Air Pollution Kills Half a Million Babies Every Year … But Who Cares, it is not COVID-19!


Diseases which can’t be exploited for their political and economic interests are not relevant for the ruling class


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 23 October 2020,




A new global study, State of Global Air 2020, shows the devastating effects of air pollution for public health. [1] The report, published by the Health Effects Institute, concludes: “In 2019, air pollution ranked 4th among major mortality risk factors globally, accounting for nearly 6.75 million early deaths.” Particularly shocking is the fact “that 476,000 newborns worldwide died in 2019 as a result of air pollution exposure.


The study elaborates in detail that long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to millions of annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases, and neonatal diseases. It finds, among others, that nearly two-thirds of the deaths of infants were linked to use of solid fuels such as charcoal, wood, and animal dung for cooking. This is the result of the fact that 49% of the world’s population – about 3.8 billion people – [is] exposed to household air pollution from the burning of solid fuels.


Most of these babies who died from air pollution within one month after birth are from India (116,000) and Sub-Sahara Africa (236,000).


This report is shocking, first, because it shows the extraordinary large number of preventable deaths worldwide. Air pollution is not a “natural disease” but a result of the reckless capitalist mode of production which, on one hand, destroys nature by widespread burning of fossil fuel and the resulting ozone pollution. On the other hand, the global capitalist system forces large sectors of humanity to live under poor conditions without the possibility of proper living and cooking conditions.


Under “normal” conditions, this report should provoke a public outcry. But, investigate yourself and go to the internet or open the daily newspaper. You will hardly find any mention of this report about the consequences of air pollution. However, you will find an endless amount of dramatic reports about COVID-19 (“the worst pandemic in modern history” as they like to call it). Until now, a bit more than one million people have died because of the Corona Virus. Surely, this is a tragedy. But then it is at least six times as much of a tragedy if 6,75 million people die every year because of air pollution. And even more so since this includes not only people in their 70s, 80s and 90s but also half a million infants who were just beginning their lives!


So, we have to ask ourselves how it is possible that the governments and the bourgeois media raise such a hue and cry about the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic but not the slightest peep about the many more victims of air pollution?


After all, the governments – and their wiling tools among the scientists and journalists – are not becoming tired to claim that their primary goal is saving lives. This is supposedly the reason why they are imposing Lockdowns, imprisoning millions and millions of people to stay at home, wrecking small businesses, limiting the right to assembly and demonstrate, expanding the police and surveillance state, etc. But while the bourgeois governments are ready to accept extraordinary economic losses, resulting from these measures, and spending billions and billions of dollars to support the pharmaceutical industry for the production of new vaccines, they show no interest to invest a significant amount of money in order to help reducing air pollution.


However, the reasons for this obscene hypocrisy are not so difficult to understand. As the RCIT has elaborated in numerous documents, the ruling class massively exploits COVID-19 pandemic to advance their political and economic interests. [2] In contrast, air pollution can not serve such a purpose.


1) The COVID-19 pandemic can be utilized as excuse to explain the Third Depression of the capitalist world economy (which in fact has begun in late 2019 and has been caused by the inner contradictions of the profit-driven system) [3]; Air pollution can not be utilized for such a ideological manoeuvre.


2) The COVID-19 pandemic serves the ruling class to provoke fear and panic and to utilize such a climate for political objectives like justifying the expansion of the police and surveillance state, the attacks on democratic rights, etc.; [4]


3) Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic offers extraordinary business opportunities for capitalist corporations – in industries like drugs, biotechnology, robotics, Artificially Intelligence and the whole IT industry, the military-industrial complex, the whole online retail sector, etc.;


4) Finally, air pollution kills mostly people in China and the semi-colonial countries – not in the imperialist West. “Their” babies die, not “ours”! So why should the governments and the monopolies of the imperialist metropolises spend money in order to save the lives of babies in the poor countries?!


This is the cynical logic of the capitalist rulers and business captains! The task of socialists is not to support the ruling elite, their Lockdown madness and their hypercritical propaganda but rather to overthrow these power-hungry parasites. We can only stop the unnecessary deaths of millions of people if we kill capitalism!


[1] Health Effects Institute: State of Global Air 2020. Special Report, Boston 2020. All quotes in this article are from this study.

[2] The RCIT has analyzed the COVID-19 counterrevolution extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February we have published more than fifty documents which are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: In particular we refer readers to the RCIT Manifesto: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020,; see also Michael Pröbsting’s book: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, In addition, we draw attention to our very first article on this issue by Almedina Gunić: Coronavirus: "I am not a Virus"... but WE will be the Cure! The chauvinist campaign behind the “Wuhan Coronavirus” hysteria and the revolutionary answer, 2 February 2020,; See also by Michael Pröbsting: The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. On the ruling class strategy in the current conjuncture, its inner contradictions and the perspectives of the workers and popular resistance, 20 July 2020, Our latest article is by Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: Watch Your Back, Lockdown Gangsters! A new wave of draconic Lockdowns sweeps Europe but popular resistance and criticism of medical scientists are increasing, 21 October 2020,

[3] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Another Great Recession of the Capitalist World Economy Has Begun. The economic crisis is an important factor in the current dramatic shift in the world situation, 19 October 2019,; see also chapter “Another Great Recession has begun” in the above-mentioned RCIT document “World Perspectives 2020” as well as chapter I of our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020,; Michael Pröbsting: No, the Corona Virus is not the Main Cause of the Global Economic Slump! Bourgeois Media Officially Recognize the Beginning of another Great Recession, 3 March 2020,

[4] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Police and Surveillance State in the Post-Lockdown Phase. A global review of the ruling class’s plans of expanding the bonapartist state machinery amidst the COVID-19 crisis, 21 May 2020,