In the USA, Farms Now Cause More Air Pollution Than Coal and Natural Gas for Electricity
The quality of the air in the United States has improved substantially. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford have found that, US-economy-wide, gross external damage (GED) due to premature mortality has decreased by more than 20% from 2008 to 2014. The paper is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Damages from air pollution from farms are now larger than those from utilities in the USA. Indeed, farms have become the largest contributor to air pollution damages from PM2.5-related emissions.
The risks, however, remain high for several populations, and there is still much to learn about the sources and impacts of air pollution. Researchers calculated the ratio between the gross external damage (GED) created by industrial emissions and the value added (VA) of the same industry’s output to the economy. An important caveat is that GED in this context captures damages to the economy caused by air quality alone. It does not account for other types of pollution that could impact the economy (e.g., water pollution). Similarly, GED does not capture impacts to ecosystems services losses created by air pollution. Thus, GED should be interpreted as a lower bound on impacts of industrial activity on well-being. As a concept, the GED/VA ratio provides relevant information required for the design of efficient environmental and industrial policies. Industries with a GED/VA ratio less than 1 produce more VA to the economy than the damages they inflict and are thus positive net contributors to the economy.
From 2008 to 2014, damage to the economy caused by air pollution have fallen, but not all sectors of the economy have contributed equally to this process.
Brian Wang is a prolific business-oriented writer of emerging and disruptive technologies. He is known for insightful articles that combine business and technical analysis that catches the attention of the general public and is also useful for those in the industries. He is the sole author and writer of nextbigfuture.com, the top online science blog. He is also involved in angel investing and raising funds for breakthrough technology startup companies.
He gave the recent keynote presentation at Monte Jade event with a talk entitled the Future for You. He gave an annual update on molecular nanotechnology at Singularity University on nanotechnology, gave a TEDX talk on energy, and advises USC ASTE 527 (advanced space projects program). He has been interviewed for radio, professional organizations. podcasts and corporate events. He was recently interviewed by the radio program Steel on Steel on satellites and high altitude balloons that will track all movement in many parts of the USA.
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