If the consequences of burning fossil fuels—like melting glaciers, rising seas, and increasing global temperature averages—feel too far-flung or abstract, consider the fundamental act of taking a breath of air. A new study has found that air pollution from fossil fuels is responsible for nearly one in every five deaths worldwide.
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Several years ago, when a study involving thousands of researchers concluded that outdoor particulate matter had caused more than 7 percent of total global deaths in 2015, the sheer size of the number was difficult to grasp.
Diesel trucks, gasoline cars, coal-fired power plants and other sources of fossil fuel air pollution cause an estimated 8.7 million deaths worldwide in 2018, a new study finds. For comparison, that annual toll is roughly equal to deaths attributed to smoking. The findings, published in the journal Environmental Research, shed new light on the human cost of fossil fuel use. Study authors note the topline finding of 8.7 million deaths is double that of previous estimates.