A new study found that the lifetime carbon emissions of just 3.5 Americans is enough to result in one additional heat-related death between 2020 and 2100.
The peer-reviewed paper, published Thursday in the journal Nature Communications, was authored by R. Daniel Bressler, a PhD candidate at Columbia University. Bressler’s study examines emissions from individuals, coal-fired power plants and more in causing deaths worldwide due to rising temperatures.
Bressler’s paper also found that if we were to remove all of the emissions from a coal-fired power plant for just one year and “replace that with a zero-emissions alternative,” that could save as many as 904 lives from heat-related deaths over the next 80 years.
“There are a significant number of lives that can be saved by reducing emissions, both at small scales and large scales,” Bressler told USA TODAY. “I quantify that in this paper.”
The study notes that it would take the lifetime emissions of 146.2 Nigerians and 12.8 “average world people” to produce the emissions necessary to kill at least one person from heat by 2100.
The paper only takes into account deaths caused by rising temperatures, not fatalities resulting from other factors impacted by climate change, like infectious diseases, diminished food supplies and flooding.
“I’m only accounting for temperature-related mortality,” Bressler said. “So that is essentially just the net effect of having more hot days and fewer cold…