Air pollution costs the world approximately $5 trillion a year, or about 7 percent of global GDP, according to the World Bank. This cost is measured in a range of metrics, including lives lost and declines in health and productivity. Such pollution can be seen, felt, smelled, and even tasted. It stings and blurs the eyes, blackens the lungs, and shortens the breath. Even in the United States, about 142 million Americans still reside in counties with dangerously polluted air. Yet air pollution affects more than just our health and our natural environment: Our research shows that air pollution also has a moral cost.
Without even realizing it, people around the world may be affected, morally, by air pollution. Recent data on daily changes in wind direction in Chicago and Los Angeles suggest that air pollution increases violent crime. Using both archival and lab data, we took a closer look at the link between air pollution and unethical behavior, finding that the experience of air pollution increased unethical behavior.
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