The War On Terror has led the United States of America to start two disastrous wars, to create an entirely new cabinet-level department of government, and to trash most of the Bill of Rights. It’s all been done, they say, to prevent more deaths from terrorism. In 2012, for example, there were 11,098 deaths from terrorism, worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of State.
That sounds like a large number, even though none of those deaths took place in the United States. Even this year, with all the attention the Boston Marathon bombing has gotten, counting the number of US terrorist deaths doesn’t even take up all the fingers on one hand.
Compare the number of deaths from terrorism to the number of deaths from other causes, and one’s perception of the significance of terrorism shrinks. For example, research just published by the Institute of Physics estimates that something like two million people die every year as a consequence of air pollution.
The graphic below shows the difference between the 11,098 terrorism deaths and the 2,000,000 deaths from air pollution. Reducing air pollution doesn’t involve the creation of a new cabinet department, starting new wars, or violating the Bill of Rights, but as you can see, it’s a much more deadly problem than terrorism.
So how come the War On Terror is getting most of the attention, from the news media and from our own government?