Climate-changing human activity could lead to 1 billion deaths over the next century, according to new study

Joshua Pearce of the University of Western Ontario estimates that if global warming reaches or surpasses two degrees Celsius by 2100, then around one billion primarily poorer individuals would likely die over the course of the next century due to human activity.

More than 40% of carbon emissions are caused directly or indirectly by the oil and gas sector, which is home to many of the most powerful and profitable companies on the planet. This has an effect on billions of people's lives, many of whom reside in the most distant and underdeveloped areas of the globe.

In an effort to reduce the estimated number of human deaths, a recent study urges government, business, and citizen action to accelerate the decarbonization of the global economy. It also suggests aggressive energy policies that would allow for immediate and significant reductions in carbon emissions.

Such a high mortality toll is obviously intolerable. Lead author of the study and holder of Western's John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation, Pearce, stated that "it's pretty scary really, especially for our kids." "Everyone tends to skew cautious when climate scientists run their models and then report on them because nobody wants to seem like Dr. Doom. This is something we've also done, and it still doesn't look nice."

Co-authored by Richard Parncutt of the University of Graz (Austria), the comprehensive review of over 180 publications from scholarly literature was published in Energies.

Pearce and Parncutt discovered that the peer-reviewed research on the impacts of carbon emissions on human mortality converged around the "1,000-ton rule," an estimate that one premature death occurs in the future for every 1,000 tons of burnt fossil carbon.

"While most individuals don't understand the significance of energy statistics like megawatts, energy engineers like myself do. Similarly, most people don't understand what climate scientists mean when they refer about carbon dioxide parts per million. It also makes little sense to raise the average temperature by a few degrees. Nonetheless, body count is something that everyone can relate to, according to Pearce, a professor of Western Engineering and Ivey Business School.

"If you run the math and accept the scientific consensus around the 1,000-ton rule, human global warming will result in one billion premature deaths over the course of the next century. Of course, we must take action. We also need to move quickly."

Energy policy specialist Pearce thinks that by reframing and questioning the language and measurements of global warming, more corporate leaders and policymakers would be made aware of the harsh realities of the global fossil fuel dependency.

"The harm we are doing to children and future generations can increasingly be attributed to our actions as predictions of climate models become clearer," Pearce stated.

Liabilities related to greenhouse gas emissions may no longer be disregarded if this clear link is understood. The study concluded that mankind must immediately cease burning fossil fuels and adopt a more active stance toward energy efficiency and renewable energy in order to reduce these massive future liabilities and save countless lives.

As to the research, the following key areas should receive priority in energy strategy to combat climate change:

increased energy efficiency and conservation as well as sensible energy usage, encouraged by government initiatives for users in the transportation, industrial, agricultural, residential, and domestic sectors.

Total substitution of zero-carbon fuels (such as hydrogen, electricity, etc.) derived from renewable energy sources like hydropower, wind, geothermal, biomass, and solar, scaled and dispersed to build robust power networks, for high-carbon fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas).

creation of technology for managing carbon waste and capturing and storing CO2 naturally, including regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration.

carbon fees to take the place of carbon subsidies.

To be clear, it's difficult to make precise predictions about the future. The 1,000-ton rule is only a best guess within an order of magnitude. There will probably be between one and tenth of a person killed for every 1,000 tons of cause. In any case, it is abundantly evident that we must move quickly," added Pearce.

To a billion people, global warming is the difference between life and death. Most people concur that every human life has value, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or cultural or ethnic heritage. Consequently, starting from now, the energy transition will need to alter considerably more quickly."