Urban air pollution will have become the main “natural” cause of death by 2050, overtaking substandard water and poor sanitary conditions.
According to the report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it is expected that about 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, exacerbating the problems associated with air pollution, excessive amount of vehicles and waste management. The experts from the organization add that most likely there will be more devastating climate change due to the expected increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, mainly due to the 70% increase in CO2 emissions from energy production. Supposedly around 3.6 million people will die by 2050 because of unfavorable environmental factors. For instance, polluted air of the cities will cause an increasing number of deaths from respiratory diseases.
The OECD report “Prospects for the environment up to 2050: consequences of inaction” also names other adverse environmental factors that humanity will face in coming decades, affecting people’s health and life. Thus, the global demand for water will increase by 55%, and nearly 40% of the population, or 2.3 billion people more than at present, will experience a shortage of water. According to the experts, the north and south of Africa and Southern and Central Asia will especially suffer from lack of water.
By 2050, the demand for electricity will increase by 80%. At the same time, 85% of all energy will be obtained from fossil fuels, which will lead to an increase in the greenhouse gas emissions and deteriorate air quality. It is expected that the main consumers of energy will be the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, and South Africa.
The OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria claims that we have already witnessed the collapse of fisheries due to overfishing and are faced with serious shortage of water, which is the reason for the risk to agricultural development. Such substantial changes in the environment can not be separated from each other. They must be managed in the context of global efforts to ensure the availability of food and electricity, as well as poverty reduction.