Day

Since 1974, World Environment Day has encouraged all global citizens to act on behalf of the planet. It’s a United Nations initiative that’s now embraced by over 100 countries. Each year has a theme, and this year’s is Air Pollution.

The Mask Challenge is a way to engage people by using face masks as a symbol of the fight for clean air. People are encouraged to take pictures and videos of themselves wearing facemasks—many personally designed—and post them to social media with relevant hashtags. Participants are also asked to share the action they’ll take to reduce air pollution and tag three people or organizations, challenging them to do the same. A World Environment Day video was created to inspire participation and encourage awareness.

Video Illuminates the Problem

Air pollution can be difficult to explain and is much more than the smog we can see. One of the biggest pollutants is methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane gas leaks are a huge contributor to air pollution, but invisible to the naked eye. Using high-tech thermal cameras, these leaks can be revealed. This information enables oil and gas companies to reduce methane pollution, effectively fighting climate change.

 

* methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide

Power in the Palm of Your Hand

In China, host of World Environment Day 2019, an app was created to promote tree planting and reduce air pollution. Ant Forest was an Alipay campaign that ran from August 2016 to April 2019 as part of China’s Great Green Wall initiative. It was downloaded by 500 million users who were offered “green energy points” for making environmentally-friendly decisions such as foregoing plastic bags or recycling old items. These points could then be used to plant trees in areas without vegetation. Users could track their tree contribution on satellite images. Another example of how social media and technology was used to engage with the public for positive environmental impact.

Interactive Element

Are you interested in finding out more about air quality? Click here to see how your area’s air rates. You can find out how many annual deaths are attributed to air pollution and where your city ranks on an air quality scale. There’s even a score for indoor versus outdoor pollution. You can also test your knowledge of air pollution with this quiz. These interactive elements help illustrate why air pollution is the focus of World Environment Day 2019.

Air Pollution Affects Everyone

Air pollution is a serious problem that results in deaths around the world. Have a look at the global stats below. Then watch an animated explainer to learn how air pollution damages healthy bodies.

  • 7% of lung cancer deaths
  • 18% of COPD deaths
  • 20% of stroke deaths
  • 34% of heart disease deaths

You Can Make a Difference

The most important thing to remember on World Environment Day is that you can make a difference. Be aware, stay informed, and make changes in your life that contribute to a healthier planet. Our future literally depends on it.