We have already pointed out that failure to connect the diverse consequences of fossil fuels use misses the opportunity to strengthen the case for an urgent switch to renewables: “Failing to connect the fossil fuel dots of climate change and health”
New research published by The Lancet and reported by Science Daily states:”Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths”, and this adds more evidence to this link and the need for campaigners to look at these issues in a connected way rather than the fragmented response we see today, which plays into the hands of deniers and fossil fuels advocates who follow the neoliberal dogma of profit at any cost. Very few Climate Change activists mention deaths caused by cardiovascular, respiratory and kidney disease and children stunted development brought about by pollution and the WHO concentrates on health and obviates environmental catastrophe.
“The 2018 Report of the research coalition The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change shows that rising temperatures as a result of climate change are already exposing us to an unacceptably high health risk and warns, for the first time, that older people in Europe and the East Mediterranean are particularly vulnerable to extremes of heat, markedly higher than in Africa and SE Asia. The risk in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean stems from aging populations living in cities, with 42% and 43% of over-65s respectively vulnerable to heat. In Africa, 38% are thought to be vulnerable, while in Asia it is 34%.
“The report also states that ambient air pollution resulted in several million premature deaths from ambient fine particulate matter globally in 2015, a conclusion from IIASA researchers confirming earlier assessments. Since air pollution and greenhouse gases often share common sources, mitigating climate change constitutes a major opportunity for direct human health benefits.
“Leading doctors, academics and policy professionals from 27 organizations have contributed analysis and jointly authored the report. Alongside IIASA, the partners behind the research include the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), University College London and Tsinghua University, among others.
“IIASA researcher Gregor Kiesewetter led a team from the Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases research program that estimated the dangers of air pollution to human health. A new and important finding this year was the global attribution of deaths to source. Kiesewetter and the team found that coal alone accounts for 16% of pollution-related premature deaths, around 460,000, which they state makes phasing out coal-use a “crucial no-regret intervention for public health.”
These trends are not unconnected from other markers of a dehumanised unequal society. Children in inner city schools are exposed to more air pollution than those living in more affluent neighbourhoods and poorer countries to which the rich West has outsourced production suffer more pollution and consequences of raising sea levels and destruction of their environment. Support for “Green New Deals”, environmental campaigning and local resistance to fracking and pipelines are but examples of progressive activation amongst part of the population, but the political direction is still dominated by the most retrograde policies. This means that at the point of voting the majority of people are not well informed and believe the populist appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Each person can become a beacon of well researched useful information in their communities. That is the starting point of a humanised, wise, compassionate and strong society.