Importance of GHG Mitigation: Health Benefits
Fresh air is essential for good health, and every time the implementation of policies to reduce GHG emissions is delayed, illnesses and deaths resulting from air pollution tend to increase. It’s estimated that about 3 billion of the world’s population reside in urban areas where air pollution is rampant. If policies to mitigate GHG can effectively be put into practice, substantial health benefits to this section of the population can be realised. The benefits could also add impetus to GHG mitigation.
A Peek at Air Pollution and Human Health
According to WHO (World Health Organization), deaths resulting from air pollution are among the top 10 disability causes. In 1997, it was collectively estimated by WHO and WRI (World Resources Institute) that about 700, 000 death cases that can easily be avoided by controlling air pollution occur every year worldwide. The two organisations projected that the number could increase to 8 million by 2020 if no effective policies to arrest the situation are implemented.
Does improved air quality really come with health benefits? The answer is yes. A classic example can be traced back to the 1996 Olympic Games, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia. During the games, a policy to use alternative transport instead of vehicles was implemented. Later, the average morbidity rates of 1995, 1996, and 1997 were compared to determine the relationship between asthma and reduced air pollution. It was established that cases of asthma attacks in Georgia dropped by 40% in 1996.
Why We Fail
Whenever the nations of the world have come together to discuss global climate change, such discussions have traditionally revolved around long-term considerations. This is where we get it wrong. It is important to know that the same measures taken to mitigate the long-term effects of climate change can be applied for immediate yet powerful benefits to human health through reduction of air pollution.