A peace garden or a garden for peace? The surprising link between clean air and crime and violence

The Rotary Club of St. Andrew fighting crime with a Peace Garden and trees

Want to fight crime, plant a tree.

Believe it or not, there is an increasing link between air pollution and crime and violence.

Likewise, there is also increasing evidence that green spaces and in particular trees can have a positive impact on crime-fighting. But before we get into that let’s explore some interesting facts about air pollution.

Interesting facts about air pollution

Fourth-largest threat to human health: Air pollution is the fourth-largest threat to human health, behind high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking.

  • There were an estimated 6.5 million deaths worldwide from air pollution-related diseases in 2012, WHO data shows.
  • That’s 11.6% of all global deaths — more than the number of people killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined.
  • Almost all deaths (94%) linked to air pollution occur in low- and middle-income countries, the WHO says. Parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, India, China and the Middle East are the biggest regional danger spots.
  • The study by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) calculated the economic cost of air pollution. It found that air pollution led to one in 10 deaths in 2013, which cost the global economy about $225 billion in lost labour income.

1 in 7 new cases of diabetes: Air pollution could be responsible for 1 in 7 new cases of diabetes.

  • New diabetes cases globally that can be attributed to breathing dirty air: about one in seven, or 14% of the total in 2016
  • Contributed to 3.2 million new cases of type 2 diabetes in 2016
  • The loss of 8.2 million years of healthy life due to disability
  • Air pollution is thought to trigger inflammation and reduce insulin production.
  • Contributed to 3.2 million new cases of type 2 diabetes in 2016
  • The loss of 8.2 million years of healthy life due to disability
  • Air pollution is thought to trigger inflammation and reduce insulin production.

Alzheimer’s: and other most hideous neurodegenerative diseases (dementias) are linked with air pollution.

Air pollution is unquestionably a serious public health problem facing the world with serious public and personal health implications, not to mention the economic impacts of lost productivity from ill health and death.

The link between air pollution and violent crime

The evidence linking air pollution and crime and violence is increasingly pointing to not just a correlation but causality. That’s right air pollution is causing crime and violence.

Researchers have found:

A 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in daily exposure to particulates was found to correlate to a 1.4% increase in violent crimes. The team also found that a 0.01 parts-per-million increase in exposure to ozone was associated with a 1.15% increase in assaults.

Scientists now think air pollution is fuelling violent crime — World Economic Forum

When crime statistics and air quality data are compared the link between crime and air pollution comes into shape focus. Data from the United States of America shows a clear overlap between poor air quality and their most violent cities.

An eight-year study of air quality by the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found that there was a clear link between the concentration of pollutants and the prevalence of offences, such as aggravated assault and abusive behaviour.

Air pollution is not only driving crime and violence and is generally bad for our health it is also has been shown in one study to lead to unethical behaviour. It reads “air pollution not only corrupts people’s health, but also can contaminate their morality.”

So, not only is air pollution killing us, causing poor health and diseases such as diabetes and causing crime and violence, it is also making us corrupt and unethical.

The good news is that we have a ready solution to this problem.

Solution — Green spaces and tree planting

Want to fight crime, plant a tree.

But it is also true that if you want to improve general health, fight diabetes, Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative diseases planting trees and creating green spaces is an answer. One study in Philidelphia found that not only did plant trees in abandoned vacant lots in urban areas improved the mental health of the residents in surrounding areas. What is even more remarkable the same study found a 29% drop in gun violence in these neighbourhoods.

There is no getting around it trees and green spaces drive down crime.

Rotary Club of St. Andrew Peace Garden — Enhancement project

Crime and violence is a major issue in Jamaica.

Sadly Jamaica’s crime statistics speak for themselves. We are unfortunately one of the most violent places on earth.

However, all is not lost. There are many programme in place from both the government and civil society tackling the crime monster. One such programme is from the Rotary Club of St. Andrew — a Peace Garden.

The link between air pollution and crime and violence is clear.

The Rotary Club of St. Andrew has taken action and establish a Peace Garden within the Hope Botanical Gardens, the largest urban green space in Jamaica.

For the Rotary Club of St. Andrew fighting crime and violence means fighting air pollution and climate change.

The Peace Garden was established during the 2017/2018 Rotary Year, under the Presidency of Jemelia Davis. The vision for the Peace Garden is to enhance an existing green space by providing a dedicated place designated for peace and conflict resolution.

It is a sustained effort aimed at contributing to the building of a culture of peace in Jamaica and complements the efforts being pursued by Government and Non-government organizations alike.

The club may not think of itself as a group of crime fighters but with the peace garden and our — yes I am also a proud member of this illustrious club — other tree planting initiatives we are just that, crime fighters.

The Peace Garden is a garden for peace.

Meeting the St. Andrew Rotary Club crime fighters!

Originally published at http://www.commerciallawinternational.com on May 23, 2020.



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Ainsley Brown

Ainsley Brown


Special Economic Zone Specialist | Logistics and Global Value Chains Enthusiast | Educator | Blogger | Lawyer| Data Viz Student| Rugby Player