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Reducing US Carbon Emissions May Prevent 295,000 Deaths By 2030

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Millions of people face the detrimental effects of climate change and air pollution on their health as it is now dubbed the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Research Scientists predict that if the United States would cut carbon emissions, it may save about 295,000 lives by 2030.

Researchers from Duke University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies said if the carbon emissions will be reduced enough to avoid a 2-degree Celsius increase in global warming, it could prevent premature deaths in the coming years.

"Many people view climate change as a future problem, but our analysis shows that reducing emissions that cause warming — many of which also contribute to air pollution — could benefit public health here and now," said Drew T. Shindell, from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

Reducing carbon emissions could also save about $250 billion worth of health benefits because of overall improved public health of residents. This means that the large amount of savings would exceed the cost of implementing better transportation and clean energy programs.

"Near-term national benefits are valued at ~$250 billion (140 billion to 1,050 billion) per year, which is likely to exceed implementation costs. Including longer-term, worldwide climate impacts, benefits roughly quintuple, becoming ~5-10 times larger than estimated implementation costs," the researchers concluded and published in the journal Nature.

"Achieving the benefits, however, would require both larger and broader emissions reductions than those in current legislation or regulations," they added.

Air Pollution And Premature Deaths

By 2030, an estimated 175,000 premature deaths could be prevented while clean transportation can also prevent about 120,000 premature deaths, annually thereafter.

Carbon and fuel emissions contribute not only to the growing problem of climate change, but also the increasing amount of particulate pollution matter in the air. Small pieces of these pollutants may pose serious health problems such as respiratory problems, cardiovascular disorders and premature death.

Previous studies have linked air pollution to many diseases. The inhalation of polluted air could aggravate the condition of people already suffering from respiratory diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive respiratory disorder (COPD).

Currently, it is estimated that air pollution kills 3 million people each year and by 2050, the figure could increase two fold.

Photo: Ian Barbour | Flickr

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