According to new research conducted by Harvard University, 1 in 5 deaths, or about 8 million, can be directly linked to air pollution from fossil fuel combustion. The byproduct of their combustion can trigger asthma attacks, heart disease, strokes, and even cause lung cancer.
While it is a well-known fact that fossil fuels release greenhouse gases, they also release tiny poisonous particles that are referred to as PM2.5. These particles are small enough to enter the lungs of humans and animals.
The link between air pollution and premature death is strong.
Clear Link to Air Pollution
The researchers found a very clear link between air pollution and premature deaths. A majority of the deaths (62%) came from countries with the highest level of air pollution, China (3.9 million) and India (2.5 million).
A similar type of research occurred in 2019, however, researchers utilized different technology this time.
The researchers were able to use Harvard’s 3D model of the world’s atmospheric chemistry. This provides better data because it allows researchers to look at smaller sections of the world and track local pollution.
One of the main benefits of this type of data collection is that it allows researchers to determine the cause of pollution in an area. Thus, you can separate pollution from non-fossil fuel combustion in a specific region.
As a result, the data is more reliable than discoveries of the previous research team, which relied an satellite imagery.
The Transition is Already Underway
Fortunately, the world is moving towards a future that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. Instead, clean energy sources like wind and solar are becoming more prominent in usage.
This is due to shrinking prices, improvements to the technology, and a push from investors.
Most recently, oil prices sank and have remained low for nearly a year. And when combined with overall lower demand, as a result of the pandemic, oil companies have lost billions.
Thus, air pollution from fossil fuels may decrease faster than expected.
The Paris Agreement Is The Solution
The world is already aware that it must transition from fossil fuels like coal and oil to clean renewable energy like solar and wind. In fact, the Paris Agreement was created for this very purpose. And it outlines the need for such a transition and how it can be achieved.
It also has nearly every country’s signature.
However, research has indicated that most nations are not following through on their promises.
Another research group has already indicated that by adopting policies in the Paris Accord, more lives can be saved by 2040.
In particular, the research found that 5.84 million lives could be saved by adopting healthier eating habits. Another 1.15 million lives could be saved by adopting a more active lifestyle.
And this doesn’t account for reduction of fossil fuel combustion.
Thus, we can save even more lives with the transition.
Reducing air pollution goes hand-in-hand with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Not only will it help us live longer lives, but it will also ensure the planet is sustainable for generations to come.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.