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 two part report titled “Co-benefits of Carbon Standards” 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.

Two things come to mind when reading this report. First, OMG! If reducing pollution from these plants will save 3,500 lives and 1,000 hospitalizations, what’s the total amount of death and suffering that these plants cause?

Who knew? Cleaning the air to reduce climate change could enable us to breathe easier and live longer. So I don’t have to believe in climate change to ask dirty old coal burning power plants to stop filling

So if these statisticians were giving out awards for states that would be big winners with these reductions in power plant emissions, here are the winners:

The states with the greatest estimated number of avoided premature deaths are (in order): PA, OH, TX, IL, MI, NY, NC, GA, MO, VA, TN, and IN.

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.

You don’t have to believe in climate change to reducing climate change isn’t just about sea levels and temperatures. It’s about the health of our children, our elderly and our most vulnerable citizens. We don’t have go to the Arctic to find a species threatened by pollution. Look in our emergency rooms for kids gasping for breath during asthma attacks or our parents suffering from heart attacks. The suffering we hope to prevent by 2020 is all about us now, though we barely hear the toll or see the cause.