“WHO CRA estimated that indoor smoke from solid fuels (biomass and coal) causes about 36% of DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) lost from respiratory infectious, 22% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and about 1.5% from lung cancer, which equals about 1.6 million premature deaths every year. Indoor air pollution was also associated with tuberculosis, low birthweight, cancer, cataracts, and possibly asthma and heart disease. About a third of the attributable burden of disease worldwide due to indoor air pollution occurs in Africa and 37% in southeast Asia.”
The exploitation of fossil fuels is integral to modern living and has been a key element of the rapid technological, social, and cultural changes of the past 250 years. Although such changes have brought undeniable benefits, this exploitation has contributed to a burden of illness through pollution of local and regional environments, and is the dominant cause of climate change. This pattern of development is therefore unsustainable at a global level. At the same time, about 2.4 billion of the world’s population, disadvantaged by lack of access to clean energy, are exposed to high levels of indoor air pollutants from the inefficient burning of biomass fuels. Even in high-income countries, many people live in fuel poverty, and throughout the world, increasingly sedentary lifestyles (to which fossil-fuel-dependent transport systems contribute) are leading to chronic disease and injuries. Energy security is also an issue of growing concern to many governments in both the developed and developing world, and a potential source of international tension and conflict. In this Series, we examine the opportunities to improve health, reduce climate effects, and promote development through realistic adjustments in the way energy and food are produced and consumed.