Smog in Beijing hit 'red alert' levels for the first time this week
Smog in Beijing hit 'red alert' levels for the first time this week

World leaders and negotiators are currently in Paris for the UN climate summit (COP21), a conference that has been heralded as humanity's last real chance to save the planet from global warming.

A rise of more than 2C will have catastrophic knock-on effects for the entire world - but more people are dying from the effects of burning fossil fuels right now than you might realise.

The 2012 Climate Vulnerability Monitor estimates that 4.5million deaths in 2010 could be attributed to the harmful smog-forming compounds and particulates formed by fossil fuel consumption - and another 0.5million that year were caused by extreme weather and hazards caused by climate change such as hunger and outbreaks of disease.

By way of contrast, Quartz found that 378,000 people worldwide died in war each year between 1985 and 1994, and in 2010, 0.5 million people were murdered and 1.24million people died in road traffic accidents - 2.1million deaths in total.

Which means our reliance on fossil fuels is already one of the deadliest threats to humanity - and unless meaningful change comes out of COP21, it's only going to get worse.

HT Quartz

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