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The World's Fastest-Growing Cause of Death Is Pollution From Car Exhaust 338

Posted by Soulskill
from the space-aliens-must-step-up-their-game dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Cars, once again, are killing us. They're killing us in crashes and accidents, yes, and they're encouraging us to grow obese and then killing us a little more slowly. But, more than ever before, they're killing us with their pollution. Particulate air pollution, along with obesity, is now the two fastest-growing causes of death in the world, according to a new study published in the Lancet. The study found that in 2010, 3.2 million people died prematurely from the air pollution – particularly the sooty kind that spews from the exhaust pipes of cars and trucks. And of those untimely deaths, 2.1 million were in Asia, where a boom in car use has choked the streets of India and China's fast-expanding cities with smog."
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The World's Fastest-Growing Cause of Death Is Pollution From Car Exhaust

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @02:48PM (#42328277) Homepage

    Cars want to be dominant form of intelligent life on the planet!

    Just as soon as they get the bugs out of the in-dash entertainment systems, we're toast!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jetra (2622687)
      Damn, and here I thought Cars was just a kids movie. Who'd have thought it was actually a vision of the future?
    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:58PM (#42329271) Homepage Journal

      Wait, which book was that? I don't recall Ford saying anything like that.

      As to the actual topic at hand, TFS reads... well... not too intelligently, starting with the headline "The World's Fastest-Growing Cause of Death Is Pollution From Car Exhaust". Uh, CAR exhaust? What about the busses, trucks, boats, airplanes, and other internal combustion vehicles? Id wager that eighteen wheeler pollutes more than my car, and I'd bet the farm a B-52 does.

      "Cars, once again, are killing us."

      Uh, they ever stopped?

      "and they're encouraging us to grow obese and then killing us a little more slowly"

      Cars have been around for over a hundred years. So why is it only now that people are getting fat? You think it might not be the cars we've been riding in every day of our lives but instead the fact that everything you eat has HFCS in it, and that what was once a large soda at McDonald's is now a small soda? Or that portion sizes in every damned restaraunt I've seen have likewise skyrocketed? Nah, it must be the cars that made you (but not your dad or grandpa who also had cars all their lives) fat.

      "But, more than ever before, they're killing us with their pollution"

      Bullshit. Cars don't pollute at all when compared to cars 50 years ago that ran on leaded gas and had no catylitic converters or other emissions controls. What comparitively "little" they do pollute is only compounded by the numer of them worldwide.

      And guess what? Pollution in Hong Kong doesn't affect my health at all. My environment is VASTLY cleaner than it was 50 years ago when I was ten, before the EPA, back when rivers caught fire and you couldn't drive past Monsanto with the windows down.

      "Particulate air pollution, along with obesity, is now the two fastest-growing causes of death in the world, according to a new study published in the Lancet."

      That's because when they were third world, they were dying from disentery and TB and their countries had no cars at all.

      They're not killing us, they're killing Indians and Chinese and other newly industrialized people. I'd say it's a net win for the world. I'd much rather die of a heart attack at age 50 than die of starvation at age 70.

  • no worries (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We're seeing this because we're approximately at the peak of oil production. As the reserves dry up this will cease to be a big problem

  • ..to 2 billion people when you consider India + China. That means automobile transportation is quickly becoming NORMAL in those areas. That means HORRENDOUS smog problems for the next 4-6 decades in those areas.

    In short, this isn't news, it was expected when you consider how much of the world is still developing quickly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) *

      ..to 2 billion people when you consider India + China. That means automobile transportation is quickly becoming NORMAL in those areas. That means HORRENDOUS smog problems for the next 4-6 decades in those areas.

      Sure, many Chinese and Indians are becoming "middle class" and thus can purchase automobiles.

      But, like Europeans (in contrast to Americans) , these societies are also embracing real, workable, and efficient public transportation.

      Just because you can't pry a fat American out of a car even to walk a block or two, doesn't mean that's how most of the world's population approaches transportation.

      • by DriveDog (822962)

        Stop prying! There's a vacuum holding us in. It's painful and you're ruining the tire iron. Ever tried getting cranberry sauce out of the can by putting a hole in the other end?

        We don't like to walk because of all the particulate car pollution. Do you not have cabin filters?

      • by BMOC (2478408) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @04:34PM (#42329781)

        Dear god, why not leave your naked prejudice inside before it leaves your hands? I promise I might take you a little more seriously if you can stop hating people just because of their lifestyle.

        If Americans were still fat, but used all electric cars instead of public transportation, would you still hate them so much? Oh wait, I shouldn't ask, you'll probably just find another reason to hate them.

      • by jimbolauski (882977) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @04:37PM (#42329827) Journal
        The average American one way car commute is 23 minutes the average one way public transit commute is 53. Only in large cities is the car commute longer and public transit commute shorter. The US unlike many European countries is far less dense making public transportation unsustainable in many of its cities. If buses were forced to make stops within a half mile of all places of employment they would be a serious contributor to pollution as they would be running empty the majority of the time.
      • by sdguero (1112795)
        I think the problem is more related to the use of catalytic converters and 4 stroke engines rather than public transportation.
      • The important thing to note is that they're approaching "middle class" status. Generally, as income rises, so does pollution, but only to a certain level. Eventually, the middle class can afford things like catylitic converters for their cars and better enginges and pollution starts to decline. California, for example, has twice as many cars as they did 30 years ago, but better air quality thanks to better emissions control on new vehicles.

  • Not just cars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:01PM (#42328455) Homepage
    In Asia there are a lot of old 2-stroke powered vehicles about, each one of them pumps out up to 50x more pollutant than a relatively new car. Combined with heavy traffic means lots of them idling in the street at any one time. Many of these engines are only a couple of horsepower and cost only a few $100 to replace with a new 4-stroke model but people don't have this kind of money to spare so they are stuck with these old polluting engines.

    Back in the time before carbon offsetting was dismissed as 'buying indulgences' one of the things offsetting companies spent money on was buying 4-stroke petrol engines (or less polluting 2-strokes) to put the old 2-stroke engines out of circulation.
    • Re:Not just cars (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:24PM (#42328791) Journal

      Because of all the pollution, China is pushing electric hard.
      They've failed to meet their sales targets so far [www.gov.cn], but the Chinese government has shown it will burn money to achieve long term goals.

      And since battery technology is the biggest obstacle to lower prices, a Chinese company is buying battery maker A123 Systems.

      • I don't know why they are even allowed to buy A123, I can't buy a Chinese company even if I had the money. The Americans that allowed this to happen are fools, giving their future away to China.

        Not sure if electric is the way to go until suitable capacitors are developed. A fuel injected high compression ratio combustion engine burning methane, ethanol or hydrogen only emits a bit of harmless CO2, I'd stick to that until supercaps go above 30Wh/kg. I'm aware of problems with current ethanol and hydrogen
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:03PM (#42328473)

    From The Lancet article:

    Interpretation Worldwide, the contribution of different risk factors to disease burden has changed substantially, with a shift away from risks for communicable diseases in children towards those for non-communicable diseases in adults. These changes are related to the ageing population, decreased mortality among children younger than 5 years, changes in cause-of-death composition, and changes in risk factor exposures. New evidence has led to changes in the magnitude of key risks including unimproved water and sanitation, vitamin A and zinc deficiencies, and ambient particulate matter pollution. The extent to which the epidemiological shift has occurred and what the leading risks currently are varies greatly across regions. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, the leading risks are still those associated with poverty and those that affect children.

    So we are just moving from underdeveloped causes of death, up to luxury causes of death . . .

    Funding Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    I blame Windows, as a new leading cause of death . . .

    • "ambient particulate matter pollution" could mean smoke from a wood stove in someone's shack or from a crude coal power plant. I don't see anything in the summary about autos.
  • by Cenan (1892902)

    The first article mentions fastest growing, which is to say not necessarily the most prominent factor. Also, some weird wording is going on

    The study found that in 2010, 3.2 million people died prematurely from the air pollution–particularly the sooty kind that spews from the exhaust pipes of cars and trucks. And of those untimely deaths, 2.1 million were in Asia

    So, in the rest of the world 1.1 million people died from air pollution, that might come from cars. I wonder how many of those 2.1 million asians were from China?

    The second article directly contradicts the summary viewpoint:

    In 2010, the three leading risk factors for global disease burden were high blood pressure (70% [95% uncertainty interval 62—77] of global DALYs), tobacco smoking including second-hand smoke (63% [55—70]), and alcohol use (55% [50—59]). In 1990, the leading risks were childhood underweight (79% [68—94]), household air pollution from solid fuels (HAP; 70% [56—83]), and tobacco smoking including second-hand smoke (61% [54—68]).

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:04PM (#42328503) Homepage
    And once again, this is why I think the electric car's time has come or nearly come. Ignoring everything else good (and there is a lot), we get zero fumes (at least in the areas that matter, since the electricity has to come from somewhere). And for someone like me who lives next to a busy road, we get much lower sound.

    For those who don't know, the Tesla Model S has received countless "car of the year" 2012/2013 awards, up against all the usual gas guzzlers. And it's been pretty unanimous. I didn't take an interest in cars before at all, but that one car has changed all that.
    • by cayenne8 (626475)

      For those who don't know, the Tesla Model S has received countless "car of the year" 2012/2013 awards, up against all the usual gas guzzlers. And it's been pretty unanimous. I didn't take an interest in cars before at all, but that one car has changed all that.

      When Tesla starts making the roadster (about the only electric/hybrid car that isn't fugly)...and get it in the price range of a Vette, talk to me then. I'll be interested in one of those.

    • by Nutria (679911)

      Call back when Tesla makes a $25,000 minivan with a 275-300 mile range and who's batteries take full charges for 6 years (how long we've owned each of our last to vans).

      • Call back when Tesla makes a $25,000 minivan with a 275-300 mile range and who's batteries take full charges for 6 years (how long we've owned each of our last to vans).

        and... can be recharged within 5 to 10 minutes. After all, some of us do travel further than 300 miles in a day while on vacation, etc.

        The better option is still a hybrid. At least until something like replaceable Hydrogen fuel cells are further along in the development cycle.

        • What about standard batteries which are swappable at stations?

          You buy the car, lease the battery (or some other arrangement). You pull up to the 'Battery Station', a cart rolls up and pulls your battery, and a second cart loads up a battery that the station could charge at the optimal rate.

          The whole process could be faster than even filling up your car with gasoline.

          Add in a guarantee like AAA where if your battery dies enroute a 'refill' truck will be dispatched. I think that would be a pretty workable so

      • by Twinbee (767046)
        The 85kWh Model S can already do a range of 300 miles [teslamotors.com]. And some have taken it to over 400 [nytimes.com]

        Battery performance over time is reportedly 70% of full capacity after 7 years [teslamotors.com]. That's not 100%, but it's certainly not bad either, and ignoring the advances in Lithium Ion, Lithium Air tech is fast approaching too.

        Do you remember what happened with LCDs and SSDs? They were extortionately priced at first, but you can now get a 256GB Samsung SSD for £180, and dropping. I think most importantly, in the public
        • by Nutria (679911)

          And we all know what happens when the rich start to buy expensive things...

          They become expensive status symbols?

      • by nschubach (922175)

        I'd be happy with a reasonably priced single seat reverse trike (something like this [blogspot.com]) for my daily commute and reserve my gas burning vehicle for long range driving, trips to the market, and various other cargo needs (like people.)

    • by Quila (201335)

      Yet its price is up in the 1%er range. Absent a huge leap in battery technology, the price isn't likely to go down very quickly. Electrics are just too expensive in comparison to gasoline. Look at the Nissan Leaf, nice enough car, but it's basically an electric version of a Versa, but at over twice the price. Payback on fuel for the average case is seven years, not counting extra interest on that 2x car loan, not counting the $7,500 the taxpayers put in, but also not counting reduced service costs (unless y

    • And once again, this is why I think the electric car's time has come or nearly come.

      That happened already - in the early 20th century, electric cars were all the rage in large metropolitan areas. Of course, they were severely limited by the battery technology of the time, so I do believe if we can get the costs down, electric cars stand to make a significant comeback in those regions.

      Side note: I always wondered why city-only cars would have batteries, and not just use a constantly connected grid system like bumper cars...

      Ignoring everything else good (and there is a lot), we get zero fumes (at least in the areas that matter, since the electricity has to come from somewhere).

      I see, so those of us who live near the power plants don't matter

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:09PM (#42328557)

    in the USA the air has become a lot cleaner in the last 20 some years due to the requirement that all cars sold have one

    • by Quila (201335)

      By 1990 in America I thought only older clunkers didn't have cats, but then I found out that many fairly new cars in Europe didn't. I think the market there when pretty much entirely cat by the mid 90s.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:22PM (#42328737)

    I see this all the time:

    "Cars kill ______" or "car strikes _______"

    Cars are inanimate objects. DRIVERS kill _____, drivers strike _____.

    There was a UK traffic study that found that police cited driver error in something like 90% of crashes. Topmost cause: failure to use due care.

    People are more concerned about having a coffee, texting, changing the radio station, or just tuning out and running on autopilot because there's no consequences. Crash and your insurance pays for the damages+injuries; the most you'll get in the US, unless your conduct is completely egregious, is a civil fine and a hike in your insurance rate.

    For fuck's sakes, we have insurance companies here that advertise "accident forgiveness" policies!

    Until an at-fault collision involves having to appear in criminal court, people will keep right on smashing into things - other cars, stationary objects, and human beings.

  • by juancn (596002) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:29PM (#42328855) Homepage
    From the actual paper [thelancet.com] linked in the article:

    In 2010, the three leading risk factors for global disease burden were high blood pressure (70% [95% uncertainty interval 62—77] of global DALYs), tobacco smoking including second-hand smoke (63% [55—70]), and alcohol use (55% [50—59]). In 1990, the leading risks were childhood underweight (79% [68—94]), household air pollution from solid fuels (HAP; 70% [56—83]), and tobacco smoking including second-hand smoke (61% [54—68]). Dietary risk factors and physical inactivity collectively accounted for 100% (95% UI 92—108) of global DALYs in 2010, with the most prominent dietary risks being diets low in fruits and those high in sodium. Several risks that primarily affect childhood communicable diseases, including unimproved water and sanitation and childhood micronutrient deficiencies, fell in rank between 1990 and 2010, with unimproved water and sanitation accounting for 09% (04—16) of global DALYs in 2010. However, in most of sub-Saharan Africa childhood underweight, HAP, and non-exclusive and discontinued breastfeeding were the leading risks in 2010, while HAP was the leading risk in south Asia. The leading risk factor in Eastern Europe, most of Latin America, and southern sub-Saharan Africa in 2010 was alcohol use; in most of Asia, North Africa and Middle East, and central Europe it was high blood pressure. Despite declines, tobacco smoking including second-hand smoke remained the leading risk in high-income north America and western Europe. High body-mass index has increased globally and it is the leading risk in Australasia and southern Latin America, and also ranks high in other high-income regions, North Africa and Middle East, and Oceania.

    The news here is that the risk factors have shifted in the last 20 years, not that "OMG cars are baaaaad", still, salty foods are a lot more likely too kill you than a car exhaust.

  • Fastest growing can be misleading: https://xkcd.com/1102/ [xkcd.com]

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