This report does not say what the Guardian headline writers think it does:
Three Americans create enough carbon emissions to kill one person, study finds
The analysis draws on public health studies that conclude that for every 4,434 metric tons of CO2 produced, one person globally will die
Nope, that’s not what it does say:
The lifestyles of around three average Americans will create enough planet-heating emissions to kill one person, and the emissions from a single coal-fired power plant are likely to result in more than 900 deaths, according to the first analysis to calculate the mortal cost of carbon emissions.
The new research builds upon what is known as the “social cost of carbon”, a monetary figure placed upon the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide emissions, by assigning an expected death toll from the emissions that cause the climate crisis.
The analysis draws upon several public health studies to conclude that for every 4,434 metric tons of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere beyond the 2020 rate of emissions, one person globally will die prematurely from the increased temperature. This additional CO2 is equivalent to the current lifetime emissions of 3.5 Americans.
This is about the marginal emissions above the 2020 rate. Which is useful because that number is falling:
So Americans are saving lives then.
Of course, the report and model being used is bollocks anyway. Firstly this:
In the baseline emissions scenario
Yes, they’ve used RCP 8.5 which is, as we all know, entire bollocks. Precisely because, as we all know and the chart above shows, we’ve already taken actions that ensure that emissions are not going to continue rising off into that far future.
We find that in the DICE baseline scenario that results in 4.1 °C warming above preindustrial temperatures
They’re using nonce boy bollocks assumptions.
So is this:
We leverage recent methodology77,78 to calibrate the welfare loss from higher mortality in general equilibrium to VSLY as a multiple of consumption (see Supplementary Materials for details). DICE-EMR is a single representative agent global macroeconomic model, so this is calibrated as a multiple of global average consumption, which is just under $12,000 in 2020.
Nope, poor people’s lives are worth less. Because – and this is not a moral point – the valuation being done is the consumption missed by being dead. So, the consumption being missed by poor people being dead is less than that of rich people being so. Averaging out the number across all humans is incorrect therefore. But it is one of the things which drives, in a major manner, this answer.
Oh, and one more thing. This is a calculation of one single bad thing – higher temperature driven deaths – not all things. Like, say, greater food availability through higher CO2 levels for plants and all that.
It’s not, not at all, what The Guardian seems to think it is.