Global Warming Gets the Headlines. People Dying from Dirty Air Do Not

Fifty-five years after Lyndon Johnson signed the Clean Air Act, the rest of the world has yet to catch up.

Scrapyard fire with billowing smoke
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Motherboard reports that air pollution continues to kill millions of people worldwide:

Air pollution caused the premature deaths of 600,000 children in 2016, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released Monday … A staggering 93 percent of people under 15 years old—some 1.8 billion children and teenagers—are breathing toxic air ...

WHO estimates that seven million people prematurely die from the combined effects of HAP [hazardous air pollutants] and AAP [ambient air pollution] every year, but children are far more vulnerable because their respiratory, nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems are still in development.

I need to point out what rarely gets attention today: The U.S. leads the world in clean air. Check out the U.N. report and see that less than 10% of U.S. residents are exposed to the smallest and most dangerous particulate matter, the kind that gets deep into your lungs and stays there. The U.S. is in a very small group of clean air countries that includes Canada, New Zealand, Scandinavian countries and Iceland. Every other country is worse. It’s a great story, and it’s the result of decades of work and commitment.

I also need to point out what gets too much attention today: The three decades-long drumbeat predicting a global public health disaster caused by climate change. It still hasn’t happened. The same U.N. sounded the alarm again on October 6th. Just wait a little longer, they said, it’s still coming but it’s gonna be worse than we ever thought. Uh huh.

Exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths every year. Those are real people and they really suffered. Come January 1st each year, the clock starts ticking on the lives of another 7 million people. And global warming? Maybe the U.N. and others should get help with their predictions. I hear Paul R. Ehrlich is available.