8.7 million deaths annually due to pollution: do we care?

Another powerful piece by Rebecca Solnit, the American feminist/environmentalist and writer. She points out that while we’re shocked and dismayed at the 2.8 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide over the last year, we show none of the same concern for the 8.7 million people who died of air pollution in the past twelve months. Obviously their deaths were far less sudden and dramatic, but that’s no reason for us to be less concerned, as they died needlessly. Solnit challenges us to break free of our complacency:

“What if we treated those 8.7 million annual deaths from air pollution as an emergency and a crisis – and recognized that respiratory impact from particulates is only a small part of the devastating impact of burning fossil fuels? For the pandemic we succeeded in immobilizing large populations, radically reducing air traffic, and changing the way many of us live, as well as releasing vast sums of money as aid to people financially devastated by the crisis. We could do that for climate change, and we must – but the first obstacle is the lack of a sense of urgency, the second making people understand that things could be different.”


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