A new analysis of global datasets shows low-income countries are significantly more likely to be impacted by both toxic pollution and climate change–and provides a list of at-risk countries most (and least) able to immediately begin direct efforts toward pollution risk reduction, according to a study published July 7, 2021 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Richard Marcantonio from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, and colleagues.
In this age of the Anthropocene, it’s clear that human activities are destabilizing our planet across multiple systems. Previous research has shown that low-income countries face higher risks than high-income countries from toxic pollution and climate change; however, few studies have explored the relationship between these two risks.
To test the relationship between toxic pollution and climate change, the authors collated and analyzed three frequently used public datasets, ND-GAIN (Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index), EPI (Yale Environmental Performance Index), and GAHP (Global Alliance on Health and Pollution), using data for 176 countries from 2018.
They found a strong (rs = -0.798; 95% CI -0.852, -0.727) and statistically significant (p
The data used in this study do not capture all forms of harm or potential risk from toxic pollution and climate change–only those measured in the initial datasets. Additionally, the authors note that addressing impacts may require a finer intra-country assessment, since risks can vary widely within countries. However, the immediate findings clearly point to a need to jointly address the effects of pollution and climate change globally, while also suggesting an approach for policymakers worldwide.
The authors add: “Vast work has been done to understand the magnitude and distribution of risk from climate change and toxic pollution, separately. We wanted to know if the spatial distribution of these two types of environmental risks are similar and, unfortunately, our results say that in general they are.”
Citation: Marcantonio R, Javeline D, Field S, Fuentes A (2021) Global distribution and coincidence of pollution, climate impacts, and health risk in the Anthropocene. PLoS ONE 16(7): e0254060. https:/
Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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