On-site pods give visitors first-hand look at air pollution, climate change effects at COP25

Interesting displays at this year’s 25th Conference of the Parties conference on global warming and climate change being held in Madrid, Spain, between Dec. 2nd and the 13th, are the air pollution and climate change pods that people can pass through enabling them to have a first-hand look at what 90 percent of the world’s population and 100 percent of the world’s population, respectively, experiences from day to day.

A smoggy New York

Pod particulars are detailed in the World Health Organization’s “Pollution Pods at COP25 show climate change and air pollution are two sides of the same coin,” Nov. 28, 2019 news release the opening statement of which reads:

“Air pollution and climate change are two sides of the same coin: both are largely caused by the same sources and have similar solutions. Ambitious climate action has the potential to both safeguard our health and future, and to reduce the yearly seven million premature deaths from air pollution.”


Regarding the pods themselves, the WHO in the release wrote: “This immersive art installation at the COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid encourages negotiators, observers and world leaders attending the summit to walk through the pods, letting visitors experience the daily reality of air pollution lived through by millions. The installation aims to help drive ambitious action for health and climate, and was brought to COP25 by the World Health Organization (WHO), Cape Farewell, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition [of] Spain, the Clean Air Fund and key partners of the BreatheLife Campaign.”

Not your typical exhibit

“One or two minutes inside artist Michael Pinsky’s Pollution Pods and visitors at COP25 might begin experiencing shortness of breath, …” but, as related in the release, the WHO assures that in no way, shape or form is the atmosphere inside the pods unsafe.

The WHO further stresses, “[s]afe innovative perfume blends and fog machines imitate the air quality of some of the world’s most polluted cities – London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi – as well as one of the most pristine environments on earth, Tautra in Norway.”

As for the real polluted-air problem, WHO has declared it to be “a public health priority,” emphasizing that air pollution is “largely caused by the same burning of fossil fuels that is driving climate change …” Moreover, air pollution impacts 90 percent of the world’s population, the WHO going farther, adding in no uncertain terms that “… polluted air is poisoning nine out of ten of us and killing over seven million of us prematurely every year,” 0.6 million of those being children.

“Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said: ‘We need to agree unequivocally on the need for a world free of air pollution. We need all countries and cities to commit to meeting WHO air quality guidelines.’”

What kind of commitment? Nothing less than that on a global scale is what we are talking about here. To achieve something that extraordinary would be truly unprecedented!

That being said, “‘… The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,’ said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. ‘When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.’

“Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition of Spain, said: ‘… The symbolic installation of the Pollution Pods at COP25 should remind everybody that we are negotiating for cleaner environments, cutting emissions and gaining better health for all.’”

To learn more, see: “Pollution Pods at COP25 show climate change and air pollution are two sides of the same coin: Immersive art installation at COP25 recreates air pollution experienced daily by millions, representing a major public health issue,” Nov. 28, 2019 news release here.

Image above: Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

– Alan Kandel