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Can the world act in time?


“Authors Robert Rohde and Richard Muller, of the research organization Berkeley Earth, calculated that outdoor air pollution contributes to 1.6 million deaths in China every year, or 4,400 per day."

“Researchers at Berkeley have used Google Maps and new data on China's air pollution to create a near real-time visualization of the country's air quality. The online map is based on findings that the scientists published last month in the journal PLoS One.

The study is based on hourly air quality measurements from 1,500 sites across China and Hong Kong over a four month period last year. During that period (April to August 2014), 92 percent of China's population experienced more than 120 hours of "unhealthy air," based on US standards, while 38 percent were exposed to average concentrations that were unhealthy. Authors Robert Rohde and Richard Muller, of the research organization Berkeley Earth, calculated that outdoor air pollution contributes to 1.6 million deaths in China every year, or 4,400 per day.” [Source: CNNMoney, September 21, 2015 at bit.ly/1jPcoRh.]

Regardless of their source, air quality does not respect national boundaries. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in May 2016, that "More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted."

So, while the first round of rapid development is considered over in the so-called developed world, all species on this planet face the consequences of next round of various kinds of pollution from rapidly developing and emerging nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This round of rapid development presents even greater challenges than previous cycles because we are now expecting an average of 87 million new human inhabitants each year---each human bringing a demand for personal opportunity and prosperity.

Is this data on air-pollution-related death representative of the situation that people face in China? If so, can the government and people of China change attack the underlying causes in time? What of the other nations that are going through the same rapid development cycle as China? How can we, acting individually and together, meaningfully contribute to a solution?

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