Climate Change is Reducing Particulate Pollution in India! But it isn’t good news yet

Can climate change reduce the ill-effects of air pollution in India?

A recent study by IIT Delhi and University of California researchers suggest that change in overall climate can reduce the level of PM 2.5 in the air, especially above the Indian landmass. This reduction will, in turn, decrease the number of deaths by 12,000 per year due to air pollution. Heavy precipitation, high wind speed, and greater mixed layer depth are the likely outcomes of climate change in the next eight decades which will help in settling down the fine-particulate matter. In the best case scenarios, the reduction in the level of PM 2.5 by the year 2100 could be almost as high as 80%.

Let’s probe deeper into the scientific calculations and inferences drawn from it. The scientists calculated the reduction in PM 2.5 levels under four RCP (Representative Concentration Pathways) scenarios namely: RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 6 and RCP 8.5 which are nothing but a measure of carbon dioxide concentration in the air in the year 2100. These scenarios were created by assuming the global population, the pattern in land use, economic development and government policies to fight climate change. Studies found that PM 2.5 level in 2001-2005 was 34 micro g/cubic meter which is predicted to fall below the baseline period exposure under RCP 4.5 after the year 2050 and under RCP 8.5 after the year 2090.

The researchers also made use of another set of models called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) to further support their theory. These models plot the country’s holistic development making use of demographics such as sex, age group, literacy level, etc. These graphs allow evaluation of the impact of climatic change using advanced calculations.

However, researchers warn us not to misinterpret this study as a solution to air pollution. The reduction in mortality rate due to climate change is not enough to deem India as a safe zone. The study is certainly ambiguous and falls under the category of uncertain future events. So don’t bet your life on it!

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