A stealth terrorist that killed ~53,000 Americans last year: air pollution from fossil fuels

By , Clean Technica, 24 Aug 2017

Humans are a funny type of people. We don’t do long-term planning all that well, and that includes planning for a year out, for 5 years out, and for our eventual time of death.  We are frightened of extremely unlikely but direct harms — being in a plane crash, being attacked by terrorists, being mugged on a dark street.  We largely ignore real threats that are much more likely to cause us harm — like air pollution from our cars and our neighbors’ cars.

A World Health Organization (WHO) study a few years ago found that there are 7 million premature deaths a year from outdoor air pollution. There are many, many more people who don’t die young from such pollution but who do suffer in one way or another from it.

In dollar terms (pretending that we can quantify these things), “air pollution from road transport costs OECD countries approximately $1 trillion a year in negative health effects (cancer, premature death, asthma, heart attacks, etc.).”

In the USA, an MIT study found that there are 200,000 premature deaths a year coming from air pollution. Road transportation account for 53,000 of those new deaths.  Electricity generation from coal and natural gas power plants accounted for 52,000 a year.

→ Related: Economic Benefits Of Electric Vehicles

Due in part to all of the driving that takes place in California and its large population, the total number of premature deaths a year in the Golden State was estimated to be 21,000, “mostly attributed to road transportation and to commercial and residential emissions from heating and cooking.”

These are real deaths. These are real people. Yet we treat them like abstract numbers, strangers we’ll never know or become. Few people decide this is enough to make them take action, to make them change things in their lives. If terrorists rolled in from Uzbekistan and murdered 53,000 Americans a year, the population would be up in arms. There would be nonstop outcry and media coverage. Donald Trump, Republicans, Democrats, and Rastafarians would be plowing forward with grand plans to quickly and strongly defeat the terrorists.

If another 52,000 Americans a year were being murdered by another group of terrorists — the “PPP Clan of South Africa*,” for example — the country would be in a state of insane turmoil, angst, imbalance, and war.

Alas, it’s just us. We’re the only ones killing ourselves. No terrorists or gang members. Just the continuous hunt of 200,000 Americans a year from our decisions to burn stuff. If you’re not living in the United States, the story isn’t much different — find the stats for your country. They dwarf anything any other humans are directly doing to the population.

→ Related: Solar & Wind Subsidies = Less Than $0 In USA … Because Clean Energy Saves Lives!

Yes, once upon a time, imagining alternatives to pollution was challenging. Today? You have to be mighty picky to ignore, oppose, and reject cleantech offerings. There are transportation options for a wide variety of classes, driving needs, styling preferences, brand allegiances, etc. There are good rooftop solar options in many marketscommunity solar systems if rooftop doesn’t work, green energy procurement options from utilities, and even a nationwide renewable energy option from Arcadia Power.

But people decide they are more or less fine with the pollution coming out of their tailpipes. They are okay with their electricity sources, even though they probably don’t even know what those are. Heating with natural gas? Well, that’s just they way things go.

If terrorists were killing 53,000 Americans a year and we had easy solutions to stop that, you know we would. It would be a different world in 2018. Unfortunately, these are stealth terrorists, and the country is sleeping like Rip van Winkle.

→ Related: Investigating The Air Pollution Crisis (State of Pollution Series) and our State of Pollution series.

*Power Plant Polluters Clan

https://cleantechnica.com/2017/08/11/investigating-air-pollution-crisis/ In 2012, the World Health Organisation reported that an estimated 7 million people die prematurely each year as a result of the effects of air pollution. That’s a staggering 1 in 8 global deaths.  By any definition, this represents a crisis.

When we move beyond the health costs and start to factor in the financial costs that air pollution inflicts on the world economy, concern only deepens. According to a joint study by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the productivity losses and degraded quality of life due to air pollution costs the world economy $5 trillion per year.

The production of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels is still the single largest cause of air pollution. We are still dependent on fossil fuels for the production of energy and for almost all aspects of transportation. In the US, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to electricity production, with transportation coming in as the second biggest contributor at 26%. Given that our need for energy and transportation is going to keep increasing rather than lessening, something needs to change.

This is a crisis that many have difficulty finding time or space to think about though, because of the financial pressure people are facing

By Jake Johnson, 25 Aug 2017 on Common Dreams

‘Time to Redistribute Wealth’: 1% Thriving While 78% Living Paycheck to Paycheck

As President Trump flaunts booming stock market, most U.S. workers as vulnerable as ever

Responding to the CareerBuilder report on Twitter, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, argued the results show the urgent need for "strong unions" and "an economy that works for us," not merely the wealthiest.

Responding to the CareerBuilder report on Twitter, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, argued the results show the urgent need for “strong unions” and “an economy that works for us,” not merely the wealthiest. (Photo: Steve Rhodes/Flickr/cc)

Top CEOs may be thriving, but most American workers are drowning in debt, saving little, and living paycheck to paycheck.

That’s according to a new report by CareerBuilder, which found that:

  • 78 percent of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, up from 75 percent last year;
  • 71 percent of workers are in debt, up from 68 percent last year;
  • 56 percent believe their debt is unmanageable;
  • 54 percent of minimum-wage workers say they have to work more than one job to make ends meet.

The report’s findings—based on a survey of more than 3,400 full-time workers across various industries and income levels—suggest that the stock market boom President Donald Trump has so frequently flaunted has done little to help the workers he claims to support.

As Michelle Styczynski pointed out in an analysis for the People Policy Project, “the stock market tells us about the prospects of capital owners, but it certainly doesn’t tell us much about the average worker.”

David Hildebrand, a democratic socialist challenging Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for her Senate seat in 2018, observed that the numbers found in the CareerBuilder survey are “nothing new,” and that they show “it’s time to redistribute wealth.”

As Common Dreams reported last month, wages for most workers have remained flat for decades. Meanwhile, CEO compensation continues to soar: a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that the pay of top CEOs rose by an “outrageous” 937 percent between 1978 and 2016.

Judging by his tax proposals—and by his claim during his presidential campaign that wages are “too high“—Trump appears unlikely to reverse these decades-long trends.

Responding to the CareerBuilder report on Twitter, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, argued the results show the urgent need for “strong unions” and “an economy that works for us,” not merely the wealthiest.