Air pollution killed nearly 10,000 Americans in 2018, and 2019 must have seen a similar total.
Andrew Winston makes an alarming point in a Medium article that he wrote on this topic. The article passed through my feed and the headline immediately caught my attention. It’s alarming because it’s true: no one really paid attention to the fact that thousands of Americans died prematurely in 2018 due to rising air pollution. These thousands who died are not in India — although I am sure thousands have died there, too — but right here in the United States. These ~10,000 deaths happened right here in the United States, and another ~10,000 in 2019, and another ~10,000 will die prematurely in 2020.
In Winston’s article, there is a map of American air pollution from 2014. It shows concentration levels of daily average small particulate matter at less than 2.5 micrometers across (PM2.5) in 2014. PM2.5 are really tiny air particles that you are breathing in right now because they are mixed into the air we breathe. These particles make their way into our lunges and our circulatory systems.
Some highlights from the article include:
- 7 million people die early each year because of air pollution (globally). These deaths are caused by strokes, heart attacks, lung and respiratory infections that are deadly. In fact, asthma is on the rise thanks to air pollution.
- In 2019, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that the U.S. had an increase in air pollution, with a focus on (PM2.5).
- The EPA and Washington Post report that, in 2018, eroding air quality was linked to nearly 10,000 additional deaths in the U.S. This was due to the rise in PM2.5 in 2016, which, according to the study, had three main contributing factors to this rise: increased economic activity, increased wildfires, and the rollback of regulatory enforcement and protection during the Trump Administration.
If you look at that last bullet point, you can see that all three of these can be prevented.
Increased economic activity in 2018 meant more use of natural gas and more driving. However, if people continue to switch to electric cars and renewable energy, eventually, that will put a big dent into this toxic mess of pollution we are breathing. Unfortunately, for some, it is already too late. People are dying just from breathing this stuff.
Wildfires are another issue. Australia is burning. No, we cannot control wildfires, but we can wake up and realize that climate change is real. We don’t need people like Meatloaf closing their eyes and pretending that nothing is wrong while we have an entire continent in flames. Choosing to be ignorant is costing people their lives.
The last one is by someone I didn’t vote for. President Trump rolled back regulatory enforcement and protection of our environment. It’s not just the air we breathe that this administration is affecting, but also the foods we eat. I sometimes wonder if Trump is just trying to kill us all off. It may seem ludicrous to think that, but rolling back protections that make our food and air safe do not seem to show that he cares about our world and the people in it.
“The Trump Administration rollback of air protection regulations is killing thousands of Americans.” —Andrew Winston
As Andrew points out, the very agencies that are supposed to keep our air, water, and climate healthy have abandoned us. This is killing Americans. While people choose to look the other way and play pretend until it happens to them, people are struggling.
But not just in America. My heart really goes out to those in Australia. I mean, the entire continent and several islands are being engulfed in flames as I type this.
Our politicians have got to do better. A friend of mine says they are hoping to start wars and create “end times” situations in order to bring Jesus back because this is what they — many extreme conservative and Evangelical Christians — want. This type of thinking gives politicians and those who believe in these things an excuse to say, “Well, God’s gonna come anyway, so screw the planet.” I’ve actually had someone tell me this.
If there is a God, he or she would want us to care for the planet that was given to us. Not destroy it.
Please note, though, that I said “extreme” in the paragraph above. Extremism can affect more than one ideology. The problem is that it is so extreme that it harms us.
Infographics courtesy WHO
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