Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dept. of NCHEAT*...:Cleaner Air = Longer Lives

BOSTON (Reuters; By Gene Emery Gene Emery – Wed Jan 21, 5:18 pm ET) – Dramatic improvements in U.S. air quality over the last two decades have added 21 weeks to the life of the average American, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Reducing fine particles given off by automobiles, diesel engines, steel mills and coal-fired power plants have added as much as 15 percent of the 2.72 years of extra longevity seen in the United States since the early 1980s, they wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Changes in smoking habits are the biggest reason why Americans are living longer, said Arden Pope, an epidemiologist at Brigham Young University in Utah who led the study.

Improved socioeconomic conditions, judged partly by the proportion of high school graduates living in an area, rank next. But cleaner air was a big factor.

"It's stunning that the air pollution effect seems to be as robust as it is after controlling for these other things," Pope said in a telephone interview.
The gains in life expectancy are not large, relatively speaking: less than a year. The big question seems to me to be how many microns of that toxic dust are there out there, and what's the biggest number by which ALL efforts might be expected to reduce them.

An even BIGGER issue is: How shall anyone persuade political leaders of constituencies already saturated with IMAGES of an also (and ALWAYS) already unsustainable and now completely unattainable meta-consumerism that those constituents have got about as good as its gonna get if humans are not to be responsible for rendering the planet uninhabitable for everyone? What enticements are there for people who are being actively sought out in liminal tribal spaces to be "naive" taste-comparison judges between two competing fast fat joints to now then retire placidly again into the bosom of nature? Fat ALWAYS wins. So, assuming there's even a vestige of verisimilitude in the performances, the burger which supplied the biggest fat jolt would be adjudged superior by people who did not typically enjoy a lot of fat in their diets.

There's always much more fat than meat on a Peking duck...

There is about civilized humans always the implicit threat that, if "I" am to "go down," "I" shall be obliged to take some--if not all, then as many as possible--of "you" "down" with me.

*NCHEAT: Nobody Could Have Ever Anticipated That

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