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60-Second Earth

Fighting Climate Change Also Battles Disease

Cutting down on greenhouse gas pollution could deliver health benefits. David Biello reports

Chances are you won’t die from carbon dioxide. But cutting down on the greenhouse gas pollution responsible for climate change could extend your life and make it better. That's because less reliance on things that produce a lot of CO2, like coal-fired power plants, also means lower levels of other kinds of pollution that shorten lives.

That's according to new research in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Researchers looked at how CO2 reductions also meant less spewing into the air of fine soot and ozone, otherwise known as smog at ground level. Both soot and ozone have been linked to various respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, such as asthma and heart disease. In other words, soot and smog ain't good for you.

Cutting back on the sources of all these types of pollution would mean avoiding more than a million premature deaths by 2050. And that's a conservative estimate because it doesn't include children or anyone under 30, or other factors like the spread of tropical diseases into new regions as the globe warms.

In other words, combating climate change ain’t just good for the planet, it's good for your health.

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

[Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.]

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