When we talk about the impacts of climate change, they are often presented in environmental or economic lenses. But a new study detailed the potential magnitude of the human impact of climate change — and the predictions were sobering.
Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research collected data that projects the global mortality rate accelerating to an astonishing 221 deaths per 100,000 people should no action be taken to prevent climate change. For comparison, the total number of deaths from infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, and yellow fever only adds up to 75 deaths per 100,000.
These projections are dire, and they will impact communities across the globe in different ways and to different degrees. Older generations have the highest risk of mortality due to climate change exacerbating underlying health conditions. The human impact in poorer, tropical nations will also be much greater than that of richer countries in more temperate climates.
While the path we’re headed towards looks grim, it’s not too late to take action and save lives. A Duke University study predicts that by slowing down the rate of global warming, the United States alone could avoid 4.5 million premature deaths.
Our choices have been laid bare before us, and we must take action to dramatically reduce the rate of rising global temperatures before it’s too late. That starts with doubling down on our efforts to curb emissions and introducing more climate solutions.