New Delhi, 2009. From worldnomads.com
A new study released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland claims that India now has the worst air pollution in the world, besting traditional crazybad air champion China, as well as Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
India ranks last out of 132 countries in the ‘Air (effects on human health)’ category of the annual Environmental Performance Index, compared to China’s position at 128th worst air in the world (yes!).
The overall EPI ranking for India is also worse than China’s, with the world’s biggest democracy coming in at 125th out of 132 while China fares a little better at 116th.
The annual study is compiled using satellite data by environmental research centers at Yale and Columbia, as well as dozens of outside researchers.
In a narrative all too similar to the situation in China, The New York Times’ India Ink blog reports that the pollution is affecting smaller cities in addition to major urban centers, with the growing number of vehicles being the main cause of the worsening air quality. And as with China, India’s continued reliance on coal as an energy source is also cited as a major contributor to India having the worst air pollution in the world.
Meanwhile, D. Saha, a scientist with India’s Central Pollution Control Board, trots out a similar defense often heard in China concerning how air pollution is just an inevitable part of the whole developing economy package:
Particulate matter comes from boilers, thermal power plants and cars, as well, he said, but India would not have development if these activities were curbed, he said. “The diseases mentioned in the report are caused by many factors not just particulate matter, we are raising undue alarm,” Mr. Saha said.
His advice? “It is a non-issue, we have other pressing problems like poverty, focus on them.”
The solution? Do it the Chinese way! Suck it up for the time being, get rich, overspend for a ridiculous house in a foreign country, and then move abroad. Easy!
The Environmental Performance Index country profiles for India and China are below.