Could our fight to reduce climate change help Americans live healthier and longer lives?
According to a report just released by the Harvard School of Public Health, Syracuse University and Boston University, the answer is YES.
The report titled “Health Co-benefits of Carbon Standards for Existing Power Plants ” modeled the health and environmental effects of three carbon reduction scenarios. The scenario using the model and reductions of the EPA proposed Clean Power Plan predicted that these emission reductions could prevent 3,500 premature deaths, 1,000 hospital admissions for heart and lung disease and 220 heart attacks each year in the United States by 2020. The report found that these reductions would “.. also lead to additional health benefits including reduced asthma symptoms and other health benefits for children, the elderly and vulnerable adults.”
Yikes! If reducing emissions from power plants can save 3,5000 lives and a thousand hospitalizations, how much death and suffering do these plants cause?
This report confirms that reducing power plant emissions isn’t just about climate change or polar bears. It is a fight to protect our health and economy right here, right now.
The toxic effects that pollution has upon our children, our elderly and our most vulnerable citizens cannot be denied. We don’t have go to the Arctic to find a species threatened by pollution. Look in our emergency rooms for kids being treated for asthma attacks or our elderly with strokes or heart attacks. Look to our classrooms where asthma is a leading cause of student absenteeism. This isn’t Republican vs Democrat or conservative vs liberal. It is about protecting our families and our communities from those who would poison our air. It’s time that we rewired our energy system so it doesn’t kill us, or the planet.
Maryland would be one of the states that would benefit most from reductions in power plant emissions. The report ranks Maryland as 5th in the percentage of avoided premature deaths, third in the decrease in air pollution harmful to our health, and fourth in the amount of decrease in air pollution detrimental to ecosystems. Here are the states which would benefit the most from these emission reductions:
The states with the greatest estimated percent of avoided premature deaths are (in order): PA, OH, WV, MO, MI, KY, MD, DC, IL, DE, IN, and AR.
States with the largest statewide decreases in air pollution harmful to our health are: OH, PA, MD, WV, IL, KY, MO, IN, AR, CO, AL and WV.
And the states with largest statewide average decreases in air pollution detrimental to ecosystems (sulfur and nitrogen) include: PA, WV, OH, MD, KY, DE, IN, IL, and MO.
This study was the second of a two part study on the benefits of reducing carbon from power plants. The first part of the study was released in May, 2014 and can be found here