The failure to persuade a sizable percentage of Americans that climate change poses a clear and present danger is one of the great failures in marketing and the subject of considerable debate among scientists, academics and politicians. But there is one argument for taking action against global warming that has resonated: health.
When the Koch brothers and two Texas oil companies bankrolled a California ballot initiative in 2010 to gut the state’s landmark global warming law, billionaire activists activist Tom Steyer and his allies defeated the measure in part by arguing not that it would lead to climate catastrophe but would harm Californians’ health by allowing petroleum giants to pollute while keeping smog-creating cars on the road.
Now there are some hard numbers to back up those claims. A study released this week by the Environmental Defense Fund and the California chapter of the American Lung Association analyzed the impact of California’s cap-and-trade emissions program -- which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 -- as well as the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which mandates a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2020.
“By 2025, the health benefits of the LCFS and [cap-and-trade] will save $8.3 billion in pollution-related health costs such as avoided hospital visits and lost work days,” the report states. “In addition, these policies will prevent 38,000 asthma attacks as well as 600 heart attacks, 880 premature deaths, and almost 75,000 lost work days -- all caused by air pollution.”