Cutting global warming pollution would not only make the planet healthier, it would make people healthier too, new research suggests.
Slashing carbon dioxide emissions could save millions of lives, mostly by reducing preventable deaths from heart and lung diseases, according to studies released Wednesday and published in a special issue of The Lancet British medical journal.
"Relying on fossil fuels leads to unhealthy lifestyles, increasing our chances for getting sick and in some cases takes years from our lives," US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a telecast briefing from her home state of Kansas. "As greenhouse gas emissions go down, so do deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. This is not a small effect."
Instead of looking at the health ills caused by future global warming, as past studies have done, this research looks at the immediate benefits of doing something about the problem, said Linda Birnbaum, director of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Some possible benefits seemed highly speculative, the researchers conceded, based on people driving less and walking and cycling more. Other proposals studied were more concrete and achievable, such as eliminating cook stoves that burn dung, charcoal and other polluting fuels in the developing world.
And cutting carbon dioxide emissions also makes the air cleaner, reducing lung damage for millions of people, doctors said.
"Here are ways you can attack major health problems at the same time as dealing with climate change," said lead author Dr. Paul Wilkinson, an environmental epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Wilkinson said the individual studies came up with numbers of premature deaths prevented or extra years of life added for certain locales.
For example, switching to low-polluting cars in London and Delhi, India, would save 160 lost years of life in London and nearly 1,700 in Delhi for every million residents, one study found. But if people also drove less and walked or biked more, those extra saved years would soar to more than 7,300 years in London and 12,500 years in Delhi because of less heart disease.
2009-12-07 18:45 编辑：kuaileyingyu
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