Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Fossil fuels kill

We need to dramatically reduce use of fossil fuels in order to reduce carbon emissions and prevent the planet from becoming uninhabitable. But there's another reason to do it as well: because fossil fuels are killing us:

Air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil was responsible for 8.7m deaths globally in 2018, a staggering one in five of all people who died that year, new research has found.

Countries with the most prodigious consumption of fossil fuels to power factories, homes and vehicles are suffering the highest death tolls, with the study finding more than one in 10 deaths in both the US and Europe were caused by the resulting pollution, along with nearly a third of deaths in eastern Asia, which includes China. Death rates in South America and Africa were significantly lower.

The enormous death toll is higher than previous estimates and surprised even the study’s researchers. “We were initially very hesitant when we obtained the results because they are astounding, but we are discovering more and more about the impact of this pollution,” said Eloise Marais, a geographer at University College London and a study co-author. “It’s pervasive. The more we look for impacts, the more we find.”

Eliminating fossil fuels and the air pollution they cause means 20% more of us live. It also means the rest of us lead healthier, better lives. Putting this dirty, toxic industry out of business really is a matter of our survival or theirs.