While Lahore is known for its rich history, culture and heartwarming connections – people still do relate heera mandi to a prostitution hub despite so many new eateries especially Sweet Tooth’s efforts to reverse such mindsets. Lahore has also been named as the city with most harassers and toxic masculinity by many women and now – to top it all off Lahore has finally ranked as first in the world pollution index charts.
Imagine winning a race for coming last because that’s exactly where we are!
People won’t be talking about Anarkali’s tomb being a symbol of love, resilience or anything anymore – now we’d be remembered as the city that shouldn’t be travelled to. How nice.
Climate Change, Pakistan and the US Air Quality Index List
For those of you who don’t know what an Air Quality Index is, it’s a report that is used to monitor and report the air quality of a place on daily basis. Its purpose is to let us, the people, know where we stand when it comes to air pollution and its hazards in real time and by the looks of it – we Pakistanis are almost winning this match even if we couldn’t win from India and now are enjoying the numerous Bless/Black Friday deals and giving in to consumerism.
The higher an AQI (air quality index) is somewhere the more hazardous it is for the people living in that area. If you’re a Lahori and feeling bad for yourself – don’t worry … every city is following Lahore’s lead. Yay (?)
How about some more plastic balloon décor and confetti to celebrate our looming doom?
Anyhow, sarcasm apart, here’s a chart by the iqair.com to make you feel even worse:
Back in 2020 when we were ranking on no.2 I joked, “Hey, at least we aren’t first, right? We will get to see someone else go before we do so almost like standing in Joyland watching someone else take discovery, hear their screams and see their chappals flying mid-air – thinking why we took the tickets only to realise it’s too late to back out now. The next ride is already in preparation and we have been buckled in by our friends forcefully. We already know, we are going to regret it but we keep going anyways.”
At the time my point was to incite readers to start trying to make a difference – last minute panics have never even helped the brides and grooms, so if our strategy is to ignore it and keep doing what we are doing – feeling anxious just before hitting the ice berg won’t help us save our titanic.
Well – now – it’s time for us to take this ride and I am not sure if any of us is ready for it. Illnesses such as shortness of breath, diarrhea & nausea are circling houses like blood hounds waiting to rip strangers apart. People are getting sick quite often and experiencing breathing problems at a much higher scale than ever.
While locking yourself inside and trying to live like Rapunzel isn’t what we want – maybe that’s what we kind of need, at the moment.
What are the AQI Categories and what exactly do they refer to?
AQI has designated categories or scales to let people understand it at a globally efficient level. It starts from good meaning minimal or no impact and goes up to severe which obviously means impending doom, Satanist rituals and cannabilistic rings.
I’m kidding it just means that the people in areas labelled severe will die horrible deaths if their governments and industrial heads don’t start taking it seriously.
Without further ado, ladies and gentleman here are the AQI categories and what they mean:
0 – 50 = Good – Minimal Impact, easy peasy – lemon squeezy kinda life
51 – 100 = Satisfactory – Meh for most but can cause breathing issues for sensitive individuals
101 – 200 = Moderately Polluted – Can making breathing feel like a chore for people with weak lungs like those with asthama and be a reason of distress in children, older adults and those with heart issues
201 – 300 = Poor – Just like Joker was to Harley Quinn, its prolonged exposure can affect one’s breathing and cause excessive distress in people with heart conditions
301 – 400 = Very Poor – Prolonged exposure in such areas will help those pesky germs by actually assisting them in causing respiratory diseases and heighten the effects of lung and heart diseases
401 – 500 = Severe – this is when the four horsemen start circling and rounding up even the healthy people because surprise … you get a sickness, they get a sickness, erry’body gets to be sick!
When an area is marked severe and unhealthy people start developing respiratory diseases – the smog will also make it difficult to keep up with routinely physical activities due to constant breathing problems.
Pollution starts with ‘U’
I understand that by now, you might feel a bit tense if not too much and may even be thinking long term on how to either run away from Pakistan or to save yourself. The solution isn’t very difficult – all sorts of pollution as well as its control starts from you!
If you can’t recognise Pakistan in this map – you need to go see your Geography teacher ASAP! If you can, then you can see that Lahore is lit up like the fairy lights we use to decorate our rooms to compensate for not going out enough.
No, we are not focusing on how polluted India is just so you may feel a bit better – it’s time we start focusing on ourselves instead of trying to mock others for being at a similar level or lower level.
How can you help remove yourself from the pollution equation?
AQI highlighted the problematic air pollution quicksand only so why should you try to focus on reducing all kinds of pollution that involves you?
The answer is simple, air pollution = climate change and climate change = air pollution.
Paradoxical, I know but air pollution encourages the climate to change and be the bad boy it is being which leads to climate change then changing our air quality and making events like droughts, heat waves and harsh winters our acquaintances. Climate change is also a result of water and land pollution which means that all types of pollutions are secretly F.R.I.E.N.D.S and we are being bamboozled from every angle to ensure that our species meets their fate like the dinosaurs and the next ‘big thing’ can finally happen on Earth.
How can I help reduce the pollution?
- Plant more trees, save the bees and eat less meat – livestock farming and meat consumption holds the crown for producing most harmful greenhouse gases and are also responsible for deforestations
- Conserve energy – the lesser you use, the more power will be used to create more energy which will in turn lead to lesser carbon emissions from the plants
- Recycle your bottles – try to buy as less plastic bottles as possible, the lesser their demand is the lesser their generation would be
- Use environment friendly paints – VOCs or volatile organic compounds contribute to the strengthening & further creation of ozone layer which can lead to Smog
- Carpool or use public transportation – I know it can be difficult to do both but sometimes we need to put the future generation’s lives above our poor little egos and status symbols
- Compost – if you can’t compost everything in your kitchen start by composting leaves and yard waste as the first step and move forward from there
- Reduce the number of trips you take in your car – make a list of chores that need to be done beforehand and do them all in that same trip
- Eat local, organic produce rather than importing it – when we import something it gets sent to us via airline which will make getting that organic and environment friendly item just as hazardous
- Say no to long drives for now – as alluring as they are, long drives won’t help the pollution or you in the long run
- Delete your emails – deleting your old emails can reduce you carbon footprint significantly, therefore, unsubscribe from the newsletter you no longer have any interest in and start cleaning your inbox on daily basis so that they are not backed up in huge data centers and less energy is conserved in saving the emails you need
- Don’t let greenwashing take you emotionally – many brands will try to tell you to buy organic and environment friendly items but it will only help if you buy less not just by switching to a greener lifestyle
- Avoid burning leaves, plastic, trash or other materials – they only add to the carbon monoxide build up and increasing the AQI levels in an area despite those lovely BBQ parties … if your BBQ smoke is black, it needs to be cancelled ASAP
If you can’t let go of your BBQ parties then gas grills are more environmentally suited and produce considerably lesser amounts of carbon monoxide.
What steps can the Government take to reverse the effects of pollution?
The first step would be the creation of safe and affordable transport facilities which I feel we do have but due to over-population and no one to keep a check on the number of passenger that enter buses – we end up having with a negative image of the public transport sector. Some other implementations can include:
- Improving the industrial and municipal waste management to ensure minimal harmful chemical emissions
- Investment in energy efficient housing and power generation to help not just the upper class make this shift but also the lower ones
- Reduction in agricultural waste incineration and forest fires – as far as I know the law has been passed we just need to implement it now
- Promotion of agroforestry to mitigate climate change and open up new work opportunities for locals
- Shifting focus from coal, diesel and gas power stations or generations to solar panels and using wind and hydropower instead
- Introduction of pesticide and fertilizer alternatives to combat water pollution
- Design strategies to minimize and reduce landfill wastes by starting a country-wide composting community or company
- Start creating man-made forests – add more trees and green patches at highways and near underpasses – a good example for this is the Thandi Sarak in Lahore – one can feel the temperature drop just while driving through that patch on Upper Mall
- Keep an eye on the AQI to take proper actions in time and aware the masses of the dos and don’ts to reduce pollution
With the climate change getting noticeable as days pass, I see many environmentalists trying to get peers to understand. I myself have tried to convince people to not throw waste while driving only to be negated and agonized by throwing it out in front of me as a form of teasing. If you don’t plan on being the change this planet or country requires maybe consider not having children so they don’t have to suffer the crimes of their parents but if you do genuinely care about the future generations start by calling people out.
You don’t need to be perfect – we need more and more imperfect environmentalists because nothing can change overnight but we can surely start by taking little steps like not littering and using organic products.
Here’s to hoping we don’t die of climate change and prove the nihilistic part of me absolutely wrong!