There is a disturbing report from the Global Burden of Disease project that more than 5.5 million people worldwide are dying prematurely every year as a result of air pollution. It is likely to be no surprise that the greatest lethality is found in China and India. Ironically, those are the countries that have opposed efforts to curtail greenhouse gases and combat climate change.
The primary source of the pollution remains power plants, factories, vehicle exhausts and from the burning of coal and wood. Breathing in tiny liquid or solid particles increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, respiratory complaints and cancer.
The numbers are staggering. In China, roughly 1.6 million die each year while in India the figure is roughly 1.3 million. Yet, even with such studies, the threat from pollution remains an abstraction for many people who often do not associate pollution with a direct threat to their lives or health. More concrete factors like jobs and taxes often drive policy. There is little blame for these deaths on politicians.