We breathe climate change
Between 12 and 20 times a minute, 23,000 times a day, millions of times a year, over and over and over again, we breathe climate change. And it is harming us.
Exhaustion is a four-year research project (2019–2023) whose goal is to find mitigation and adaptation strategies that tackle the health risk connected with increasing temperatures and heat waves due to climate change combined with air pollution.
With the CICERO communication team and the scientists, InfoDesignLab is leading the co-design process of 4 packages of data-visualisations targeting policymakers, media, medical practitioners and citizens to support informed decisions or raise awareness.
We breathe climate change is the theme that connects the data-viz packages. We identified this theme after in-depth interviews and after several design iterations, in order to build the identity of the data-viz project as a whole.
The first package was launched in June 2020 and developed through a co-design process that lasted six months. The intent of this visualisation is to show that climate change worsens the health impact of air pollution.
Because of human activities such as transport, agriculture and energy use, we pump pollutants (such as gases and particulate matter) and greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) into the air.
On one hand these emissions build up in the atmosphere causing climate change acting much like a blanket trapping heat, on the other hand they pollute the air we breathe, making air pollution the single largest environmental health risk in Europe. Air pollution causes up to 800,000 deaths a year in Europe and 8.8 million worldwide*.
The big problem is that climate change worsens the HEALTH impacts of air pollution.
Climate change leads to more frequent heat waves and to increasing temperatures, posing a health risk to human health due to heat stress.
Climate change also causes changes in air pollution which amplify the health impacts of air pollution through increased deaths rates and hospitalization, particularly for cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.
The good news is that we can protect the health of millions of people by implementing climate and air-quality policies.
The second package has been launched in summer 2023 and its intent is to focus on the health impacts of the interaction between heat and air pollution. The intent is to show that more people will die of heart diseases in our cities when high temperatures are combined with high levels of air pollution. This is especially true for those of us who are 65 and older.
There is an increased risk of heart, respiratory diseases and death due to heat. The risk is enhanced when we are exposed to heat and high levels of air pollution at the same time. Hence, it makes sense to have health policies that tackle heat and air pollution together.