Our obsession with fossil fuels means that, without strong actions to mitigate it, we’re facing a future full of climate change-exacerbated natural disasters, conflict zones, economic recessions, and, well, death. Speaking of which, climate change can kill you in a multitude of ways, but the most direct offender in this regard is air pollution.
Those pesky particulates – small buoyant flecks of metals and corrosive compounds – as well as sulfurous and nitrous compounds kill around 5.5 million people every year all over the world. The adoption of clean energy would go a long way to solving this problem, and a new Nature Energy study reveals that even just a modest adoption of wind and solar power can have a remarkable effect.
Between 2007 and 2015, the proliferation of these renewable energy plants increased rapidly across the United States. At the same time, increasingly expensive fossil fuel prices and rapidly cheapening renewable energy manufacturing and operating costs were observed.
At the end of the day, this expansion saved as many as 12,700 lives due to the increased air quality in the country.
That’s not all. Air pollution is expensive, primarily because of the extra cost to the American healthcare system. Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are costly endeavors to treat – and not having the problem there in the first place would undoubtedly give the US economy a huge boost.
The authors of the new study found that this was bang on the money: Up to $113 billion was saved over this same time period thanks to the decreased incidences of air pollution-linked illnesses. At the same time, as much as $107 billion was also saved due to less money having to be spent on dealing with climate change-related damages.
Forget the fact that clean energy is nothing short of a life-saver; the economic argument for adopting it is overwhelmingly compelling. Take California for example. Since 2010, it’s earned billions in clean energy savings, and has produced more jobs in wind and solar than the entire country currently has in the coal industry.
Even just a modest expansion of solar and wind power across the planet by 2050 would result in a $12.5 trillion paycheck for the global economy. If the federal government is replaced by a party that actually listens to scientists and invests in clean energy, most of this money would make its way to the American taxpayer in one form or another.
This boon in clean energy, by the way, didn’t just happen in liberal states. Driven initially by the economic argument alone, Texas, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Nebraska have all invested heavily in wind and solar power.
Ultimately, this study is an example of the best way to win over conservatives when it comes to climate change.