Increase in carbon emissions could lead to the deaths of 83 million more people in the next 80 years, new study says
- A new study estimated that carbon dioxide emissions from 3.5 Americans in their lifetimes could kill a person.
- By 2100, 83 million people are projected to die if the global temperature continues rising at its current rate.
- This is the first study of its kind to count deaths related to rising temperatures caused by
In the first study of its kind to calculate the mortality cost of carbon, it's estimated that carbon emissions from 3.5 Americans in their lifetime could lead to the death of one person due to rising global temperatures.
Using 2020 as a baseline, the study - published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature - calculated that adding 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the environment leads to one death globally.
This amount is equivalent to how much emissions 3.5 average Americans produce in a lifetime, wrote author Daniel Bressler, a researcher from Columbia University's Earth Institute. The same amount of carbon dioxide is also equivalent to the emissions 146.2 Nigerians produce in a lifetime.
Bressler found that global warming would lead to an additional 83 million heat-related deaths over the next 80 years. As Insurance Journal noted, his calculations "don't include the number of people who might die from rising seas, superstorms, crop failures or changing disease patterns affected by atmospheric warming."
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the earth has increased in temperature about 1 degree Celsius since the pre-industrial era. Bressler calculated that the earth will experience a warming of 4.1 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Bressler's projection of global temperatures is far above the goal set out by the Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2016, which aims to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) - in line with pre-industrial levels. Based on estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, however, the planet is expected to warm 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2040.
Bressler went further to say that removing emissions a year from a single coal-fired power plant in the United States alone could save 904 lives. According to Bressler's calculations, a coal power plant produces about 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Using William D. Nordhaus's Social Cost of Carbon model, which measures the monetary cost of carbon emissions - Bressler also found that the cost of a metric ton of carbon is now $258, seven times more than the model's estimate of $37.
Bressler noted in the study that his data reinforces the need for governments and corporations to create change via policy.
"People shouldn't take their per-person mortality emissions too personally," he wrote.
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