New Delhi: Our cities are chocking.
And it is not just the usual suspects, but there is a new member in the deadly gas club---carbon dioxide.
The gas is released into the atmosphere as we breathe out, but in more toxic amounts, as we burn fossil fuels.
A new study for the first time finds a direct link between an increase in carbon dioxide and an increase in deaths.
“It is very clearly making an explicit link between local air pollution and global problem of climate change. If there is a temperature increase because of global warming, it can enhance local air pollution problem and public health impact,” says Anumita Roychowdhury o of Centre for Science and Environment.
Using a 3-D climate-air pollution computer model, a scientist at Stanford University found that an increase in carbon dioxide leads to warmer temperature and higher water vapour, which leads to an increase in ozone and air-borne particles resulting in an increase in deaths.
About 1,000 more deaths a year per degree Celsius increase in temperature due to carbon dioxide.
So what is the outlook for India?
Here's what the scientist who conducted the study, has to say.
“Based on a simple extrapolation by population, it was found that around 20,000 additional death per degree Celsius may occur due to CO2. I expect that this is an underestimate and that the health effects in places such as India and China are proportionately higher than found in the US due to the high particle and gas air pollution loadings in both countries,” says Atmosphere/Energy Program Stanford University, Mark Z Jacobson.
Of course if you remember your school science, you know that trees, and plants are life-giving, taking carbon dioxide and converting it into oxygen, that is of course essential for us to breathe.
You would think that was an imperative service in city like this polluted beyond belief -- but apparently nothing stands in the face of progress.
So while development remains a priority, it is the city's green lung that is taking a hit.