May 10, 2017

Paying the price for clean air

Paying the price for clean air


It’s getting hard to breathe all over the place. In global megacities people can’t go out because of the constant smog. In poorer homes people must get out if they don’t want inhale the dirty smoke from a wood- or kerosene-fired stove that cooks the food and keeps the place warm. Either way, the cost of clean air is high and rising fast.

To add to the bad news, new research shows air pollution attacks not only the human respiratory system but the brain itself. It’s scary stuff: the nano particles attached to air molecules are transported all the way to the membranes in the brain where they prey on our cognitive abilities. We’re only beginning to understand what kind of havoc exactly that wreaks in the long-term, but whatever it is, it’s not good.

What’s the value of clean air? How much would you pay for not having lung or brain damage? To yourself? Your family? Others? The children who can’t choose their surroundings? These are some of the very real and very hard questions. Even under the best scenarios, no governmental action alone is sufficient to turn the situation around. Economic and demographic pressures are just too massive. We need catalysing and booster effects that can only come from entrepreneurial action for scalable impact: we need businesses that make clean air for all.

In affluent parts of the world we can get the job done pretty easily. Though we may not like it, we make the investments and pay the premiums that allow us enjoy shiny clean immediate habitats. That’s not an issue. The issue is what’s beyond my own back yard: until clean air is a global good it won’t be sustainable for anybody. We, who can, need to take more risk to make clean air a reality for everybody. What businesses should we invest in and what products should we buy to ensure clean air for every global citizen? That’s the billion dollar question.  The good news is whoever gets the answer at least somewhat right, will not only enjoy breathing cleaner air, but laugh all the way to the bank, too.

Share this:

Written by Ville Luukkanen

Recent Posts

What is our carbon footprint?

March 24, 2017

Climate discussion in Finland has taken some absurd turns. People are asking with new emphasis: why should we actually care about our own carbon footprint, because no matter what we do, there will always be more people in China or India, and everything there grows much faster? This type of thinking is sad. It’s a Read More ›

Iglu stands for inclusion

October 27, 2016

It is with excitement that we introduce Impact Iglu’s new lead Ville Luukkanen. Ville is a senior expert on inclusive business and takes up Iglu’s overall leadership after working as a strategy consultant for African Management Services Company in Johannesburg. Twenty years ago very few businesses took sustainability seriously. Some were outright hostile, many just plain Read More ›

Duara gears up for future

August 8, 2016

Duara Travels, the winner of our first Impact Business Competition in 2015, graduated last week from the ’16 batch of Summer of Startups, Aalto ES’s 9-week accelerator program. We sat down with Duara’s Johanna Vierros on the final Demo Day to catch up on their journey so far. The last time we talked in March you were about Read More ›

Recap: Impact Business Competition 2016

June 2, 2016

Our second Impact Business Competition gathered seven teams to Design Factory over May 27–29 to tackle some of the most pressing social problems of our time. This year Leaderpool – a gamified online platform tackling gender inequality – took home the winning prize. The second ever Impact Business Competition (IBC) took over Aalto Design Factory last weekend, bringing Read More ›

Impact Iglu: Announcing our plans for 2015-2016

September 20, 2015

We kicked off the Impact Iglu initiative in December 2014 and by all means we have proven that in Helsinki and Finland there are people who care and people who wish to change the world through the power of business. It was incredibly rewarding to see individuals getting together to make this world a better Read More ›