As of May 7, COVID-19 has killed 3.3 million people worldwide. That’s terrible. Worse, 2.6 times as many died from air pollution in 2018. A new study from University College London estimates that air pollution from burning fossil fuels caused 8.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2018; almost one out of every five deaths that year.
The UC London analysis included power plants and other emissions sources, including vehicles, trains, diesel generators, and coal used in homes. Coal kills. Yet, our governor and Legislature would force other states to invest in costly repairs of the Colstrip power plant, and Wyoming is set to sue those states to make them buy coal they have opted not to burn.
Among the hopeful signs is that the president is pushing for more wind and solar power, providing good jobs for ex-coal miners, among his infrastructure priorities. Let’s hope that reduces the huge toll pollution is taking on us and our fellow humans.
That haze in the Big Sky is Particulate Mater. Particles in the PM2.5 size range (25,000 times smaller than your hair) are able to travel deeply into your respiratory tract, reaching your lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can affect your lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths.
We have everything to gain, including saving lives, from shifting from coal to fossil-fuel-free sources of energy.
Norman A. Bishop
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor 5/14/21