There is no denying the fact that air pollution is the biggest health emergency in the world. In several countries, there are multiple cities recording a high rate of air pollution. Schools in such cities are being shut for a period of days when air pollution levels start peaking. Even offices are allowing their employees to work from home.
Air pollution is forcing cities to operate differently and inefficiently. In developed countries such as the US, a city like New York is plagued with dense population, high air pollution, and reduced quality of life. Similarly, industrial heartlands of European countries, including China, and India are also suffering from tainted air.
How to Treat These Air-Polluted Cities?
The key to solving air pollution problems is difficult to find. How did metro cities in India, particularly Delhi, became gas chambers in a matter of years? Barely a decade ago, there was an ample amount of fresh air in these metro cities. However, in the past few years, Delhi gets covered in smog during the winter and dust during the summers.
The three key factors boosting air pollution in cities are:
- Excess carbon emissions
- Reduced green covers (cutting down of trees)
- Increasing population
Millions of people are migrating to cities for better livelihoods but causing an imbalance in the use of resources. Natural reserves are being used in an exploitatory manner. To build homes for growing urban populations, gardens are being razed. To widen the roads for remedying the traffic woes, dozens of trees are being cut down. You can easily notice how the number of vehicles on the road has increased at an alarming rate.
One thing common in these three factors is the lack of proper urban planning. If our urban developments are well-planned, then there is a good chance for us to gain control over the air pollution levels.
Sustainable Urban Planning for Clean Air
To tackle the triggering factors of air poisoning, a city needs to adopt sustainable measures in its urban planning. Urban planning courses are being upgraded to educate students on how to add sustainability in an element of urban development.
Here are the four simple ways in which sustainable urban planning can improve the air quality in our cities:
- Vehicle-free Zones: Restrict vehicles from entering the city centres and dense public spaces. Ban the presence of vehicular carbon emissions near tourist places and heritage sites. Construct barricade for four-wheelers and two-wheelers. Promote the need for walking among pedestrians and support it with well-built and maintained footpaths/pavements.
- Dedicated Green Landscapes: Build green walls in the highly-polluted areas of the city. Ensure maximum usage of open spaces for plants and vegetation. Increase the use of air-purifying plants such as Areca Palm and Aloe Vera in outdoor areas.
- Increased Access to e-Mobility: Increase the presence of electronic power stations to charge hybrid cars and motorcycles. Boost the adoption of e-cars and electronic transport facilities. Allow privileges to people commuting to alternative fuel automobiles. Improve the energy consumption of local amenities by replacing fossil fuels with solar energy and other alternatives.
- Noncarbon Public Transport: Lower the registration of diesel engines in public buses and state transport vehicles. Encourage people to use metro rail services and electronic public transport services. Replace poor-conditioned public transport vehicles with low-cost electronic vehicles.
If we fail to adhere to such sustainable urban planning ideas, then it won’t be far for us to be in a situation where we’re unable to even breathe in the cities built for better living!