Pollution Pods' journey to COP26
This October, Pollution Pods by the artist Michael Pinsky will travel to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to bring home the health impact of air pollution and the climate crisis.
Air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people globally each year. The pods will allow visitors to experience some of the worst quality air on the planet, and understand why action on air pollution is urgently needed.
The five pods will start in London, then disperse and drift north. Lone pods will touch down in Birmingham, Sheffield, Lancaster and Newcastle. They will reunite as a family in Glasgow on the eve of COP26, with a call for world leaders to make air pollution an explicit priority in climate action and sustainable development activities.
The Pollution Pods are a series of geodesic domes whose air quality, smell and temperature accurately recreate the pollution of five different locations on three continents: London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi and Tautra, a remote peninsula in Norway. Pinsky created the pods in 2017 to test whether art can change people’s perceptions of, and actions around, climate change. Now they face their greatest challenge yet - to shift the debate on air pollution and climate change to help secure real change at COP26.
The pods will be accompanied by Ride for their Lives - staff from six UK children’s hospitals who are cycling 800km from London to Glasgow to deliver messages from the international health community including the Healthy Climate Prescription Letter, signed by 450 medical organisations across the globe.
Riders and installation will arrive in Glasgow together to send a message to word leaders to act now on air pollution and climate change.
Pinsky says: “The pods are on a journey across the UK that ends in Glasgow, where the decision-makers are and the future will be decided. On the way they’re reaching out to all these different cities to start a dialogue. The hospital staff on bikes are a bridge, they can find out what air pollution and climate change means to people. The pods and riders can convey to COP26 the visceral experience of air pollution, the clinical expertise on the harm to our bodies, and the impact on people in the UK and around the world, making it much harder for politicians to ignore.”
He adds: “I have tried to distil the whole bodily sense of being in each place. For instance, being in São Paulo seems like a sanctuary compared to New Delhi, until your eyes start to water from the sensation of ethanol.”
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