Study Links Carbon Dioxide Emissions to Mortality
University scientist said he has outlined the direct links between
increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in
human mortality, using a state-of-the-art computer model of the
atmosphere that incorporates scores of physical and chemical
According to Mark Jacobson,
the new study details how, for each increase of 1 degree Celsius caused
by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to
about 1,000 additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory
illness and asthma in the United States. Worldwide, upward of 20,000
air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to
this greenhouse gas, the researcher stated.
"This is a cause-and-effect relationship, not just a correlation,"
said Jacobson of his study, which on Dec. 24, 2007, was accepted for
publication in Geophysical Research Letters. "The study is the
first specifically to isolate carbon dioxide's effect from that of
other global-warming agents and to find quantitatively that chemical
and meteorological changes due to carbon dioxide itself increase
mortality due to increased ozone, particles and carcinogens in the air."
Jacobson said that the research has particular implications for
California. This study finds that the effects of carbon dioxide's
warming are most significant where the pollution is already severe.
Given that California is home to six of the 10 U.S. cities with the
worst air quality, the state is likely to bear an increasingly
disproportionate burden of death if no new restrictions are placed on
carbon dioxide emissions, according to the researcher.
Jacobson said his work stands apart from previous research in that
it uses a computer model of the atmosphere that takes into account many
feedbacks between climate change and air pollution not considered in
previous studies. The model incorporates principles of gas and particle
emissions and transport, gas chemistry, particle production and
evolution, ocean and soil processes, and the atmospheric effects of
rain, winds, sunlight, heat and clouds, among other factors.