Kate Aronoff: Be angry about the wildfire pollution – but be angry at the right people
A poisonous haze made the air over New York temporarily more hazardous than any other place on Earth. Thank fossil fuel billionaires, writes Kate Aronoff in The Guardian.
In a nutshell:
Unprecedented wildfires in Canada, fueled by rising temperatures and dry conditions, have caused a poisonous haze that blanketed the northeastern U.S. and Canada, making the air quality in New York City worse than anywhere else in the world last week. There's a clear connection to the fossil fuel industry: A recent analysis found that 88 of the world's top greenhouse gas-emitting companies, including Saudi Aramco, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Gazprom and BP, are responsible for half of the additional dryness and 37% of the area burned by wildfires in the western US and southwestern Canada.
"It makes sense that anyone facing conditions as awful as those caused by the smoke this week would get angry. The trick is to get angry at the right people: fossil fuel billionaires who couldn’t care less about the horrors they’ve unleashed", Aronoff argues.
The long-term global health impacts of toxic smoke pollution and ongoing fossil fuel use are significant. Aronoff notes that air pollution is responsible for 10 million deaths per year, and particulate matter from the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide. The smoke pollution caused by wildfires and exacerbated by rising temperatures and dry conditions poses a serious threat to public health, contributing to respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems and other health complications.
Read the entire opinion piece at The Guardian.
For additional information about pollution from wildfire smoke, check out EHN's recent coverage, including effects of wildfire smoke on pregnant people. See also our free guide: How do wildfires impact your health?