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A new study hits home how dangerous greenhouse gases are, claiming that aggressive reductions would not just alleviate climate change, but could avoid up to 3 million premature deaths every year by 2100.
Air pollution has long been linked to low birth weight and a raft of other health concerns such as respiratory illness, heart and kidney disease and lung cancer.
The new study shows the potential lives saved by carbon emissions cuts incrementally: in 2030, aggressive carbon cuts would avoid 300,000-700,000 premature deaths a year, jumping to 800,000 and then to as many as 1.8 million in 2050 and 1.4 million to 3 million in 2100.
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“Actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions often reduce co-emitted air pollutants, bringing co-benefits for air quality and human health…Air quality and health co-benefits, especially as they are mainly local and near-term, provide strong additional motivation for transitioning to a low-carbon future,” the paper stated.
The experts behind the study also claim that the health benefits linked to reducing greenhouse gas emissions are worth some $50 to $380 per one ton of CO2.
Globally, air pollution has contributed to 3.2 million deaths, ranking it seventh on the global list of risk factors for death.
China and East Asia stand to benefit most from reduced air pollution, the study found; health care savings in that region would surpass the costs of curbing carbon emissions 10- to 70-fold.
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NASA’s new map displays the regions of the world most prone to early death from air pollution, with China, Europe and India displaying some of the worst rates of pollution-induced premature death.
In the US, exposure to air pollution leads to about 200,000 premature deaths each year, with California having the highest rates. One-fifth of Americans live near roads with higher air pollution.
In China, air pollution represents the fourth-leading risk factor for deaths in the country, where it was linked to 1.2 million premature deaths.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com