By Mariėtte Le Roux
Nairobi (AFP) Dec 4, 2017
Humans are poisoning their environment and themselves at an alarming rate, with pollution of the oceans, soil and air now the biggest killer, a UN conference heard Monday.
Urging rapid and united action from governments, businesses and individual consumers, envoys underlined that nine million people are now killed by pollution every year -- one in six global deaths.
"Pollution is the biggest killer on the planet and we need to defeat it," UN Environment Programme head Erik Solheim said at the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Of the annual tally, nearly seven million people succumb from inhaling toxins in the air -- from car exhaust fumes, factory emissions and indoor cooking with wood and coal, according to a recent report by The Lancet medical journal.
Lead in paint alone causes brain damage in more than half-a-million children every year.
Yet, as the human toll keeps rising, so does the trashing.
"Over 80 percent of the world's waste water is released into the environment without treatment," Ligia Noronha, director of the UN Environment Programme's economy division, told journalists at the assembly.
"Close to 50 million tonnes of e-waste are produced every year."
The UNEA is the highest decision-making forum on issues concerning the natural environment, with all 193 UN member countries represented.
It gathered environment ministers and deputies from more than 100 countries in the Kenyan capital from Monday to Wednesday, to thrash out the wording of a global, political declaration entitled: "Towards a Pollution-Free Planet".
- 'A problem of human rights' -
The pact will commit UN member countries to limiting humankind's fouling of the planet with chemicals, non-biodegradable litter, and toxic smoke.
The ministers are also negotiating a number of specific anti-pollution resolutions to limit the amount of fish-choking plastic that finds its way into the ocean, for example, and to stop the use of lead in paint.
The recent report by The Lancet said welfare costs associated with pollution, including medical costs, were nearly $5 trillion (4.2 trillion euros) a year -- more than six percent of global economic output.
"It's not just a problem of health. It's not just a problem of productivity and implications to the economy, but it's also very much a problem of human rights," said Noronha.
"People have a right to live in clean environments."
The president of the UNEA meeting, Costa Rica's environment minister Edgar Gutierrez, said he had urged government representatives to set aside narrow national interests and look past contentious issues to find "common ground".
"Looking at the whole, we have done a very bad job taking care of our environment," he said.
"And the worst part of this is that we have very little room now to make mistakes."
The assembly gathered more than 4,500 participants including government representatives, NGOs, scientists and business people.
Aside from outright poisoning, pollution causes an array of deadly ailments such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
New Delhi (AFP) Dec 4, 2017
Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers battled through hazardous smog levels in a Test match Monday as New Delhi authorities faced scathing criticism over their lack of action to combat pollution. A day after protests by Sri Lankan players temporarily halted the third Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, the third day's play went ahead in even worse smog. The concentration of the smallest and ... read more
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|