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You and the planet: air

Air pollution causes around 7 million premature deaths every year, according to the World Health Organisation. As well as the impact on human health, poor air quality and increasing greenhouse gases in our atmosphere have a serious impact on our planet's health.

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About the talk

From the cars we drive, the fuels we burn and the animals we farm, to the garbage we landfill and beyond, human activity continues to be the main source of pollutants in our air. Without urgent action, we will continue to see increasing global temperatures, extreme weather, damage to biodiversity and loss of human life. But what can we do to tackle the problem we are currently facing? And how can we take clean, fresh steps forward? 

These questions are now more pressing than ever before. In December 2020, legal history was made when a coroner ruled that air pollution was a cause of death in the case of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah in 2013. It is the first time such a ruling has been delivered in the UK, and is expected to further increase determination to tackle dangerous levels of air pollution.

Join our panel of experts as they clear the air and explore the options and opportunities to improve air quality and, in turn, the quality of life on Earth.


The event is hosted by Helen Pidd, North of England editor of the Guardian and founding member of Walk Ride Greater Manchester. Helen is joined by: 

  • Professor David Fowler CBE FRSE FRS: World-leading expert on air pollution, formerly of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
  • Dr Mark Richards: Senior Lecturer and Head of Outreach in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.
  • Dr Ther Wint Aung: National Geographic Explorer leading a project on energy poverty.
  • Dr Suzanne Bartington: Clinical Research Fellow in Environmental Health in the Institute of Applied Health Research and Honorary Consultant in Public Health at Public Health England.

This event was produced by The Royal Society in partnership with Manchester Science Festival. This event was also streamed as part of NI Science Festival.

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