Friday, October 20, 2017

Nine Million a Year, But Who's Counting?

Other than The Lancet, that is. A study published in the prestigious British medical journal finds that 9 million premature deaths are caused every year by man-made pollution.

With our new Blade Runner sensibilities that figure should elicit a yawn and be down the memory hole within days. 

Sure, it means that our toxic emissions are killing more of us than all of our wars and smoking combined but, so what?

The vast majority of the pollution deaths occur in poorer nations and in some, such as India, Chad and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths. The international researchers said this burden is a hugely expensive drag on developing economies.

“Pollution is one of the great existential challenges of the [human-dominated] Anthropocene era,” concluded the authors of the Commission on Pollution and Health, published in the Lancet on Friday. “Pollution endangers the stability of the Earth’s support systems and threatens the continuing survival of human societies.”

Prof Philip Landrigan, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, US, who co-led the commission, said: “We fear that with nine million deaths a year, we are pushing the envelope on the amount of pollution the Earth can carry.” For example, he said, air pollution deaths in south-east Asia are on track to double by 2050.

Dire warning duly noted and filed under "dire warnings." That file is getting pretty thick. Still, it's an interesting benchmark, another milestone in humanity's march to whatever waits ahead.

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