The evidence that particle pollution shortens lives is unequivocal. Air pollution exposure is the largest environmental risk factor for early death worldwide (State of Global Air 2017).
We can now estimate that particle pollution contributed to more than four million global deaths in 2015. In the United States particle pollution is dominated by traffic on the West Coast and by industrial coal and oil burning on the east.
The colder parts of the United States have to deal with additional problems from winter wood burning, particularly around Seattle and Montana. Globally, breathing particle pollution was the sixth greatest risk factor for early death — just behind high blood pressure, smoking, high blood sugar, being overweight and high cholesterol. (National Academy of Science 2017)
As in much of the world, particle pollution and surface ozone are due to poor controls on industry, from fuel and traffic exhaust. An investigation by Hagan-Smit informs us that surface ozone comes mainly from traffic exhaust and National Academy of Science indicates methane leakage from fracking.
In the United States and Europe sulfur is removed from diesel and gasoline to reduce particle pollution — but is not removed from aviation kerosene.
Justification for fracking is the use of natural gas as a bridge between coal and a low-carbon future, since it emits less CO2 than coal. This justification is supported if the leakage of methane is tightly controlled.
Seems like making emissions more expensive is necessary to encourage industry to tighten their controls on leakage and encourage use of low-sulfur aviation fuel.
Tell Rep. Bergman and our senators to support Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (HR 763), which makes emissions more expensive.
About the author: Ronald Marshall has a doctorate in clinical psychology. He worked in a group practice for more than 10 years, primarily with alcohol and drug addictions. He then moved up north to open a private practice, which he operated for more than 20 years. He is now retired and lives in Petoskey.