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El verdadero costo de la contaminación del aire

PARÍS – La contaminación del aire resta años de vida a la gente, causa un importante grado de sufrimiento y dolor (en adultos y niños por igual) y menoscaba la producción de alimentos, justo cuando necesitamos alimentar a más gente que nunca. No es sólo una cuestión económica: es una cuestión moral.

El aire puede estar contaminado fuera de las casas, y también dentro de ellas. Para las familias más pobres, el problema más grave suele ser el humo de la combustión de carbón o estiércol para cocinar. Conforme las economías se desarrollan y comienzan a electrificarse, motorizarse y urbanizarse, el problema mayor pasa a ser la contaminación externa.

Hoy existen tecnologías menos contaminantes, capaces de mejorar considerablemente la calidad del aire. Pero los funcionarios tienden a pensar solamente en el costo de las acciones correctivas y no ver el costo de la inacción. Es una actitud insostenible: en las décadas venideras, el crecimiento económico y el aumento de la demanda de energía van a producir un incremento sostenido de las emisiones de contaminantes del aire y un veloz aumento de las concentraciones de materia particulada (MP) y ozono.

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