The carbon footprint left by internal-combustion engines poses not only a threat to the environment, but also to human health. Death and health issues stemming from long exposure of pollution and climate change come in the form of asthma attacks, flood fatalities, and respiratory illnesses. The ugly truth on the nation's dependence on fossil fuel is a tough reality for everyone, and yet because it is so hard to quantify it is hard to grasp the damage and the dangerous situation everyone is in. However, a new report from the American Lung Association of California, cars are responsible for USD $37 billion in health and climate costs each year. This report is able to correlate the importance of reducing our carbon foot print to health costs.
The shocking fact is the USD $37 billion comes only from the 10 states that have zero emission vehicle (ZEV) sales programs. The special provisions in the Clean Air Act allow states to either follow the federal requirements or adopt California's vehicle emission regulations. The nine other member states that have adopted California's stricter emission limits are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. The ZEV mandate requires that 15 percent of new vehicle sales are ZEV or equivalent to 3.3 million vehicles. ZEV include battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.
Included within the USD $37 billion includes the economic costs of 220,000 days of missed work, 109,000 asthma-related attacks, "hundreds of thousands" of other respiratory health impacts, and 2580 premature deaths per year. Even if you don't have asthma or any symptoms of respiratory illness, the report estimates that every tank of gasoline combusted, adds USD $18.42 to public health and climate bills.
However, under the study's most optimistic best case scenario, ZEV would make up 100 percent of new car sales in ZEV states by 2050, and make up 65 percent of all vehicles on the road in those states. If the states achieve that goal, ZEV could save $13 billion in health costs annually by 2030 and $21 billion a year by 2050. The analysis also predicts that more than fifty percent of premature deaths would be reduce by 2030 and ninety percent by 2050. The US power grid is slowly decarbonizing. The importance of renewable energy varies widely among states. In addition to the health benefits, the study also found that mass electric car adoption could result in additional savings from avoiding climate change. The study stated climate related benefits could amount to USD 5.5 billion in annual savings in 2030 and USD $12.8 billion by 2050.
And with popularity of electric cars rising the future may not be so grim. The Tesla Model 3 achieved almost 400,000 pre-orders. Though the number may decline through cancelations and other factors, it shows that a lot of people are on board for electric cars. All this knowing there are many hurdles for the electric car to overcome such as finding charging stations, and battery life. While the technology improves, the report argues governments interested in stalling climate change and healthcare costs will have to do more to incentivize electric vehicles. Perks such as HOV lane access, support the construction of more robust, electric-friendly infrastructure and extend electric vehicle tax credits.