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How clean is our air?

Our latest research: how to pass effective energy policy

Last year, President Trump tweeted that America has the cleanest air in the world. He’s partly right. Since 1980, the US has indeed reduced levels of the main air pollutants by 68% — mostly since regulations like the Clean Air Act and CAFE standards began targeting air pollution in earnest. But this isn’t a solved problem. 

Annual deaths from car accidents are around 44,000; from homicides, 20,000; from air pollution, 90,000. Air pollution matters, and it might even be a better motivator to enact strong energy policy than climate change.

In addition to the health benefits, a public health framework points to a political window for action. Climate is global; air pollution is local. Communities with air quality issues tend to care about and want action on those issues, even if they are not engaged in other environmental issues. 

As Trump said, we do have some of the cleanest air in the world. But we must not lose sight of the remaining ground to gain on air pollution.

Energy policy for public health >>>
New Research Staff
We are very excited to announce that our research team is growing. Today, we are pleased to welcome Lauren Anderson to our climate and energy team.
  Lauren Anderson on joining Breakthrough  
I’m thrilled to be returning to California and am excited to work with the talented staff at Breakthrough. I’m joining Breakthrough after spending the last three years working on federal climate and energy policy with the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, DC. I received my undergraduate degree in biology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and my MPP from Oregon State University. I have worked on climate, energy, and wildlife conservation policy initiatives, and am looking forward to applying my experience at Breakthrough.
 
Before focusing on climate and energy policy, I worked on field ecology studies for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the Great Basin Institute. I am passionate about biodiversity conservation, and I view climate change as one of the biggest threats to people and wildlife. I think that Breakthrough’s focus on technology innovation is a positive (and rapidly evolving) frame for tackling the challenge of climate change, and I’m looking forward to contributing to this work.  
What Climate Communication
Can Learn from Theater
Paleoecologist Jacquelyn Gill did a lot of theater growing up. It’s partly what inspired her to start Warm Regards, one of the first climate podcasts. The climate conversation, she argues, has been largely restricted to the facts, which creates a sense of embattlement: wars around scientific accuracy that leave little space for breathing room or building slow, deep solutions. There’s an underappreciated value in talking to another human like they’re a human – as she’s able to do with radio.
Climate lessons from the stage >>>
📚This is what we're reading this week 📚
Climate change might alter our avocado supply. DNA editing could help keep the guacamole flowing.

As more and more politicians compete in an "auction of promises," it's more important than ever to understand the scale of the problem.

Are we alone in the universe? It's really a question about optimism, human uniqueness, and our ties to ecosystems.
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