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According to scientists with the United Nations Environment Programme, a toxic cloud of poisonous gases and chemicals, three kilometers thick, is affecting “air quality and agriculture in Asia increasing risks to human health and food production for three billion people”—almost half of the world’s total population. It has also produced a 10 to 25% reduction of sunlight in major cities across the continent.
The “increasing amount of soot, sulphates and other aerosol components in atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) are causing major threats to the water and food security of Asia and have resulted in surface dimming, atmospheric solar heating and soot deposition in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan-Tibetan (HKHT) glaciers and snow packs. These have given rise to major areas of concern, some of the most critical being observed decreases in the Indian summer monsoon rainfall, a north-south shift in rainfall patterns in eastern China, the accelerated retreat of the HKHT glaciers and decrease in snow packs, and the increase in surface ozone…All these have led to negative effects on water resources and crop yields” (ibid.).
Over the past few decades, smog clouds have appeared worldwide, with dozens of cities reporting health issues stemming from it.
“For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates that 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by twigs” (International Herald Tribune).