Study: Air Pollution is the Greatest External Threat to Global Health

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    The Facts

    • According to a study published by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago on Tuesday, air pollution is the world's greatest external risk to human health.

    • The study found that while tobacco use reduces global life expectancy by 2.2 years, fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) cuts it by 2.3 years — or a combined 17.8B life years for the global population.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Multiple studies have shown that air pollution is more dangerous to global health than smoking, alcohol, or malnutrition. Yet the percentage of funding set aside to confront the existential threat is minuscule. Just six countries suffer from three-quarters of the world's air pollution's impact. Governments must unite to reduce global disparities in the fight against air pollution.

    Narrative B

    While air quality has improved over the last few decades in Europe, the growing threat of wildfires — caused by rising temperatures linked to climate change — is causing spikes in air pollution from the western US to Latin America and Southeast Asia. We must devote more resources to tackle global warming as a root cause of this threat.

    Metaculus Prediction

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