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. We have a paradigm with which to model the energy industry. The technology revolution saved America’s economic a**. The US was going down the industrial tubes when, in the seventies, consumerism was fed a new product(s). Millions of jobs were created in the US as well as around the world and perhaps a few million trees were not cut down for paper. Whatever the environmental argument, the arguments regarding what is needed and what is simply superfluous, the arguments regarding who gets paid what, around the time the tech revolution took off, the US industrial base had been severely depleted and the middle class was fast eroding, case in point the US auto industry. One can point the finger all one wants and there is plenty of pointing that needs to be done. However, if it weren’t for the tech revolution the US would be further along the road that it has been taking.

    With today’s technology, the world can create an industry around renewable energy sources that can employ millions on a constant basis as technology advances and a wind turbine that produces 50 times what one produced yesterday is developed and replaces 50 obsolete turbines. This happens to be going on right now but not in the US. There, as someone once penned, is the rub and the question; why is the US not doing this? Why are there not millions of jobs being created in this industry?

    The answer that it’s not yet economical is bogus. If that were true then the economies of Denmark, Germany, India, China, etc would be in much worse shape. Denmark presently exports 40% of the world’s heavy wind turbines, employing tens of thousands of high paid workers, unfortunately in Denmark. Here in the US we get the installation and service jobs. The answer that the status quo is resisting this new industry is obvious. The oil, gas, and coal industries don’t want to give up their piece of the pie to anyone else. The joke, however, will be on us when those pieces are taken by foreign renewable energy corporations. Good for the global corporate people, bad for Americans.

    That is why we cannot afford to elect a Republican for the Presidency. We have already done too much damage by giving the Congress and Senate to this most dysfunctional and puppet like gang. Electing a Republican President would eclipse the disaster that was the three stooges. Or, what about the old check and balance? More graphically and immediately, just watch GOP debate.

    The American political system is in sore need of restructuring: eliminating concentrated funding, increasing parties, informing voters of the issues, etc. Presently it is a sewer and Clinton is the best rat for the job. Sanders will get nowhere with the mob in the House. Any of the GOP choices range from wrong to just plain scary.

  2. There are those who believe there is a [secret] world-wide effort to reduce the Earth’s population. Perhaps pollution is just part of said initiative. And, perhaps strong arguments by politicians and others for pollution control is just a smoke-screen (no pun intended) to divert attention away from said initiative.

  3. I think it’s a mistake, or at least inaccurate, to conflate the particulate emissions that are responsible for the deaths with greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that are being blamed (rightly or wrongly) for increasing temps on the planet. If we’re going to have a rational discussion about climate change, let’s stick to the facts.

  4. Pollution doesn’t kill people. People kill people. Don’t take away our 2nd Amendment rights!

  5. Speaking of our responsibility in the worst polluters, bananas are one thing I absolutely refuse to buy conventional. I toured a banana packing facility in the Caribbean once. The men all had rings of fungus all over their bodies, every single last one of them. You see, they spray bananas with anti-fungals to protect the delicate fruit. Like the overuse of antibiotics, that leads to the rise of super fungus in the workers. It’s our dollars buying that poisoned fruit that funds these conditions for the workers.

  6. Yes, China, Russia, and India are the worst pollution.

    But we share some of the blame in their toxic waste. We shop by price, so as we vote to make manufacturing and business more expensive here, we also vote with our dollars to buy products made overseas, where they don’t care about worker conditions or pollution. We’re hypocrites, including me. I buy organic whenever possible, but I could walk through my house right now and find many things made in China, including, probably, this computer and my iPhone. When our electronics are obsolete in a mere 2 years, they get shipped to India, where little kids sift through toxic e-waste to glean components to recycle or melt down.

    Maybe we should find some way to stop contributing to China and India’s pollution.

    And as for Russia, communist and socialist countries are the worst polluters. I’m also pretty sure that since capitalism was destroyed in Venezuela, the people could care less about the climate. They went from that cliche, “you fall out of a tree into a Cadillac in Venezuela” to inflation of 700% and shortages of bread and toilet paper. Once you spoil the economy and make everyone helpless and dependent on an unaccountable government, that government stops caring if it poisons you or the world.

    And yet, the Left is plowing ahead with radical left wing policies that are some of the drivers of immigrants to this very country. People flee real socialist countries and come here for a better life.

    If the “Bern baby Bern” people have their way, we’ll be Venezuela one day. When you can’t afford to buy food, you won’t give a single thought to penguins, polar bears, or the state of the smelt.

  7. LA pollution used to be so bad it drifted over to China. Now it’s their turn. What most of the idiots that run things don’t understand is that there is much more money/wealth/good to be had by doing it right than doing it the way it is done right now. This short term gain mentality is responsible for most of the world’s woes.

  8. How many people would die each year without access to the electricity these plants provide each year to homes and hospitals, etc.? Tens of millions? Hundreds of millions? The people who couldn’t get this coal-fired electricity to heat their homes and cook would go back to burning wood in their homes and generating even MORE pollutions and particulate, with worse health effects. The NET effect of this power generation is, without a doubt, to SAVE millions of lives.

    Listen, I don’t like pollution any more than anyone else and think China and India should certainly be pushed to clean up their emissions for all of our sakes, but these decisions don’t get made in the vacuum of a perfect world. People dying of starvation in abject poverty can’t afford to take the “long view” on raising the standard of living–they need modernization now to survive– and secondary considerations like long-term effects of pollution are way down the road for them. I’m glad we have the first world luxury of debating how much additional cost we should add to power generation to preserve our quality of living, and I hope we can continue to develop cleaner solutions and educate these rising economies.

    1. Calyspso. You are so right. Being able to debate this gives me hope that we will work all this out someday. No one in their right mind would want to live next to a nuclear power plant or any other plant that gives off pollution. We have to get rid of some of the faux science though that is focusing on climate change rather than curing the pollution. If the source is pollution, why not solve the pollution and then we will know if is humans causing climate change or not. If we are causing climate change, we still need to solve the pollution problem first. We need to obviously focus on pollution. A coal plant can scrub off huge amounts of emissions and we are going more and more electric in transportation. Government is manipulating the market place to much making it hard to focus on and stop those companies who produce the greatest amount of pollution. Governments obviously not going to get it done. I can’t fight against both private enterprise and government at the same time because much of the time they’re in collusion.

      When I reviewed the government expenditures several years back on alternative/sustainable energy, I was kind of surprised, but not really, that the majority of research and grant money went to major oil, natural gas and coal corporations. It’s gotten better but not much.

      Recognizing the problem is one thing, finding a solutions in such a gerry rigged society is another.

  9. Now, they want to take one of our power plants away because it is coal-fired. How are the Navahos going to make money any more.

  10. If you visit the Grand Canyon, the haze you see is pollution from Los Angeles. Arizona has to put up with pollution from CA, beside our home-grown pollution. Then of course, we are in the middle of a major desert, the Sonoran. When we have our annual dust storms, we get fined for polluting the air. Someone in D.C. seriously wanted us to pave the desert. Ah, Washington, D.C. a town where they know it all.

  11. Hmmm, Coming from two of the most communist countries in the world. America is not that great either. Led by the demopublicans, our government is one of the largest polluters in the world and subsidies many of the worst polluting industries like the big sugar growers.

    Two many of you are still in the matrix, believing that the two parties are “not” in collusion. Get out while you still have a mind left from their drug pushing big pharma, sick care system. Let’s never cure anything when we can just cover up the symptoms. Even though many have cured their cancer, the allopaths still continue Chemo and Radiation, with the three percent chance of surviving more than 5 years.

  12. “This is entirely consistent with the Koch Brothers policy of expanding global warming and killing off the wildlife and penguins”

    And then people wonder why we can’t have a calm and rational discussion about the environment and climate issues.

  13. We don’t need no stinking pollution regs! Let business do what business needs to do! Get out of their way and let America be great again! After all, think of all the jobs that pollution creates. Ambulance drivers, hospital staff, morticians, grave diggers, and landscapers to name just a few. And with people dying off sooner, that opens their jobs to the marketplace. And those people would die anyways by being hit in the head with falling turbine blades or solar panel waste inhalation. What’s not to like? Pollution is an economic engine. Thank you. Vote republican! Paid for by the Pollution is Good for America PAC.

  14. When you watch the videos on television of the air pollution in China they will show dense clouds of smog. They also show the citizens of China with masks on. They take the mask off to the side to smoke their cigarettes. This is entirely consistent with the Koch Brothers policy of expanding global warming and killing off the wildlife and penguins. If you can addict them to tobacco early and get them to smoke often, then you have won the battle. This is in line with the One Child Policy in China to try to stem the population. So keep on smoking folks. There are too many Americans on the globe too.

  15. Good point Darren. I’ve often wondered where that conversation has gone over the past generation. Climate change appears to be a threat, but we have the poisoning going on right now.

  16. I too, here in southeastern Washington state, am affected by the Chinese pollution.

  17. We should also recognize that China’s environmental problems are also ours. China puts so much mercury into the atmosphere heavy metals are finding their way into otherwise pristine creeks and streams here. As a child, my family fished for trout on the Wenatchee river several miles upstream from Leavenworth. This, and many other sources of trout now produce fish having elevated levels of mercury. It is very disappointing, and I am only one man of the rest of those in the world affected to varying degrees–and there are none who aren’t.

  18. We also need to remember that a very vocal force is also opposing it in the United States as well–we need to be cognizant of the rhetoric from the current crowd of GOP candidates. At least there are some “friendly” noises coming out of China. I also note that the problem in Iran is also very very challenging.

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