The number of COVID-19 confirmed cases has surpassed 73.6 million worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 1,638,000. The speed with which the virus has spread has taken most governments apparently by surprise. It is an image that helped us realise the importance of being able to breathe. Many have died because they could not sustain normal breathing, even the very young.
The tragic case of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who lived in southeast London, stands out as a tragic reminder of the consequences of air pollution. Ella lived near one of the UK capital’s busiest roads; she died from asthma. A landmark coroner’s ruling cited air pollution as the cause of her death. Ella is believed to be the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. During the course of her illness, between 2010 and 2013, Ella was exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in excess of World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
Still, even with COVID-19, there’s a widespread lack of understanding about the damage that air pollution can have on people of all ages. Coronavirus, constituting an emergency unprecedented in modern times, has much to teach us about how civilization should deal with global crises.
Climate change and coronavirus share a similar magnitude, affecting every country on earth.