This 2010 post from Brad Johnson is even more timely today given the efforts by conservatives to stop the EPA from fulfilling their mandate to regulate harmful emissions of carbon dioxide. I have comments from the study’s author at the end.
The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for plants, cars, and factories that emit greenhouse gas pollution. Because global warming is by definition a global problem, there is support for scrapping individual source standards for a national cap-and-trade system that limits the collective pollution, instead of local emissions. However, scientific research by Mark Z. Jacobson, finds that carbon dioxide pollution is a two-fold killer “” causing not just global warming but also forming “domes” that trap other pollutants in urban areas:
Jacobson found that domes of increased carbon dioxide concentrations – discovered to form above cities more than a decade ago – cause local temperature increases that in turn increase the amounts of local air pollutants, raising concentrations of health-damaging ground-level ozone as well as particles in urban air.
Jacobson’s study, “Enhancement of Local Air Pollution by Urban CO2 Domes,” published in Environmental Science & Technology, estimates that “reducing local CO2 may reduce 300-1000 premature air pollution mortalities/yr in the U.S. and 50-100/yr in California, even if CO2 in adjacent regions is not controlled.” The deaths represent a small fraction of the population who are suffering increased respiratory problems from carbon domes.
Right-wing polluters have launched a multi-pronged assault on Clean Air Act regulation of global warming pollution, including petitions by state legislatures, lawsuits from governors and industry trade groups, resolutions in Congress, and propaganda campaigns by Astroturf groups….
— Brad Johnson in a WonkRoom repost
JR: And now the House has “voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming.” Here are some comments from Jacobson in an email interview:
Global warming increases air pollution where the air pollution is already high but has less effect on air pollution where the air pollution is low.
(in more detail) Warming increases water vapor, and both water vapor and higher temperatures increase ozone where the ozone is already high but have less effect where the ozone is low.
Carbon dioxide domes over cities increase temperatures over the cities above and beyond the heat island effect, and these higher temperatures increase water vapor, and both higher water vapor and higher temperatures increase the rates of chemical air pollution production over cities relative to rural areas.
The results suggest a causal nature of increased air pollution mortality due to increased carbon dioxide where the air pollution is already high. Thus, controlling CO2 emissions at the local level will reduce air pollution and the resulting air pollution mortality.