According to the State of Global Air (SOGA) 2019 study, the life expectancy of children born today will be shortened by 20 months on average by breathing the toxic air that is widespread across the globe with the greatest toll in south Asia. Air pollution contributed to nearly one in every 10 deaths in 2017, making it a bigger killer than malaria and road accidents and comparable to smoking.
An article in the Lancet Planetary Health Globally estimated that four million new pediatric asthma cases could be attributable to NO2 pollution annually with 64% of these occurring in urban centers. This burden accounts for 13% of global incidence.
Some 43% of Americans are now living in places where they are breathing unsafe air, according to the American Lung Association.
We always think New Zealand is one of the most pristine places on the planet. Well, the 2019 Environment Aotearoa report concludes that New Zealand is now one of the most invaded countries in the world, with 75 animal and plant species having gone extinct since human settlement.
The once-vibrant bird life has fared particularly badly, with 90% of seabirds and 80% of shorebirds threatened with or at risk of extinction. Almost two-thirds of New Zealand’s rare ecosystems are under threat of collapse, and over the last 15 years the extinction risk worsened for 86 species, compared with the conservation status of just 26 species improving in the past 10 years.
My tiny garden in Eastern Beach is a veritable bio-diversity hot spot. I have trees and flowers on my pavement, food for people and the parrots. Exotics and natives that feed the bees all year round. The fantails, tui’s and other birds abound. Vertical gardens cover walls and fences and hang from tree branches.
And I look around the neighbourhood and dream about it as my extended garden.
I would add some more shade trees for the people on the beach, I would extend the boardwalk both as a sea barrier and for the elderly to stroll along with a few more benches under shade trees. Beehives would be protected in the reserve. Edible herbs and flowers along the pavements.
Surely this would then be the most heavenly little piece of urban Eden!