Policies making it cheap and easy for people to burn coal have driven up air pollution in northern China, shearing five years off the life expectancy for the region's 500 million inhabitants, researchers say. In the aggregate, that's effectively robbing Chinese people of 2.5 billion years of life. "The health costs are substantially larger that we had previously understood. It makes a movement away from the use of fossil fuels or the installation of pollution abatement equipment look much more attractive," says study co-author Michael Greenstone.
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