Western/University of Graz study finds 1 billion dead from climate change by 2100: Will COP28 save these lives?

Western/University of Graz study finds 1 billion dead from climate change by 2100: Will COP28 save these lives?

Our carbon emissions are killing future people – a study published this year by Western and the University of Graz this year estimates the number of premature deaths at 1 billion by 2100. That is the main reason for the UN climate conferences, and it is the main reason for a successful closing document that includes a global agreement to phase out all fossil fuels as fast as possible. Consider these facts:

First, people are more important than money. The numbers that we are crunching should be primarily about people, not money.

Second, each one of us has known death. We all have a friend or relative who died early due to illness or an accident. We all know how tragic that is.

It’s all the more horrifying to know that we – all of us – are causing future deaths, simply by burning carbon. The future victims really exist. The poor are the most vulnerable, but all people everywhere are threatened, right up to rich CEOs and their families.

The number of people we are killing in the future is proportional to how much CO2 (equivalent) we are dumping in the atmosphere. Burning roughly 1000 tons of carbon (or creating 3700 tons of CO2) causes a future death. That happens every few hours at a major airport. Burning one ton of carbon (creating 3.7 tons of CO2) steals two weeks from the life of a future person. That happens every time we buy a typical air ticket.

But air travel is not the main problem. The oil, gas, and coal industries are still planning to extract BILLIONS of tons of fossil carbon. When burned, that will cause MILLIONS of future human deaths.

Each of us has already stolen part of a future person’s life with our emissions. Some of us have already killed several future people. The least we can do now is to spend a minute thinking about how true such statements might be. The calculation is simple, and you don’t have to be a climate scientist. Global human population is heading toward 10 billion. Climate scientists predict that global warming of 2°C will be life-threatening for about half of those people, as large areas of the world become uninhabitable. Roughly 10% of all people will die prematurely as a result. Poverty will be a factor: many won’t have the money needed to adapt. Specific causes of death will include humid heat and starvation, followed by disease, migration, and conflict. The deaths will be spread out across several decades, as existing death tolls gradually rise. A series of scientific publications are consistent with these estimates.

Global warming of 2°C will have been caused by burning a trillion tons of fossil carbon altogether. Therefore, burning 1000 tons of fossil carbon (creating 3700 tons of CO2) causes a future death. That’s the 1000-ton rule.

The people whose lives are cut short by global warming will often be very young or very old. The young will lose roughly 70 years of their lives whereas the old will lose about 10. The average climate victim will lose about 40 years. If burning 1000 tons of fossil carbon steals 40 life-years from a future person, then burning one ton steals two weeks.

In a report Oxfam calculated that “G20 countries are emitting the equivalent of 7.4 to 7.7 tons of CO2 per person on average each year”. Those of us who live in G20 countries are burning two tons of fossil carbon each per year. For every 12 months that we live, we are stealing one month from someone else. Per capita emissions the USA, Australia, and Canada are at least twice that. The average citizen in those countries steals over two months from a future person every year.

Oxfam found that “125 billionaires alone emit 393 million tons of CO2 each year”. Converting that to carbon, that’s 100 million tons per year. Together, those billionaires they are killing 100,000 future people every year. The difference between that and genocide or mass murder is academic. Why is no-one talking about it?

The situation is intolerable, and must now change fast. Fast change is possible: in every country in the world, most citizens are good people who will understand and sympathize with arguments based on the inherent value of human life.

Our national leaders and COP28 representatives can take advantage of that and move now toward a positive closing agreement. Will they?

Disclaimer: Neither KISS PR and its partners, nor the University of Graz, take any responsibility for any possible consequences from any action taken (or not taken) as a result of reading this article.

Dr. Richard Parncutt
[email protected]

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