"It is undeniably horrific that more than 2.8 million people have died of Covid-19 in the past 15 months. In roughly the same period, however, more than three times as many likely died of air pollution. This should disturb us for two reasons. One is the sheer number of air pollution deaths – 8.7 million a year, according to a recent study – and another is how invisible those deaths are, how accepted, how unquestioned. The coronavirus was a terrifying and novel threat, which made its dangers something much of the world rallied to try to limit. It was unacceptable – though by shades and degrees, many places came to accept it, by deciding to let the poor and marginalized take the brunt of sickness and death and displacement and to let medical workers get crushed by the workload...”
This is the start of Rebecca Solnit’s recent piece in The Guardian.
Full Guardian article.
On 8 February, University College London published research results showing that worldwide about 1 in 5 deaths every year can be attributed to fossil fuel pollution, a figure much higher than previously thought. The study shows that 8.7 million people around the globe die each year as a result of breathing in air containing particles from burning fuels like coal, petrol and diesel, which aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma and can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, strokes and early death.
What about the UK ? The researchers reckon that in 2012 fine particles were a contributory factor in 99,000 deaths in the UK, more than double the estimate published in 2016 by the Royal College of Physicians of 40,000 deaths a year from all sources of air pollution. Professor Eloise Marais of UCL said that “Burning fossil fuels produces fine particles laden with toxins small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs. We cannot in good conscience continue to rely on fossil fuels, when we know that there are such severe effects on health and viable, cleaner alternatives.”
Read more at the UCL website