New York Magazine writer David Wallace-Wells is out with another alarmist warning about what a warmer future might hold for humanity — death from air pollution on the scale of 25 Holocausts.
Wallace-Wells’ article has made the rounds on the web for its pessimism about the Paris climate accord. The author said “Paris is very quickly starting to look like Kyoto,” a previous climate treaty he called “completely ineffective.”
Indeed, Wallace-Wells says the Paris accord looks “more and more like fantasy.” The International Energy Agency (IEA) just reported carbon dioxide emissions increased more than one percent in 2017, despite the Paris accord being in effect for more than on year.
But Wallace-Wells also warned that global warming of 2 degrees Celsius will exacerbate air pollution problems, killing 150 million more people than if warming were limited to 1.5 degrees.
“Numbers that large can be hard to grasp, but 150 million is the equivalent of 25 Holocausts,” Wallace-Wells wrote, referring to the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews and other groups.
“It is five times the size of the death toll of the Great Leap Forward — the largest non-military death toll humanity has ever produced,” Wallace-Wells added. “It is three times the greatest death toll of any kind: World War II.”
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Wallace-Wells derived his figures from a paper recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change to “quantify the suffering that would be avoided if the planet were kept below 1.5 degrees of warming, rather than two degrees,” he wrote.
While admitting the paper’s figures were “speculative,” Wallace-Wells argued “it is a virtual certainty that we will inflict, thanks to climate change, the equivalent of 25 Holocausts on the world” — due to the effects of global warming outside of just worse pollution.
“So 25 Holocausts is our absolute best-case outcome; the likely suffering will be considerably higher still,” Wallace-Wells wrote.
Lots of studies have claimed catastrophic results from future global warming, often by using a “worst case” scenario of warming that’s being increasingly panned by experts as increasingly unlikely.
The research Wallace-Wells cites, however, focuses on the costs of worse air pollution, but the epidemiological data underlying links between premature death and fine particulate matter and ozone is mixed.
Toxicologists have found that while surveys suggest a correlation between fine particulates and ozone in some parts of the country, there’s no correlation in many others. It only adds to the uncertainty surrounding air pollution and public health.
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