A recent study on the mortality cost of carbon emissions has revealed that the average emissions created by 3.5 Americans are enough to kill one person. Further, the study found that emissions from a single coal-fired power plant are enough to cause roughly 900 deaths. The study, published in Nature Communications, is the first of its kind.

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The analysis draws from several public health studies to determine the exact mortality cost of every metric ton of carbon emissions. It was established that every 4,434 metric tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere above the 2020 rate of emissions would lead to the premature death of one person globally due to increased temperature. This amount of CO2 is equivalent to the lifetime emissions of approximately 3.5 Americans.

Related: Least developed countries tell rich nations to cut emissions

Additionally, the study established that adding a year’s worth of the average U.S. coal-fired power plant’s CO2 emissions (4 million metric tons) will lead to the premature loss of 904 by the end of the century. However, the study also points out that these deaths can be reduced if action is taken. If emissions are eliminated, approximately 74 million lives could be saved globally by 2050.

“There are a significant number of lives that can be saved if you pursue climate policies that are more aggressive than the business as usual scenario,” said Daniel Bressler of Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

The study reiterates the results of previous studies on the disparities of emission impacts on low-income countries compared to developed nations. The study found that only 3.5 Americans contribute enough carbon to cause one death in their lifetime, a sharp contrast to 25 Brazilians or 146 Nigerians needed to do the same.

While the researchers used reliable data, they have warned that the figures are not definitive. The data only factored in deaths that may result from global warming caused by pollution. Other risks that could occur due to continued emissions, such as floods, storms and droughts, were not factored in. This means that the deaths resulting from emission-based risks could be more than those indicated in the study.

“I was surprised at how large the number of deaths are. There is some uncertainty over this, the number could be lower but it could also be a lot higher,” said Bressler.

Via The Guardian

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