Human-induced climate change could lead to the premature deaths of around one billion people in the next century, according to a study.
If global warming reaches or surpasses 2°C this century, it's projected that predominantly wealthier people will be linked to the deaths of approximately 1 billion people with lower incomes, a situation that bears a resemblance to cases of involuntary or negligent manslaughter, a study published in theFuture of Energy Policy says.
"If you take the scientific consensus of the 1,000-ton rule seriously and run the numbers, anthropogenic global warming equates to a billion premature dead bodies over the next century. Obviously, we have to act. And we have to act fast," said one of the study writers, Joshua Pearce.
The "1,000-ton rule" suggests that about one early death might occur for every 1,000 tons of fossil carbon burned.
According to the study, climate change directly leads to deaths from heat waves, while intermediary causes of death — which fall between direct and indirect impacts — include crop failures, droughts, flooding, extreme weather events, wildfires, and the rise of sea levels.
Despite strong scientific warnings, greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise due to increased fossil fuel burning, and according to the study, there's a 95% certainty that human-caused climate disruption is happening, which could irreversibly harm the global environment, human well-being, and the economy.
The study says that before 2022, people burned about 0.6 trillion tons of fossil carbon, which led to a temperature rise of around 1.2°C globally.
Now, around 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide are released globally from burning fossil fuels every year. This comes mostly from coal (about 45%), followed by oil (about 35%) and gas (about 20%), according to a study by the World Nuclear Association.
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