New Study puts 400,000 Death Toll on Climate Change
by: Kate Messinger
October 1, 2012
It’s time to stop pretending the global climate change doesn’t affect us. In this election, officials have glazed over the state of environment: Romney mocks Obama for caring about global warming, Obama hardly mentions the issue unless he’s mocking Romney for not caring. But now there are facts that are too big, too real, to ignore.
A large scale study on the cost, both financially and personally, of climate change has found that not only has the global economy spent more than a trillion dollars due to the effects of rapidly rising temperatures, but that an estimated 400,000 people have died from poverty and disease as a result. The Climate Venerability Monitor was conducted by 50 scientists and policy leaders, and commissioned by over 20 countries, gathering data from around the world.
The 400,000 death toll stated in the study is probably the most shocking of the statistics found, but it does not imply that global warming itself has killed the hundreds of thousands of people. It is rather the many ramifications of climate change that have attributed to this horrifying number. A large portion of these deaths are due to poverty and starvation, a result of ruined crops affected by the extreme temperature increase in the past few years. Deaths from drinking contaminated water due to floods, which are caused by climate change, were included in the count as well as more direct effects like deaths as a results of heat waves and deaths from environmental disasters. Deaths due to pollution and carbon energy were not included, but would raise that number to almost 5 million. The poorest countries tend to be more affected by climate crisis, but of course have a lower carbon emissions.
The above infographic shows the vulnerability of each country affected by climate change and carbon emission, from low to acute. Even if vulnerability is low, every country is still massively affected, whether it is the price of food grown in counties with failing crops due to climate change or the rising risks of skin cancer. Countries like Denmark and Costa Rica have taken advances to lower their carbon emission, but entire coalitions of nations must come together to really make the difference. The study projects that if nothing is done, the death toll could increase to 700,000 by 2030.
Though shocking, these numbers are making a necessary reaction in the media, forcing people to see the cost of climate change as a specific number instead of just a general “bad thing.” Hopefully this heightened attention can push elected officials to starting thinking about global warming as a problem in need of immediate action rather than a talking point to pin against the other side.