India’s Air Pollution and Climate Change

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The World Health Organization states that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular systems (Secretariat 2018). Pollution is a worldwide problem. It is defined as the introduction of harmful materials into the environment (National Geographic 1). Materials are a variety of substances known as pollutants and can even be natural. Some of the substances are carbon dioxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO), and carbon monoxide (CO) and can cause climate change.

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Climate change is defined as a change in the pattern on weather, and related changes in oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets, occurring over time scales of decades or longer (Australian Academy of Science 1). India is a country that strongly struggles with pollution. India’s total population of 2017 reached 1,339,180,127 people and is globally ranked number two on population (Worldometers 2). The country is ranked number two on most deaths due to ambient air pollution (Science Direct 15). Pollution is a big problem because it is a global issue, it affects climate change, and India suffers strongly with it.

Global pollution is a major issue and is the source of many problems. Ninety-one percent of the earth’s population is living in air pollution that exceeds the World Health Organization’s limit (WHO Air Pollution 1). Air pollution isn’t the only type of pollution. In Quezon City, Philippines, there was massive trash landslide in 2000, killing 218 people (National Geographic 9). Over one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution each year (11 Facts About Pollution 1). With these three examples, this concludes that there are three major types of pollution; air, soil, and water pollution.

The simple definition of air pollution in considered to be the presence of toxins or chemical compounds in the air, at levels that pose a health risk. In an even broader sense, air pollution means the presence of chemicals or compounds in the air which usually are not present and which lower the quality of the air or cause detrimental changes to the quality of life (such as the damaging of the ozone layer and global warming according to the article What Is Air Pollution (Environmental Pollution Centers 1). This type of pollution can cause many human health issues. These issues can be small problems to life threatening complications like irritated coughing and chronic lung disease (What Is Air Pollution 4). There is also the greenhouse effect. This effect is when greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat inside the Earth and keep Earth warm enough for species of all kinds to inhabit it. Although when human activities like transportation release more of the gases into the air, it increases the greenhouse effect, which is also known as global warming (National Geographic 4).

Soil pollution is also known as land pollution. The pollution of soils definition is due to the incorporation of unwanted chemicals in the soil due to human activities (Mehta 4). Insecticides and pesticides are a few of the commonly known chemicals that lead to soil pollution. Landfill waste is very effective in pollution. Although there are many non-hazardous materials like wood, bricks, and glass, there are still many materials that are hazardous to the environment and human health. These pollutants range from paints to aerosol cans and from petroleum to pesticide manufacturing (Mehta 4). Farmers use pesticides and other similar products to increase yield size and or to kill insects. These pesticides can be blown away by the wind and end up being absorbed by fruits and vegetables. When animals or humans consume these products, it can cause many illnesses like cancer (National Geographic 8).

Water pollution is another major sub factor of pollution. It is referred to as the presence in groundwater of toxic chemicals and biological agents that exceed what is naturally found in the water and may pose a threat to human health and/or environmental health (What Is Water Pollution 1). Some of the most common pollutants of water pollution are fertilizers, petroleum, detergents, and antibiotics. Marine life is heavily affected by pollution. When detergents pollute the water, due to people washing their clothes in lakes or rivers, it causes sunlight to not penetrate the water and reduce oxygen levels, making the area inhabitable (Mehta 4). Although humans cause most of the water pollution, they are also affected by it. The United Nations has estimated that about 4,000 children die each day due to drinking dirty water (National Geographic 6).

Earth’s climate is an ever changing event. There are also many factors and influences that go into climate change. Deforestation, burning fossil fuels, and pollution are some of major influencers towards the event (Understand Climate Change ). The greenhouse effect is also a factor of climate change. When heat-trapping emissions rise in percentage due to human activities, this causes more solar radiation to be reflected back into Earth. Naturally occurring emissions already keep the Earth warm and habitable (What is Climate Change 3). Unfortunately, when humans increase the adding of them, the emissions cause many disturbances globally. Carbon dioxide is a well-known pollutant, sourced from fossil fuels being burnt. Cars are a common fossil fuel burning alongside industrial use. These emissions are also known as air pollution.

The book Introducing Global Issues also talks about climate change and the greenhouse effect. It also states that ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that most of the carbon dioxide emissions are caused by human activities (Seis 313). Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans (Seis 314). This relates back to pollution as the carbon dioxide is being absorbed into the air and water. India is a major contributor and is also majorly affected.

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India's Air Pollution and Climate Change. (2020, Feb 15). Retrieved from