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The mainstream press, citing a UN study dated November 2021, has just published an article entitled " These countries are the world's biggest polluters".

As usual, the UN study has not been published ( no link ). So readers cannot check whether what the press states is correct. They just have to assume it is true.

Moreover, it is very striking that the article only talks about CO2 pollution per capita ( resident ). Nowhere does it mention total CO2 emissions per country. Nor does it take into account other factors such as the surface area of the country. It goes without saying that a huge country with many inhabitants like China emits more CO2 than a small peninsula with a surface area of barely 11,617 km2 and 2 million inhabitants like Qatar, which is nevertheless generously ranked in the article as the biggest polluter. Even more reprehensible is the observation that other polluting factors are not taken into account in the article. The air is not only "polluted" by CO2 (which is actually not a polluting gas, as it is purified by trees that convert CO2 into oxygen), but mainly by exhaust gases from fuel vehicles and machinery that contain all kinds of other gases besides CO2 , chemical products that end up in the air (or are specifically discharged into it, such as pesticides), sand, lime, aluminium, cadmium, radium, phosphorus, fine dust, etc...

Time to take a closer look.

The state of air quality depends on who is doing the measuring and ranking.

IQair ( on which the UN relies ) has several sections on its site whose content ( for each section ) varies. On the list of " most polluted countries in the world ", Belgium ranks 82nd ( out of 118 ). The average air quality is considered good ( 48 ). In Limburg, the air quality is even better ( 25 on the pollution index )

On another IQair webpage, however, there are different data. Under the section " 10 most polluted countries ", 55 countries are listed. On this list, Belgium ranks 44th most polluted country ( in terms of air quality ) with an index of 64. Just get out of there.

Note: this index changes every few minutes. Just now, B ranked 42nd most polluted air with an index of 66. How it is possible for a country to move up or down 2 rankings in a matter of minutes, Who knows.

On the website Numbeo, Belgium ranks 78th ( out of 112 ) with an air pollution index of 50.27 and 35th ( out of 112 ) in least air pollution.

According to the website European Air Quality index, air quality in Europe - except for a few specific locations - is good ( including Belgium ) to fair / reasonable in almost all places.

By contrast, according to the WHO, air pollution is an unmitigated disaster and smoke from dirty cooking cookers causes 3.2 million deaths annually ( ! )

More. According to WHO, 99% of the world's population is exposed to major risks every day . 99% ... " From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home, air pollution poses a major threat to health across the globe. Almost all of the global population (99%) are exposed to air pollution levels that put them at increased risk for diseases including heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer and pneumonia. WHO monitors the exposure levels and health impacts (i.e. deaths, DALYs) of air pollution at the national, regional and global level from ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution. Such estimates are used for official reporting like the world health statistics, and the Sustainable Development Goals Another section of the WHO website even mentions 7 million deaths per year from household air pollution

As usual, the WHO again works with " estimates " ( estimates ). We all know by now what WHO " estimates " are worth....

Not uncommon at WHO is that one hand does not know what the other is doing. On yet another section of WHO's website, Excel registers have been published showing air quality measurements at a multitude of locations in each country between 2010 and 2019. Finding 1 : WHO has not recorded measurements since 2019 Finding 2 : air quality has improved between 2010 and 2019. Even in the countries booked as the biggest air polluters anno 2022 ( in Belgium, values have dropped by 5 to 15 index points )

The website Our World in Data goes even further. According to this website, " indoor air pollution " is the main cause of premature death and 4.1% of all deaths worldwide ( or 328 million people ! ) are due to indoor air pollution.

Even more punishing, reportedly, is outdoor air pollution. 7.8% of all deaths worldwide are said to be due to this type of pollution. In some countries, 1 in 10 of all deaths are said to be due to outdoor air pollution and, just last year, 4,506,193 thousand deaths are said to be due to outdoor air pollution ( ! ) "The Global Burden of Disease study estimates that 4506193 deaths were attributed to outdoor air pollution in the latest year. "

Draw your own conclusions and check you don't have an extra ear ( = from ear to ear 😉 )

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