Air pollution causes nearly one in five deaths in China and over 4,000 per day

Air pollution causes nearly one in five deaths in China and over 4,000 per day

China has long known it has a problem with air pollution, but a recent study has attributed a startling new death toll to the issue. Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that studies climate change and related issues, says 1.6 million deaths in China are caused by air pollution every year. That’s well over 4,000 per day, or 17% of all deaths.

In its paper, to be published by the peer-reviewed journal Plos One this month, the organization also examines the sources of air pollution in China. While the bad air in Beijing may get the most press coverage globally, the capital doesn’t have the worst air in China, and it isn’t the biggest source of air pollutants (although the 10 worst cities in China are all found relatively close to Beijing).

 

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The biggest single source of this air pollution is coal, which is still used as a major source of fuel, particularly in the northeast of the country, where air pollution is generally worst. But the government is trying to wean itself off this fuel source, and has taken some impressive steps toward doing so.

Last year China’s GDP grew by 7.4%, but the amount of coal it burned for electricity actually fell by 1.6%. In the first four months of this year, China’s coal use was 8% lower than the same period a year earlier. Some of that drop can be attributed to an economic slowdown in China, but economic activity is still rising overall. That suggests a fall in coal use represents a real reduction in the country’s dependency on the fuel.

 

Source: Quartz

Date: August 2015

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Watch also the video: Smog Journeys: a short film by Jia Zhangke

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