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Why this Matters: This study — published in Environmental Research, as a collaboration between researchers from Harvard University, the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester, and University College London— suggests that fossil fuel pollution accounted for 18% of total deaths in 2018. Most of the deaths — 62% — are in China (3.9 million) and India (2.5 million).Eloise Marais, a co-author of the study working for the University of Leicester, said in a statement: “We can’t in good conscience continue to rely on fossil fuels when we know that there are such severe effects on health and viable, cleaner alternatives.”
How the Study Worked:
Researchers took a global 3D model of atmospheric chemistry to see local concentrations of PM2.5. This 3D model allowed the scientists to split the globe into a grid with rectangles as small as 31 miles by 37 miles, which helped them see pollution levels in much more granular detail. Moreover, they could distinguish between different sources of pollution, and focus the impact of pollution on places where people live.
As the Biden administration is readying a reversal of the Trump policies loosening rules on auto emissions, many states have started tightening their laws to align with the California clean car standards. Case in point: the Virginia legislature last week passed a law that toughened its emissions standards.
Gas flaring was responsible for Texas’s recent increase in oil refinery pollution, but it’s hardly a new problem. We’re less than a decade away from the UN’s goal of Zero Routine Flaring by 2030, but refineries still flare 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year, releasing 400 million tons of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants into the atmosphere.
Why This Matters: Companies have historically practiced gas flaring as a convenient and inexpensive way to “dispose of ” gas that was extracted alongside oil, as opposed to storing paying to store it.
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