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New research shows disturbing link between millions of deaths each year: ‘Higher than most previous estimates’

The research team said that taking action is imperative to saving lives.

The research team said that taking action is imperative to saving lives.

Photo Credit: iStock

New research has revealed that the pollution caused by the burning of dirty fuels like oil kills five million people across the globe each year.

What happened?

In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the UK, U.S., Germany, Spain, and Cyprus used a new model to estimate deaths caused by pollution from dirty fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas

They found that the burning of these energy sources accounts for 61% of all deaths caused by outdoor air pollution annually. This adds up to about five million deaths a year, which is much higher than previous estimates. 

Why is this research concerning?

In addition to the unnecessary deaths caused by these pollutants, they can also cause a range of health issues like heart attacks, respiratory disorders, stroke, and asthma. Burning of dirty fuels has also been linked to autism spectrum disorder and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Plus, the burning of dirty energy like oil and natural gas fuels a warming planet. This, in turn, causes a plethora of other health dangers for humanity, including a higher risk of infectious diseases, shortages of drinking water due to toxic algal blooms and increased occurrences of drought, and more frequent severe weather.

What’s being done about pollution from dirty energy?

The research team said that shifting toward cleaner, renewable energy is imperative to save lives. 

“Major reductions in air pollution emissions, notably through a phase-out of fossil fuels, could have large, positive health outcomes. Results show that the mortality burden attributable to air pollution from fossil fuel use is higher than most previous estimates,” researchers said, per The Guardian.

One way to do this is to shift away from gas-guzzling cars, whose tailpipes spew toxic chemicals into the air.

The good news is that this shift is already underway. For instance, Stockholm, Sweden, recently announced a ban on gas-powered vehicles in its city center beginning in 2025. And five U.S. states adopted measures aimed at transitioning school bus fleets to all-electric

The UN Climate Change Conference also took place from Nov. 30-Dec. 12, 2023. During the event, world leaders convened to discuss how to tackle the challenge of a warming world, and one of the subjects discussed was fast-tracking the global energy transition.

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