Climate change is real. (If you're still in denial about that, it's just sad.) The UN Climate Summit, or COP25, in Madrid, Spain gathered international representatives to address the urgency of the issue. Amongst the many happenings, one of the features that caught eyes was an art installation. Michael Pinsky's pollution pods mimic air pollution levels in the most polluted cities in the world, including Delhi, London, Beijing. Visitors get to experience what it's like to live in the toxic smog.
Using safe chemicals such as perfumes and fog machines, audiences are placed in the immersive pod to recreate the air pollution of six different cities in the world. Aside from the polluted cities, the clean air of Tautra, Norway was also replicated to illustrate the differences.
Despite the non-toxic nature of the pods, visitors began experiencing shortness of breath and watery eyes within mere minutes. Pinsky highlights that although audiences only experienced the pollution simulation for a few moments, this is a reality for the populations of these cities.
An Imminent Crisis
Although the WHO declared air pollution a public health priority, the way authorities address it remains severely problematic. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, "no death certificate has the cause of death listed as pollution." Similarly, the environmental minister Prakash Javadekar claims, "No Indian study has shown pollution shortens life. Let us not create fear psychosis among people." (That's not the case if anyone is wondering.)
Air pollution severely increases the risk of chronic heart, respiratory diseases. Children are at particular risk, as lung and brain development can be stunted by air pollution.
The pollution pods were launched in Norway, June 2018. Ever since at least 20,000 people have experienced the various air pollution levels, a strict reminder of the gravity of the problem.
Perhaps setting up the cleaner air pods to India could finally help people realise the dangers of the very air they breathe every day.