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The Lancet: Fossil Fuels Are Killing Us... Quitting Them Can Save Us

The Lancet: Fossil Fuels Are Killing Us... Quitting Them Can Save Us

Jon Queally, staff writer

The bad news is very bad, indeed. But first, the good news: "Responding to climate change could be the biggest global health opportunity of this century."

That message is the silver lining contained in a comprehensive newly published report by The Lancent, the UK-based medical journal, which explores the complex intersection between global human health and climate change.

Pacha Mama sequestered excess carbon for a reason!


Might as well say food is killing us but quitting food can save us. The military agricultural ginormous industrial complex (MAGIC) is a life support machine that is spread throughout the fossil fuel powered portion of this here globe. It’s not like it’s an addictive abused substance (a commonly used analogy) that the supposedly civilized part if the planet that “uses” but just find its will power to “just say no”, endure a period of discomfort, then “recover” and go on with life full of renewed and health just as long as everyone adheres to the determination to, despite the constant enticement of temptations, “stay off the stuff.”

The energy producing atmosphere poisoning processes are currently keeping billions of people at least sort of alive, and to avoid kick starting a die-off of earth based living things so large and swift as to be at least currently unimaginable, the system has to transform in ways that delivers food, oxygen, and unpoisoned water without “killing the host” in the process.

Much as I might wish it otherwise, it will take more than individuals getting it and taking personal responsibility for making “choices” that will cause a healthy future to evolve quickly and supplant the old sick way of life.

Knowing what needs to be done is a long way from figuring out how to do it with the fewest casualties.


100% renewable energy will ease the tensions for energy resources. How we fight less in the future will be an interesting thing to watch.


The point of the Lancet studies is right on. I’ve worked at a local air quality control agency for the past quarter century, and realized that long ago that decarbonizing the atmosphere would also make it (nearly) squeeky clean. Most of the air pollution affecting health locally is created by burning fossil fuels and wood. Eliminating the burning of these would eliminate over 90% of the health effects.

Back then, it was inconceivable to think we could do this. Today it’s not just conceivable, it’s possible and necessary. All that’s lacking is the political will…and the belief that it’s possible.

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PS – I don’t know if it’s discussed in the Lancet article, but a major source of local air pollution in the 3rd world is cooking with wood. We’re talking on the order of a billion (almost all) women who are damaging their health. But wood smoke also produces black carbon, a potent greenhouse forcer. From where I stand, producing clean stoves with appropriate technology (namely cheaply and locally made, using readily available fuels) should be at the top of the list for what to do now about climate change.

There is an economic inertia that delays implementing new solutions. Sometimes it appears overwhelming and impossible (for the moment anyway) to overcome. Nevertheless there are solutions out there and more are arriving everyday. Not enough telephone wires or even an electrical grid infrastructure severely hampered Africa’s economic growth. Cell phones and solar leapfrogged over the lack of infrastructure and now Africa’s economy is rapidly overcoming a once unfixable problem. Solving problems can be done but…

Can ‘we’? Will ‘they’? or is it … Who can? Who will?

Humanity’s rapidly advancing technological civilization has immense potential to solve our problems but our global economy is still old fashioned in that it is exploitive and extractive. Ah! Therein lies the rub. In effect we still have a ‘slash and burn’ economic system. Chop it down, scoop it up, grab as much as possible and dump the waste behind us as we look for more. That has been a profitable way of doing things for humanity since there was a humanity in the beginning. It has worked for millions of years because the Earth was bountiful and rich and whatever we did, nature restored itself. Forests regrew, fish populations returned and so forth.
But now there are 7.5 billion human beings and most use a lot of stuff - produce a lot of stuff - require - want - expect - deserve … a helluva lot more stuff everyday than our unplanned growth and ever expanding numbers can handle.

We also try to do new things in the same old way as we’ve always done things. We have a tendency to try and make even new solutions ‘fit’ in with old problems which frequently perpetuates and prolongs the very problem needing to be solved. Contributing to this economic inertia (reluctance to implement change on the ground) are vested interests that impede/delay/forestall/suppress the introduction of tomorrow’s solutions when large profits can be made by keeping things the way they are right now.

The problem is that the old way of doing things carries only an indirect penalty. There should be a carbon tax if ‘we’ want to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. Rising global temperatures just mean more air conditioning to the wealthy (To a village without electricity or even running water your apartment’s two air conditioners (living room and bedroom) is fabulously wealthy.).

Solutions are out there - look at how China is spending huge sums on solar and wind which is like having a savings account that accrues interest. In future decades implementing this ‘solution’ now will create or rather permit greater profits to be made in the future. Whereas later when others are FORCED by detiorating conditions to spend greater and greater amounts to implement solutions on a more drastic and intrusive scale out of necessity, how much solar will China have in thirty years? A whole lot is how much.

You get the sense that greed is not competency but mere opportunism. Sure the thief can steal food from someone’s garden but when he can’t steal anymore he will starve because it takes to long for a garden to grow and he has waited … and waited… and waited.

We are thieves one and all… but now there are so many of us… it is seriously starting to get scary… and yet the biggest thieves… bribe politicians to delay implementing …

…ways to save ourselves.

edit for spelling


That’s a good sharp brief fairly holistic assessment Wereflea. Plus you have a cool name!

A tv program last nite featured an agrarian Chinese family, living simply in a small house, on lush green hills, farming, raising poultry and silkworms and looking very healthy. The grandmother complained about the hard work. Her daughter wanted to go live in a city built to take peasants off the land and place them in factories and other industries. Never mind the pollution I guess. She wanted to move there for the good of her own daughter’s education and future. The American Dream is alive in China.

I thought that some people don’t know how good they had it.

Climate change is a symptom

Greed is the disease

“Knowing what needs to be done is a long way from figuring out how to do it with the fewest casualties”
.There you go, those are the right words to describe the situation… This is the part that has everyone in denial… I think that many who actually really do know that climate change is real and human induced… are just stuck in a concrete box because they cannot see a way out… except… to give up the goose, … the goose that laid the golden egg of " Hey, I do not have to do all that work my self… and I do not have to have human slaves to do it… I have “oil slaves” to do it… so, my life won’t be so hard after all… and we all get fatter and more diseased and more … weak… as a species… cause, you know, we don’t want to work all that hard. We’d rather use up this planet and (pretend) we can find another one just like it.

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Well, I do pretty much agree with you… except about the part where you ask “What is electricity for anyway?” …and I have asked in the past “Who gave humans the right to electricity anyway?” …
I could say that if you are a parent with a very sick child…you would really appreciate electricity… so, health care is just about the only thing that I can see electricity being a good use for…
but, well, at this point… we know that TPTB… will never “give it up”… so, they’ll try to keep electricity around for a long long time… for anything that makes money…like Professional sports with all the stadium lights and the flying around to get there… etc… or the Casino’s in big and little cities alike… or any stupid plastic stuff… and yeah, filet mignon… they won’t do it… because there is no way in hell, they will come down to our level… and have to clean up their own toilet… …

I have recently, within the last say 6 months joined the Green Party… but, though they are very … focused on some very important issues, social justice being one of their biggies… when I brought up “climate change”… well, they didn’t really shoo me down. … but made a point to say that they didn’t think of it as an "umbrella issue’ as I do…

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The most carcinogenic (cancer-causing) type of smoke is the kind that contains oil particles. This is from burning fossil fuels (oil), not from burning dried plants leaves (tobacco). Few smoke, most drive. Private ownership of motor vehicles defines middle class life. Since at least the early 1970s, Americans have fought every effort to invest tax dollars into building a comprehensive, modern mass transportation system. We produce massive amounts of soot and oil particles daily with our motor vehicles. Soot and oil particles cause climate change/environmental destruction. Rather than legitimately address this, we’ve repeatedly (for decades) been distracted with govt. anti-tobacco campaigns. (It’s like stopping to swat a mosquito when a hungry lion is right behind you.)

Grownups need to look at the broader issues with the goal of reducing harm to humans and other living things. Somehow, this generation (and maybe others) got caught up in seeing everything in extremes – hot or cold, black or white – unable to consider the range of options between the two extremes. The gun discussion is actually about the widespread, easy access to guns, and perhaps more so, a culture that virtually glorifies gun violence.