A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill estimates that future climate change, if left unaddressed, is expected to cause roughly 60,000 deaths globally in the year 2030 and 260,000 deaths in 2100 due to climate change’s effect on global air pollution.
The study, to appear in the July 31 advance online issue of Nature Climate Change, adds to growing evidence that the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. It is also the most comprehensive study yet on how climate change will affect health via air pollution, since it makes use of results from several of the world’s top climate change modeling groups.
“As climate change affects air pollutant concentrations, it can have a significant impact on health worldwide, adding to the millions of people who die from air pollution each year, ” said Jason West, who led the research at UNC-Chapel Hill with former graduate student and first author Raquel Silva.
Hotter temperatures speed up the chemical reactions that create air pollutants like ozone and fine particulate matter, which impact public health. Locations that get drier may also have worse air pollution because of less removal by rain, and increased fires and windblown dust. As trees respond to higher temperatures, they will also emit more organic pollutants.
“Our finding that most models show a likely increase in deaths is the clearest signal yet that climate change will be detrimental to air quality and health,” said West, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “We also collaborated with some of the world’s top climate modeling groups in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan and New Zealand, making this study the most comprehensive yet on the issue.”
Continue reading at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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