Air pollution due to fine particles from the combustion of fossil fuels is a scourge present all over the world. More deadly in some regions than in others, it is the cause of millions of deaths each year. Deaths that can be avoided on the condition that urgent action is taken to develop alternative energy sources.
This is essentially what a recent study published in the journal Environmental Research reveals. The authors of this study were interested in the damage caused to health by these fine particles in suspension. One of the researchers and co-author of the study reports that “the combustion of fossil fuels - particularly coal, gasoline and diesel - is a significant source of fine airborne particles (PM2.5 ) and a key contributor to the global burden of death and disease ” . It therefore emerges a strong correlation between air pollution and mortality.
Large agglomerations are obviously on the front line. China and India are particularly affected. We all have in mind these images of Chinese cities enveloped in a cloud of pollution like a thick fog. But the other continents are not spared. All over the world, we are witnessing an upsurge in diseases, infections, allergies and deaths due to fossil pollution. The most fragile individuals develop fatal respiratory illnesses. Thanks to extensive study resources, such as a 3D atmospheric modeling tool, for example, they were able to determine in which regions of the world there were the greatest concentrations of pollution by fine particles (PM2.5).
Public authorities know the consequences of air pollution. Many scientists have sounded the alarm a long time ago. Some measures are taken in some countries which may show some effectiveness but it is far from sufficient. It is not so much the care taken in treating that matters as it is to modify the causes in depth. And that means stopping the exploitation of fossil fuels.
Through a recent article in our journal, we explain the need to get rid of dependence on oil. We explain that we will surely have to go through an intermediate step that is a little less harmful, such as natural gas, before arriving at clean energies. It will surely be essential to do it gently so as not to generate geostrategic and geopolitical imbalances which, in the end, could prove to be extremely dangerous for the world. But the most important thing is to start the process.
All these unnecessary deaths due to pollution are not inevitable. We regard them with a distance as if they were the sad and distant result of unbridled industrialization. Collateral damage in our constant quest for growth and consumption, they are the poor victims.
Yet it is not. And that is why researchers are always pushing their investigations further. Helped in this by advanced technologies and new processes, they very often stress that what we fear is far below the reality. Like the last study to date, the conclusions jostle our leaders and prove the urgency to act. "We hope that by quantifying the health consequences of burning fossil fuels we can send a clear message to politicians and the general public on the benefits of a transition to alternative sources of energy" , points out Joel Schwartz, professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard and co-author of the study.
Let us keep our fingers crossed that our dear leaders will listen to them.