Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Top 10 Weather Events of 2016 (#2 Will Surprise You)

Popular
The Great Smog of Delhi.

2. Air Pollution in 2016 Likely Killed more than 5 Million and Cost more than $5 Trillion Globally

The deadliest and costliest weather events of 2016 were very likely high pressure systems with light winds and stagnant air that led to lethal build-ups of dangerous air pollutants in Asia. One such event, a severe air pollution episode being called the Great Smog of Delhi, hit the most polluted major city in the world—New Delhi, India—on Nov. 1 - 9, 2016. On Nov. 7, Delhi's levels of the deadliest air pollutant—fine particulate matter (PM 2.5)—hit 999 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 40 times higher than the World Health Organization guideline of 25 micrograms per cubic meter for a 24-hour period. Sustained breathing of air pollution at these levels is like smoking more than two packs of cigarettes per day.

The worst air pollution episode of 2016 in China occurred the week of Dec. 19 when levels of fine particle pollution in Shijiazhuang, capital of northern Hebei province, hit 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter—40 times the WHO standard. According to mashable.com, more than 200 flights were cancelled in Beijing due to smog that week, schools and factories were ordered shut, and 23 cities declared smog red alerts.

Too often, we hear about the costs of air pollution regulations, but nothing on the savings in lives and money that result from breathing clean air. Part of the problem is that quantifying the deaths and damage due to air pollution episodes is difficult. However, there are more than 2,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies linking air pollution to "premature deaths"—mortality caused by air pollution that is only partly attributable to breathing bad air, but that would not have occurred otherwise.

The World Bank estimated in 2016 that premature deaths due to air pollution in 2013 (the most recent year statistics were available) were 5.5 million people, at a cost of more than $5 trillion. The total costs to countries in East and South Asia related to air pollution mortality were about 7.5 percent of GDP, they estimated. Additional health care costs to people who did not die were not considered and neither was pollution damage done to agriculture. Computer modeling by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson in 2016 predicted that the total cost of air pollution globally under a business-as-usual emissions path will reach $23 trillion per year (7.6 percent of global GDP) by 2050.

Figure 2. An irate Linqi resident

Figure 2: Students took exams in an outdoor playground on Dec. 19, 2016 in heavy smog at Linzhou, Anyang, in Central China's Henan Province. The fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) levels were in excess of 500 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 20 times higher than the World Health Organization guideline of 25 micrograms per cubic meter for a 24-hour period. The principal of the school was suspended after a public outcry.

Prev Page
Next Page

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Yersinia pestis bacteria causes bubonic plague in animals and humans. Illustration based on light microscope image At 1000x. BSIP / UIG Via Getty Images

A herdsman in the Chinese autonomous region of Inner Mongolia was diagnosed with the bubonic plague Sunday, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Plant pathologist Carolee Bull works in her home garden in State College, Pennsylvania. Carolee Bull, CC BY-ND

By Matt Kasson, Brian Lovett and Carolee Bull

Home gardening is having a boom year across the U.S. Whether they're growing their own food in response to pandemic shortages or just looking for a diversion, numerous aspiring gardeners have constructed their first raised beds, and seeds are flying off suppliers' shelves. Now that gardens are largely planted, much of the work for the next several months revolves around keeping them healthy.

Read More Show Less
Hotter temperatures have been linked to a rise in energy poverty, with more people struggling to meet their energy bills from their household income. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Emma Charlton

The effects of climate change may more far-reaching than you think.

Hotter temperatures have been linked to a rise in energy poverty, with more people struggling to meet their energy bills from their household income, according to a new study published on ScienceDirect by researchers from Italy's Ca' Foscari University.

Read More Show Less
Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the "brain-eating amoeba") is a free-living microscopic amoeba (single-celled living organism). Centers for Disease Control

As if the surging cases of coronavirus weren't enough for Floridians to handle, now the state's Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that a person in the Tampa area tested positive for a rare brain-eating amoeba, according to CBS News. The Florida DOH posted a warning to residents to remind them of the dangers of the rare single-celled amoeba that attacks brain tissue.

Read More Show Less

Scientists are urging the WHO to revisit their coronavirus guidance to focus more on airborne transmission and less on hand sanitizer and hygiene. John Lund / Photodisc / Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) is holding the line on its stance that the respiratory droplets of the coronavirus fall quickly to the floor and are not infectious. Now, a group of 239 scientists is challenging that assertion, arguing that the virus is lingering in the air of indoor environments, infecting people nearby, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, oysters live in coastal estuaries where saltwater and freshwater meet and mix. Flickr / CC by 2.0

Along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, oysters live in coastal estuaries where saltwater and freshwater meet and mix.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Japan Self-Defense Forces and police officers join rescue operations at a nursing home following heavy rain in Kuma village, Kumamoto prefecture on July 5, 2020. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP / Getty Images

Scores of people remained stranded in southern Japan on Sunday after heavy rain the day before caused deep flooding and mudslides that left at least 34 people confirmed or presumed dead.

Read More Show Less