The fact that Earth’s climate is rapidly changing as a result of human activity on our planet is an enormous problem. Forget about the pretend “debate” going on, where one side explains that we need to cut back on our dirty energy needs and production in order to try to slow down the general warming of our planet, while the other side pretends that God will let them keep their money in heaven. The fact remains that fossil fuels and unregulated and unsafe industrial production causes systematic pollution—pollution of our air and our water and the soil from which we get all of our food.
NPR is reporting on a new study showing that pollution was the cause of 9 million premature deaths in 2015, and the number of humans affected by pollution across the globe beats out those smoking tobacco and completely dwarfs people affected by AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and war.
The causes of death vary — cancer, lung disease, heart disease. The report links them to pollution, drawing upon previous studies that show how pollution is tied to a wider range of diseases than previously thought.
Those studies observed populations exposed to pollutants and compared them to people not exposed. The studies have shown that pollution can be an important cause of diseases — many of them potentially fatal — including asthma, cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, birth defects in children, heart disease, stroke and lung disease.
More than 90 percent of the deaths associated with pollution occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to researchers. NPR interviewed Dr. Philip Landrigan, the lead author of the study, pediatrician, and professor of environmental medicine and global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Asked about the economic disparity, Dr. Landrigan pointed to how many middle-income and low-income countries are industrializing at a breakneck pace in recent decades with little to no environmental regulation in place. He also explains how “environmental injustice” plays an enormous part in this development.