Pollution deaths are the equivalent of three jumbo jets crashing every hour

Pollution is an insidious killer.
Pollution is an insidious killer.
Image: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
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Each year, an estimated 12.6 million people die from pollution, according to the UN’s World Health Organization.

Ibrahim Thiaw, the deputy executive director of the UN’s environment program, put that figure into perspective during a side discussion with Quartz’s politics editor Gideon Lichfield at the UN general assembly on Thursday (Sept 21):

That’s the equivalent of more than three jumbo jets crashing every hour for an entire year, he told the audience.

Let’s break that down. For argument’s sake, we chose a Boeing 747, which can fit around 416 passengers in a typical three-class setup.

There are 8,760 hours in a year.

Three jets holding 416 people each is a total of 1,248 people.

1,248 people multiplied by 8,760 hours is 10.9 million; under the the 12.6 million mark, but, for the sake of metaphor, it certainly paints a picture. More precisely, each year, pollution kills the equivalent of 3.4 jumbo jets crashing every hour.