How much will it cost to prevent death by heat caused by climate?


For the past For several years, climate economists have used a concept called the “social cost of carbon” to measure the dollar value of the damage done by adding every tonne of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. In February, the White House announced that government officials would consider the social price of carbon drafting new environmental regulations.

Now the researcher has come to mortality the cost of carbon, which includes a tax on climate deaths. New paper, published today in the journal Nature Communications, estimates that we should prevent the release of 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to save one life. That amount is equal to the lifetime carbon emissions produced by 3.5 Americans.

Daniel Bressler, a graduate student at sustainable development at Columbia University and author of the study, estimates that 74 million lives would be globally saved from heat-related deaths if the world’s economies could “decarbonize” or eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. a significant number of lives that can be saved by reducing emissions – at the level of individuals, at the level of companies, at the level of nations and globally, ”says Bressler.

Bressler’s study focuses on the problem air conditioned extreme heat, which can lead to heat stroke, dehydration and respiratory and organ failure, especially among at-risk populations such as the elderly. To come up with this model, Bressler says he started with an existing model for the social price of carbon developed by Yale University economist William Nordhaus, who originally set that figure at $ 37 per tonne. He then supplemented it with the results of new studies describing how climate change affects public health and increases the number of heat deaths. The model assumes a scenario in which industrial emissions continue to rise until 2050, before equalizing by the end of the century.

After comparing the Nordhaus model with new climate data, Bressler says, “What I concluded was that less than 5 percent of the original damage in the model resulted from mortality, and I also concluded that it was not updated with the latest science. “This summer alone, strong heat waves have sparked fires across the northern hemisphere, while the“ heat dome ”that settled over the Northwest Pacific in late June is responsible for more than 100 deaths in Washington and Oregon, and nearly 500 deaths in British Columbia.

Bressler’s article revises the social cost of carbon from $ 37 per tonne, and the White House’s current value is $ 51, to $ 258 per metric tonne. This figure represents all the social damage caused by the emission of every tonne of carbon — such as agricultural losses, lost productivity caused by storms, damage caused by rising sea levels and money spent on cleaning up climate-related floods — plus adding the cost of living lost to excess heat.

Many people die every summer due to a lack of air conditioning or due to pre-existing conditions, so trying to understand the role of climate change in heat-related deaths has been tricky. But now there is a growing body of evidence to facilitate that calculation. In March, researchers from the British London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published a study in the journal Nature Climate change who calculated that climate change is responsible for an average of 37 percent of all heat-related deaths worldwide. They cleared numbers from 43 countries to estimate the mortality burden associated with the additional heat exposure resulting from human-induced warming that occurred between 1991 and 2018.

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