I have written many times that someday we will look back on the early 21st century and decide that the obsessive focus on Co2 and global warming gutted the environmental movements effectiveness for a generation. While we focus on overblown fears of global warming, warming that may be more expensive to stop than it actually hurts us, real environmental problems we know how to solve go neglected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released its first report on children's health and the environment, showing that the effects of pollution are felt most strongly by the very young. Of the deaths of children under five, a quarter are caused by smog, second-hand smoke, inadequate hygiene, unsafe water and other environmental risks. "[Young children's] developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.
Much of this is sadly preventable. WHO said that 570,000 children were killed by respiratory infections like pneumonia that are attributable to second-hand smoke and indoor and outdoor air pollution, for instance. 361,000 were killed by diarrhea caused by a lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. 270,000 infants died in their first month from conditions like prematurity, caused by unclear water and air.
WHO said many deaths are caused by environmental hazards like electronic waste that exposes kids to mercury, lead and other toxins. Air pollution is another obvious problem, especially in large cities like Beijing and Paris
These are all things we know how to fix. We are not sure how to run a growing modern economy with current technology without producing CO2, but we sure as heck know how to fix this stuff. The global warming obsession diverts resources and attention from things we really could improve. What is more, many of these things - like access to clean water - can only be hurt by the current environmental obsession to eliminate fossil fuel use and (among the extreme) upend market capitalism. Economic growth and development is what tends to fix many of these problems, which certainly is not going to happen as rapidly if energy costs skyrocket.
But it is even worse. The linked article begins with a view of polluted Paris. How can Paris be such a mess? I thought all we Americans were environmental Neanderthals compared to Europeans, but none of our cities look like this any more. And France actually has the largest commitment to clean nuclear power in the world, so what is up? One likely cause is the EU's fixation on pushing consumers into diesel cars in the name of fighting global warming. Diesel cars produce a smidgen less Co2 per mile (because they are efficient) but also produce all sorts of pollutants that are hard to eliminate. That picture of Paris might be labelled "Paris after obsession with global warming".
The article and report does of course mention global warming. One of the first rules of modern environmentalism is that no negative environmental report or study can be published without blaming global warming in some way, even if there is no evidence for it. From the same article:
Climate change is also a leading issue, since it causes pollen growth that is "associated with increased rates of asthma in children," the organization says. Between 11 and 14 percent of children under five currently report asthma issues, and around 44 percent are related to environmental exposure.
Seriously, this is what they have? Pollen? While 44 percent of asthma is from environmental sources, they present no evidence (because none exists) of how much asthma is from incremental pollen from global warming. This is so weak compared to the other problems they outline that I am amazed they can't see themselves how weak the contrast looks. (If you were tasked to reduce asthma from manmade sources in China, would you look at particulates in the air that create the brown clouds over Beijin or would you go after pollen from global warming?)
By the way, the Engadget article (Engadget is apparently abandoning blogging about gadgets in favor of becoming the next online MSNBC) concludes:
Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled congress and Donald Trump have rolled back environmental protections, and the White House plans to cut the EPA's budget up to 40 percent. That's a major setback for environmentalists and other activists, but the WHO report is a timely reminder of exactly for whom we need to clean things up.
Twenty years ago, the clean air and water acts enjoyed tremendous public support, even grudgingly among Republicans. No one, even in the Left-hated Reagan Administration, ever made a serious effort to impinge on them. However, over the last 20 years, environmentalists have overreached themselves. Their obsession on climate and other crazy overreaches (like the Waters of the United States rules) have caused a lot of people to starting thinking all environmentalism is bullsh*t. Yet another way the global warming obsession is undermining the environmental movement.
Postscript: This is also the reason for my climate plan with a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Give global warming folks what they are asking for in a very low cost way and then lets move on to fixing stuff that matters.