Air pollution’s human toll: children born today will have their lives shortened by 20 months on average by the toxic air that is widespread across the globe, with the greatest toll in south Asia, according to a major study. Air pollution contributed to nearly one in every 10 deaths in 2017 – bigger than malaria and road accidents , and comparable to smoking and road accidents, according to the State of Global Air (SOGA) study. There are signs that actions taken by governments are working, including reducing forms of some particulate pollution in the developed world, while China’s levels of air pollution are also starting to fall. The report found ground-level ozone remains a major problem in rich countries, where it is produced by nitrogen oxides and similar pollutants emitted from traffic and industry. (The Guardian 3 Apr 2019)
One thing is clear: huge numbers of Americans, in particular, usually get into their cars and drive if they want to buy food, go to church, a meeting, workplace, or anywhere else. Public transport, even in the capital, caters to a very small subset of people. The oil and the car industries wanted it this way from way back, opposing decent railways and good bus services. The result is that air quality in the cities is polluted. In my opinion gas prices are too low and there is no incentive for people to leave their cars at home (cue for cries of disagreement!). Where I live, in a big city, the gas price hovers around $3.50, more or less, and is lower than that in country districts. Notwithstanding the yells of anguish there ought to be a higher tax on fuel to help the fight against the effects of climate change, and to reduce emissions in general, but particularly in the cities.
Walking is an option, and good for you, that is, if you can avoid the heavily trafficked, fume-ridden streets.