Giving Compass' Take:
- Studies show that air pollution cuts global life expectancy by two years and continues to threaten people worldwide.
- How can these studies help inform the seriousness of this issue and how can donors spread awareness to the public?
- Read more about what you need to do to tackle air pollution.
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The COVID-19 pandemic underscores more than any time in recent history how important it is to protect public health. Yet, as countries race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, another everyday killer continues to threaten billions of people worldwide: air pollution.
New data from the Air Quality Life Index, which converts particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy, reveals that particulate pollution was the greatest risk to human health before COVID-19. And without strong and sustained public policy, it will be after COVID-19.
Air pollution cutting life expectancy has consistently been the case over the last two decades, with the average global decline in life expectancy from pollution remaining at two years as improvements in some countries like China were balanced out by worsening conditions in other countries.
“Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is receiving—perhaps more in some places—embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigor would allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives,” says Michael Greenstone, a professor in economics at the University of Chicago and the director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
“The reality is, no shot in the arm will alleviate air pollution. The solution lies in robust public policy. The AQLI tells citizens and policymakers how particulate pollution is affecting them and their communities and can be used to measure the benefits of policies to reduce pollution.”
“The good news is that there is now a track record of countries deciding to take action and succeeding in cleaning the air,” says Greenstone.
An especially poignant example comes from China, where the country began a “war against pollution” in 2013. Since then, three-quarters of the world’s reductions in pollution have come from China. The country has reduced particulate pollution by nearly 40%.
Read the full article about air pollution at Futurity.