Report: Pollution Kills 5.5 Million People Worldwide Each Year

220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksThere 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.

Source: BBC

35 thoughts on “Report: Pollution Kills 5.5 Million People Worldwide Each Year”

  1. Karen,

    As a kid growing up with the cold war in full bloom, the whole U.S.S.R. communist thing used to really creep me out. I can distinctly remember thinking, how do people vote for communism? The idea was so foreign to me. Never in a million years would I have thought our great nation would entertain such a govt. but, here we are. I still believe the fix is in for the liar Hillary. I am very pessimistic about the future since the lazy have gotten way to large and the younger gen has been dumbed down so far that they willing to even sign a petition to remove the first amendment. Even our last line of defense, the SCOTUS, are a worthless bunch and they are about to get worse with Scalia’s passing. Things will have to get even worse before they get better.

  2. It’s true that subsidies and the government picking the winners and losers has interfered with innovation and the evolution of alternative energy. And we do throw up road blocks in the ways of inventors and innovators, who become the enemy once they have a business to build.

    There are so many ways the government can help by staying out of the way and operating within its means and core purpose. Just think of what will happen if Bernie Sanders gets elected, who thinks a 90% tax rate is not too high.

    Maybe this will be the turning point where the US turns into Venezuela, where they have toilet paper shortages and no one gives a darn about the environment because the government wrecked their ability to buy food and prosper. Government tried to “help” there, too.

  3. Karen,
    You will never win with Isaac. He doesn’t understand base load energy. His world is one of unicorns and rainbows. I currently work at a cement plant as an engineer and we use a 4000V 4,500hp motor to run a mill. And oh yea, we have 6 of these mills. This is only the mill area. We have two levels of rock crushers, countless 250 hp. dust collection blowers. One only has to come and walk through our plant and you will quickly realize that the solar/wind pipe dream is just that. In fact, when we start all of our equipment, we have to notify the power company pump up the volume so to speak. I’ve also worked in the gas turbine power gen arena. Worked with people way smarter than me and Isaac and not one of them that I know believed in solar or wind. In fact, I got to work along side one of GE’s top wind guys and he flat out told me what a crock it was. I was actually shocked. I thought he would for sure be for wind.

    Cheap energy is how an economy accelerates, not by govt. crony capitalism. The biggest issue I see is that there aren’t enough “two guys in a garage” experimenting anymore because of an over regulated/taxed people. I currently have a patent that I have not acted on because I really do not feel like dealing with the red tape and paying more taxes to lazy people and a jerk of a president. This is the environment that Isaac’s vision has given and taken from us.

  4. What does climate change have to do with air pollution? Infact synoptically climate change should reduce other atmospheric pollution. All that “crap” should rain out as the atmoshere warms and takes on more humidity before taking massive rain “dumps”. Just walk thru the plastic isle of walmart or tractor supply….that raunch you smell is ppl in china getting cancer. ….making it….and us getting cancer here shopping for it. That pollution has nothing to do with climate change….indeed climate change may save lives by rains wringing the atmosphere down stream of major populations.

  5. “You can cherry pick the worst possible examples and make anything negative.”

    No, I’m not cherry picking, and I’m not against clean renewable energy. I think they’re the wave of the future if government incompetence doesn’t ruin the industry. As the article mentions, subsidies are more of a handicap to innovation and improvement than anything else. They interfere with the almost Darwinian evolution of technology by allowing substandard iterations to proliferate. Remove the subsidies, and you’ll only get the most efficient and cost effective. I would prefer the government limit its involvement to research grants. Invest in R&D and don’t play venture capitalist or subsidize.

    My point is that you can’t ignore problems. You cannot just say, “let’s just get rid of fossil fuels today, this very second. Those pesky Republicans are totally evil and it’s all their fault.”

    “Wind farms in remote areas are less damaging to the environment including birds, bats, and bees than the burning of fossil fuels.” Based on what??? Have you not read the studies indicating that they absolutely decimate bird and bat populations, including endangered species? Ecologists are very concerned. Since the units are white, they attract insects at night, which in turn attract bats, to be chopped up like in a blender. That can tilt an entire ecosystem, as it’s bats that help keep insect numbers in check, which in turn protects against damage to crops, vegetation, and plagues from biting insects.

    It is false logic to try to extrapolate future damage to bird populations based on computer models of Climate Change, while completely ignoring all the actual carcasses on the ground. I just cannot understand the blind faith in wind technology, when it so clearly needs to go back to the lab to be improved. And I think it can be improved. It would be such a waste if we carpeted the US with wind farms, and spent all that money, only to discover that if we had only waited a few years, the technology could have been improved to remove the bugs. We would be stuck with the beta test, and who knows how many bird species would go extinct.

    It’s a bit of a paradox how some of the very people who strongly object to the threat of extinction of the tiny smelt or the noble polar bear can simultaneously ignore the very real threat of extinction of numerous bird species, because it is done by their pet project, wind power. If it’s “for the environment”, then species be damned.

    You need to get over that because it’s an emotional position. Pointing out where renewables need to be improved does not mean you are against clean energy. It’s that kind of false logic that makes improving clean energy, and getting it right, so very difficult. Jettison the emotion and party politics, and just focus on the logistics.

  6. Karen

    You can cherry pick the worst possible examples and make anything negative. The facts of the matter are that wind turbine technology has now matched the efficiency of coal and gas costs for producing electricity. Wind farms in remote areas are less damaging to the environment including birds, bats, and bees than the burning of fossil fuels. Private corporations in other countries are making good profits through exporting them to other countries that have yet to get with the program, such as the US. Solar, wind, and soon wave energy producing technologies are the way of the future. The only question is whether the US will be an exporter or an importer of this technology. Thus far the US imports wind turbines instead of exports them. This is not a good thing.

    1. Amalie Callahan –

      Nobody here has studied or undersrood the massive scientific data!


  7. Isaac:

    “Air pollution contributes to climate change. The only issues up for discussion are how much, can we do anything about it, and how to pay for reversing the effects of man produced pollution, that is contributing to climate change.”

    No, that is a misunderstanding of air pollution. The only air pollutants that contribute to climate change are also greenhouse gases. Most air pollutants are not greenhouse gases.

    These are two very different things. The voting public needs to understand this. Sadly, because of this misunderstanding, people may erroneously believe that voting for laws to control climate change will also address all air pollution. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Climate Change laws focus primarily on carbon and methane emissions. Not mercury, sulfur, benzenes, or any other toxin.

    This is exactly what I’m talking about when I refer to climate change laws draining away funding from air and water pollution.

  8. Isaac:

    That’s venture capitalism – investing in companies that have great ideas and not enough money. Government is not a very good venture capitalist.

    Let’s take a look at how the economic “boom” has gone. In the past 7 years, we have given vast sums of money to solar companies, most of which went belly up because it’s so hard to compete with low cost, cheap Chinese made solar panels. There are job training programs in renewable energy that have very poor success rates on people actually getting jobs. The amount of subsidies to keep renewables affordable are astronomical. That has to come from somewhere. Let’s say, hypothetically, every person would need $1,000/month annually to keep their energy costs relatively similar if we went 100% renewable. Where would that money come from?

    “Most renewable energy industries are heavily dependent on government subsidies, and without constant taxpayer support, many renewable energy industries cannot survive. Both American and British renewable energy companies have failed when policymakers decrease subsidies.”

    “For anyone who has been to the United Kingdom, long winter nights and perpetual cloudy weather make solar power less than ideal. Like solar, wind power is intermittent, inefficient and difficult to predict, which makes it hard for electrical grid managers to match energy supply with energy demand. Making wind and solar power reliable will require grid-level interconnection infrastructure and industrial-scale battery storage, both of which are prohibitively expensive.”

    Now, pay attention to this part, because it is little known

    “Most wind and solar installations are not cost-effective on the open market, necessitating a never-ending cycle of subsidies. Without the crutch of guaranteed profit from the government, renewable energy industries will have to innovate so that renewables are reliable, efficient and cost-effective. As long as subsidies exist, taxpayers have to support industries that aren’t economically viable on their own.

    Even if the British government had the desire or ability to provide endless subsidies, renewables are not as eco-friendly as most people assume. Because wind and solar power are intermittent, they require other energy sources, usually fossil fuels, to provide backup power when wind and sunlight aren’t available. Using fossil fuels as backup limits the environmental benefits of using wind and solar power. British subsidies have also caused the perverse effect of deforestation. Subsidies for the biomass industry have made it economical for energy producers to cut down millions of tons of trees in North America to burn in British power plants. The reality of renewable energy sources is less eco-friendly and, in fact, far dirtier than most people would like to think.”

    And before anyone knee-jerks to “this is all Republicans fault and the Koch brothers and it’s an oil conspiracy:”

    “Once renewable energy sources become economically viable and reliable, the industries will flourish.”

  9. Isaac:

    Wind turbines are still in their beta phase. They’re annoyingly loud and choppy, and they kill a great many birds and bats. The technology needs to be improved before we rush into wind power.

    If you bought a wind turbine to power your home, you would feel like a hero for about 15 minutes. Then you would wonder if the noise would ever stop. Then your neighbors would get mad because they can’t get any quiet or sleep. Then a part would break and you would wonder why the heck do these things cost so much? Maybe you should have bought Chinese made, because they’re cheaper. You’ll sit out on your lawn and watch the wildly whirling shadows that never stop. You and your neighbors will get to have those shadows coming through the window forever, like a reverse strobe light. I considered buying a house with wind power, and several of them are in my community. I definitely came away with a very negative opinion about wind energy.

    You have to demand a higher bar than simply “feeling good” about an issue. You can “feel good” about being pro-renewable energy. Most people in fact are for clean renewables. Unfortunately, they are currently so expensive that no one could afford to heat their homes or turn the lights on if it was 100% renewable around the country. We already invest vast amounts of treasure to renewable energy. It’s getting better, but just not there yet. We’re cleaner and greener than we were 40 years ago, and that trend will continue.

    If you look, you can already find the results of rising energy costs – as more of our utility companies meet renewable energy quotas, our energy costs go up. They tell you that in writing when they increase your rates. Now there are ads for wood burning stoves and furnaces “to cut down on rising energy costs.” Great. So now people are going to burn more trees. That is a net loss for the environment. Increasing costs to the point that people die in winter or live in the dark like Medieval Europe is a negative . I suppose we could subsidize clean renewables, but we’re also subsidizing health care and many other things. Is there enough money in the world to subsidize everything the Left plans for? At some point, you run out of money and then the technology has to stand or fail on its own.

    Let clean renewables grow when they are able to. Keep investing in research and development. But they need to be clean, renewable, efficient, AND economical or they will never be successful.

  10. Karen

    Clear as mud. Air pollution contributes to climate change. The only issues up for discussion are how much, can we do anything about it, and how to pay for reversing the effects of man produced pollution, that is contributing to climate change. My position is that the world economies received a needed boost with the tech revolution and its 80% of stuff that is absolutely unnecessary, imagine the economic as well as environmental boost an energy revolution would bring, regardless of semantics.

  11. Let me clarify:

    Air pollution and climate change are two, very different things. It appears that the two are being confused.

    Air pollution is toxins or particulates in the environment that specifically cause death or disease – examples are acid rain, or the toxic cloud permanently clouding China that is literally a poison gas. Or it could be particulates that interfere with respiration. There were some infamous volcanic eruptions that smothered all life for many miles around because the fine ash choked respiratory systems.

    Air pollution is universally recognized as bad.

    Sadly, it no longer has the cache or funding of global warming.

    Anthropogenic climate change, previously global warming, refers to greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane, neither of which are at poisonous levels. Unfortunately, there was some serious wrongdoing and negligence on the part of climate scientists, including moving weather stations, comparing data on modern instruments with data gathered a hundred years ago on less accurate instruments, conflict of interest, the failure of every single computer model, but most damning, the loss of original data. Inexplicably, the data just disappeared and we have homogenized data only for large parts of climate science. Data that is homogenized is supposed to be adjusted to account for heat island effects of nearby human activity and cities, the growth or removal of shade trees, and other phenomenon that could skew the data. Since no computer model has been accurate, to date, one of course questions the homogenization process. Typically, raw data is provided to the public so that the scientific community can agree or disagree. This data is just gone. You just have to trust that they massaged the data correctly.

    The end result is that this caused shockwaves of mistrust. That is utterly and entirely the fault of those scientists and researchers involved who failed to follow good documentation practices and ethical guidelines. You can’t make such egregious mistakes and then blame people for no longer trusting you. You have to put on your big boy pants, and start from scratch so your conclusions and data are clean. Get over it – that’s science.

    Climate change could be anthropogenic, or not. People certainly have caused deserts from over grazing and logging over the centuries, as in the lost cedar forests of Lebanon. Our biggest impact on the Earth, in fact, is probably going to be our affect on vegetation, our oxygen factories and air scrubbers. The more we denude the Earth, the poorer and dirtier our air. I also think that you cannot spew gases into the atmosphere indefinitely without eventually affecting the gaseous profile, which must be within a certain range to support mammalian life.

    It also appears that the fact that the cleanest nations also have strict climate control laws has been assumed to be causal. It is not. Nations with climate control laws also are democratic, answerable more or less to the people. The people do not want air pollution or climate change, and so the government responds. They also have stricter pollution laws. China could care less about either, no matter what lip service it gives.

    So resist the urge to claim that Climate Change is the same as air pollution. These are very different issues. It would make the Earth a cleaner place now, today, if we focused more of our efforts on air pollution than Climate Change. Many of the same methods that reduce air pollution would also affect greenhouse gases. So, win-win. I wish we would stop draining so much funding away from water and air pollution into the glamorous Climate Change movement.

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