India’s Air Pollution Rivals China’s as World’s Deadliest

GR: The smoke from burning coal, oil, diesel, and gasoline causes many health problems and deaths worldwide. According to the New York Times, the problem is so bad in India, that the country is going to make electric vehicles mandatory by 2030. The country is also switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The article doesn’t mention the great loss of wildlife that is also occurring because of human burning of fossil fuels. The danger to humans and every other species from declining biodiversity and ecosystem disruption is immense. Follow this link to get an idea of  the broader context for the problem with air pollution and health.

Smog blanketed New Delhi in 2016. About 1.1 million people die prematurely in India every year from the effects of air pollution. Credit Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“NEW DELHI — India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world, a new study of global air pollution shows.

“The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles, known as PM2.5, has stabilized globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India, according to the report, issued jointly on Tuesday by the Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health impacts of air pollution, and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a population health research center in Seattle.

“India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50 percent in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, the report says.

“You can almost think of this as the perfect storm for India,” said Michael Brauer, a professor of environment and health relationships at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study, in a telephone interview. He cited the confluence of rapid industrialization, population growth and an aging populace in India that is more susceptible to air pollution.

An Indian farmer walked through his field after burning his crops. A court has ruled that farmers can no longer burn their crops near New Delhi, but many still do. Credit Saurabh Das/Associated Press

“Pollution levels are worsening in India as it tries to industrialize, but “the idea that policy making should be led by government is lacking,” Bhargav Krishna, manager for environmental health at the Public Health Foundation of India, a health policy research center in New Delhi, said in an interview.

“As air pollution worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, it improved in the United States and Europe, the report said, crediting policies to curb emissions, among other things. The report’s website that provides country-by-country data on pollution levels and the health and mortality effects.

“Environmental regulations in the United States and actions by the European Commission have led to substantial progress in reducing fine particulate pollution since 1990, the report said. The United States has experienced a reduction of about 27 percent in the average annual exposure to fine particulate matter, with smaller declines in Europe. Yet, some 88,000 Americans and 258,000 Europeans still face increased risks of premature death because of particulate levels today, the report said.

“A fraction of the width of a human hair, these particles can be released from vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines, and by industry, as well as from natural sources like dust. They enter the bloodstream through the lungs, worsening cardiac disease and increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure, in addition to causing severe respiratory problems, like asthma and pneumonia.” –Geeta Anand, New York Times (Continue reading.)

Villagers near a newly built state-owned coal fired power plant in southern China. Credit Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The Eiffel Tower seen through a haze of air pollution in Paris last month. The United States and Europe have made good progress in cutting fine particulate air pollution since 1990. Credit Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Pennsylvania vs. climate change

Slowly but surely, Lyme disease has reached near epidemic proportions in Pennsylvania. Twenty years ago, most of us never heard of Lyme disease. Now, most of us know someone who has had it and many of us have had it as well. Ticks not only are more abundant in Pennsylvania, but they also have migrated into Canada. It’s no coincidence that warmer winters have facilitated the spread of ticks to the North. Another noxious insect pest, the wooly adelgid, is decimating our state tree, the hemlock.

This species originated in southern Virginia but has steadily moved north as winters have warmed. As of 2007, the adelgid has impacted over 50 percent of the geographic range of the hemlock.

Hemlocks are what scientists call a “keystone species.” That is, one which many other species depend on for food, cover and nesting habitat. Brook trout, our state fish, is so closely allied with hemlocks that at one time they were called hemlock trout. Scientists predict that global warming will enable the adelgid to eventually eliminate our state tree from the eastern United States, thereby speeding the demise of our state fish.

Source: www.post-gazette.com

Why Biodiversity is Good for your Health

‘Ecosystem services’ is a phrase readily used when discussing conservation measures. It refers to the benefits that we receive from the natural world such as carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling,…

Source: mresbec.wordpress.com

GR:  This article argues that declining wildlife diversity favors disease prone species and more frequent contact of these species with humans.  There is some supporting evidence, but we need much more work on the issue.

Why Killing Wildlife Is Very Bad For Our Health

“A just-published study in the online journal PLOS Biology says that shrinking biodiversity means a rise in tropical diseases including malaria and dengue fever.

“One-third of the world’s species are now threatened with extinction. It is a massive loss of biodiversity that has serious implications for our health and for the earth’s health: A just-published study in the online journal PLOS Biology says that shrinking biodiversity could mean a rise in tropical diseases including malaria and dengue fever. The study makes a case for why, in fighting human disease, ecological preservation is just as important as medicine and vaccines.

“As more and more species of animals and plants face extinction, humans are at greater risk of being affected by parasitic and vector-borne diseases. The latter term refers to bacterial and viral diseases transmitted by mosquitos, ticks and fleas. The reason for the rising risk is that, with a decreasing variety of animal carriers for a disease, an illness’ “life cycle” is less likely to be disrupted, as Matthew Bonds, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and the study‘s lead author, explains to NPR.”

Source: www.care2.com

GR:  I suppose that the surviving wildlife species will also have to tolerate more and more diseases.  That is one creepy sign.  So don’t go down to the woods today, because you won’t be alone.