Today in news of the "we're all going to die and everything is meaningless" variety, we have this little gem: By the year 2050, more than 6 million people will die prematurely due to prolonged exposure to air pollution each year. To place this figure firmly in perspective, consider the fact that air pollution currently accounts for more than 3 million premature deaths annually. To place the figure even more firmly in perspective, this means that the air pollution death rate is expected to double in less than forty years.
"The total number of deaths due to HIV and malaria is 2.8 million per year," Jos Lelieveld, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and lead author of the study that revealed the projected death rate, tells CNN. "That's half a million less than the number of people who die from air pollution globally." According to the study, the highest number of pollution-related deaths per capita is concentrated in the Western Pacific region.
"When most people think of outdoor air pollution, they tend to think of traffic and industry having the largest impact on global premature mortality, not residential energy emissions and agriculture," adds Lelieveld. "Testing for the effects of air pollution emissions in different parts of the world was a very challenging task, especially in many developing countries, where air quality monitoring systems are minimal." In case your relationship with science has continued to fail you, please take note of the fact that climate change and air pollution are most certainly related, meaning even the smallest steps toward a cleaner future are gravely consequential.