Ten Million a Year

David Wallace-Wells on polluted air

Not​ all deaths are created equal. In February 2020, the world began to panic about the novel coronavirus, which killed 2714 people that month. This made the news. In the same month, around 800,000 people died from the effects of air pollution. That didn’t. Novelty counts for a lot. At the start of the pandemic, it was considered unseemly to make comparisons like these. But comparing the value of human lives is one thing the machine of modern civilisation does relentlessly, almost invariably to prioritise and absolve the rich – when, for example, the global supply of Covid vaccines is apportioned primarily to the highest-income countries, or when the cost of natural disasters in Bangladesh is measured against the impact of sea-level rise on Miami Beach real estate, or when Joe Biden’s onetime economic adviser Lawrence Summers proposed that Africa, as a whole, was ‘vastly underpolluted’, and suggested that ‘the economic logic behind dumping a whole load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable.’

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Πηγή: lrb.co.uk

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