How much does it cost to prevent death from climate-driven heat?


Since the past For several years, climate economists have adopted a concept called the “social cost of carbon” to measure the dollar value of the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere. In February, the White House announced that government officials would consider the social cost of carbon Formulate new environmental regulations.

Now researchers have proposed a die The cost of carbon, including losses due to climate-related high-temperature deaths.This new paper is published in the journal today Nature CommunicationsIt is estimated that we must prevent 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere to save a life. This amount is equal to the carbon emissions produced by 3.5 Americans in their lifetime.

Daniel BreslerThe Columbia University Sustainability Graduate Student and the author of the study estimate that if the world economy can be “decarbonized”—that is, eliminating carbon emissions—by 2050, then 74 million people worldwide will be spared heat-related deaths. Bressler says that reducing emissions can save a lot of lives—whether it’s individual, company, national, or global.

Bressler’s research focuses on Climate driven Extremely hot, Which can lead to heatstroke, dehydration, and respiratory and organ failure, especially in high-risk groups such as the elderly. Bressler said that in order to come up with this model, he started with the existing carbon social cost model developed by Yale University economist William Nordhaus (William Nordhaus), which initially set this figure at $37 per ton. He then updated it with the results of new studies that describe how climate change affects public health and increases the number of excessive deaths caused by high temperatures. The model assumes that industrial emissions will continue to rise before 2050 and then level off for the rest of the century.

After comparing the Nordhaus model with the new climate information, Bressler said: “I came to the conclusion that less than 5% of the original damage in the model came from death, and I also concluded that it was not updated to the latest science “Just this summer, a severe heat wave triggered wildfires throughout the northern hemisphere, and the “heat dome” that settled in the Pacific Northwest in late June caused more than 100 deaths in Washington and Oregon, and Nearly 500 people died in British Columbia.

Bressler’s paper revised the social cost of carbon from US$37 per ton (more than the White House’s current US$51) to US$258 per metric ton. This number represents all the social damage caused by every ton of carbon emitted-such as agricultural losses, productivity losses from storms, damage from sea level rise, and funds used to clean up climate-related floods-plus losses due to overheating Cost of life.

Every summer, many people die due to lack of air conditioning or due to pre-existing conditions, so trying to figure out the role of climate change in high-temperature-related deaths has been tricky. But now there is more and more evidence to make this calculation easier.In March this year, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published a study in the journal Natural climate change It is calculated that climate change accounts for an average of 37% of all high-temperature-related deaths in the world. They analyzed data from 43 countries to estimate the mortality burden associated with additional heat exposure due to anthropogenic warming that occurred between 1991 and 2018.


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