Today’s world is threatened by many ticking time bombs. Some, like immigration, financial crises or terrorism, tend to blow up suddenly, but the majority – including rising income inequalities, ultra-low or negative interest rates, technological change, over-indebtedness, fading productivity and so on – are defusing slowly but surely. So slowly, in fact, that they don’t create the feeling of an impending crisis. And yet, as in a hall of mirrors, they magnify each other, contributing to the rising global sentiment of populist angst and the feeling that we live in a regressive era.
In the wellness/health space, air pollution is a significant ticking time bomb. It is much less talked about than other more visible issues such as obesity, but it is growing at an alarming rate – rising by 8 percent globally over the past five years. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution causes more than 3 million premature deaths globally every year and countless respiratory and cardiovascular related diseases.
The ranking of the worst polluted cities in the world shows that in megacities like Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Cairo, Mumbai or New Delhi, inhabitants breathe more than five times (up to 10 in New Delhi – the worst air polluted city in the world) the safe limit of particulate matters that can enter the lungs and even the bloodstream. In total, 98 percent of cities with over 100,000 inhabitants in low- and middle-income countries do not meet WHO air quality guidelines.