According to the report, a total of 630,000 deaths in the European Union and Britain were caused by environmental factors in 2012, which is the latest year for which data was available.
“These deaths are preventable and can be significantly reduced through efforts to improve environmental quality,” the report noted, adding that air pollution contributes to more than 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe.
“There are so many things we just take for granted, that we don’t ever question … Industrial civilization is mostly perceived as being uniformly good, just like hope is perceived as being universally good and fear is perceived as being universally bad. So we seem to be committed to a binary way of thinking, that the good, bad, the polluted, the unpolluted, the clean, the unclean - and that comes with a lot of baggage, obviously, and misinformation along the way,” McPherson told hosts Michelle Witte and Bob Schlehuber.
“We take the bad as if it’s not so bad, because we are firmly committed to taking advantage of the privileges that come our way, so it’s yet another wake-up call,” McPherson added about the report.
“All we’ve done is export [the industrial revolution] to other countries. How much material was purchased in the US this year that came from China, that came from industrialization in China, that came to a very great extent from burning coal and natural gas in China? A lot. A tremendous amount, McPherson noted.
The report also found that prolonged exposure to pollutants leads to diabetes, lung disease and cancer, and potentially even higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients. Despite these startling findings, many developed countries continue to export industrial activities that cause pollution to other countries.
“It’s one interconnected world, it’s one interconnected community ... and the fact that we have offshored vehicle manufacturing to Mexico and then to Asia doesn’t mean we aren’t still responsible for those manufacturing outcomes when we’re the ones buying the cars. It’s not just cars obviously; it’s almost everything from toothpaste to toothbrushes to automobiles to almost every piece of everything you find in your house,” McPherson noted.