According to newly released research, Donald Trump is going to have the early deaths of tens-of-thousands of American citizens on his hands every year. It isn’t hyperbole or exaggeration, and the real atrocity is that those fatalities are preventable and were on the decline until Trump appointed a fossil fuel acolyte to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) right into the ground.
The new report published in The Lancet revealed that across the world pollution is responsible for one out of every six deaths; a tad over 9 million human beings in 2015. The research was produced by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health and reported that the largest contributor to “early death” was air pollution claiming about 6.5 million lives. Water pollution posed the “next greatest threat” and accounted for 1.8 million “early deaths” followed by workplace-related pollution that caused just under a million “early deaths.”
One of the study’s commissioners said that until the 2015 research, scientists were aware that part and parcel of the pollution issue were thousands of chemicals that people are exposed to in the air and water. “We just didn’t know enough about what chemicals are doing to people.” Now they do know and they know those chemicals were responsible for killing 9 million people globally in 2015.
America isn’t as bad off as some aspiring industrial nations, but that is changing because Trump is Hell-bent and duty-bound to the fossil fuel industry to decimate environmental regulations that are reducing the cause of “early American deaths” significantly. Americans may be more fortunate than some people, but still, a little over 5 percent of all deaths in America are the result of pollution; in 2015 that number was over 130,000 American citizens and was on the decline with an administration that cared about the lives of the American people. The environmental regulations under President Barack Obama were specifically executed to protect the health and welfare of the American people in conjunction with combating climate change.
As is always the case, in every country of every income level diseases caused by pollution were “most prevalent among minorities and the marginalized.” The director of the health, nutrition, and population global practice and the World Bank Group and one of the study’s commissioners, Dr. Olusoji Adevi said what some Americans already know and experience for themselves.
“Pollution disproportionately impacts the poor and the vulnerable. Children face the highest risks. It is important to translate awareness into action at the local, national, and global levels.”
Prior to Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration, America was taking action at the national level and was leading the global effort to control the release of chemicals killing off human beings by the millions every year. Trump changed all that by exiting the Paris Climate Accord, ending the Clean Power Plan, and turning the EPA over to a fossil fuel employee intent on neutering the agency responsible for saving American lives from pollution.
It is noteworthy that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan was part of the Clean Air Act first introduced in 1963 and amended several times to better protect American citizens’ health and welfare. Two weeks ago Trump’s administration rolled back the Clean Power Plan’s emission regulations as part of their opening attack on the Clean Air Act.
Of course Trump and Republicans proffer a typical fossil fuel industry lie that environmental regulations are the death knell of economies, but research shows that is categorically false; Republicans know it has been false for decades.
The co-leader of the Lancet Commission, Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, pointed out that this particular study developed a completely separate analysis from an economic perspective to calculate the costs related to pollution. The researchers discovered something Republicans will deny despite reporting from economists assessing the economic impact of reducing pollution. Dr. Landrigan said:
“Just look at the experience within our country showing a 70 percent decrease in pollution from 1970 to 2015 following passage of the Clean Air Act. In that same 45-year period, the GDP has increased by 250 percent.” Landrigan reiterated that the data contradicts conservative and fossil fuel advocates’ claims that environmental regulation stifles the economy.
Dr. Landrigan’s assertion was reinforced by the senior economist and director of the Center for Research and Policy in International Development at the RAND Corporation, Nicholas Burger. Mr. Burger was not involved in the study, but he agreed with the researchers’ results as well as their in-depth economic analysis; he said the numbers are right. He also contradicted Republican and fossil fuel industry supporters saying:
“There’s pretty strong evidence that pollution control policy — pollution regulation — does not adversely affect growth as people often argue that it does or that we might tend to think that it does.” He added that other researchers believe pollution policy has not adversely harmed economic growth and in fact “enhanced growth.”
During the Clinton Administration environmental protections and regulations were strengthened and the economy grew significantly. Likewise, during the Obama Administration the economy grew phenomenally after a near economic collapse and Great Recession and several much-needed environmental regulations were enacted. Those regulations not only addressed climate change, they greatly reduced chemical-laden pollution from fossil fuel emissions and saved Americans’ lives.
Although this most recent report actually breaks down exactly what kind of pollution is leading to early deaths, and how many human beings are dying unnecessarily, the information has been well-known and publicized for a couple of decades, at least. That should inspire every administration, Republican or Democrat, to continue reducing pollution if for no other reason than to save American lives; it is precisely what was occurring during the Obama Administration. Trump has made it is personal raison d’être to undo every one of President Obama’s environmental protections out of spite, but more so out of his flagrant disregard for the lives of the American people; especially the young, marginalized and poor.
It is unclear how many additional tens-of-thousands of Americans will die an “early death” due to Trump’s anti-environment crusade, but it will be a significant number. For Trump and his fossil fuel cohorts, more Americans dying an early death, even if it is tens-of-thousands, is the price American people have to pay so the fossil fuel industry reaps greater profits.