Climate change action priorities, simplified version: reduce green house gases, protect habitats, protect wildlife and protect humans. For this post, I’m going to focus on protecting humans – operationalized as reducing the extra deaths caused by climate change. A huge factor in reducing climate-change related deaths is economic development. Specifically, as GDP increases, mortality rates decrease. Mean death rates fall by 15% for every 10% increase in GDP. And we’re not just talking about old people getting a couple extra years: on average, a 10% increase in income means a 5% fall in infant mortality.
So, proposals designed to reduce GHGs that also reduce economic development need to look at the trade-offs involved. Of course we need to reduce GHGs – but if the means are so drastic that GDPs are greatly reduced and, consequently, millions die, we should be upfront about that. Put that trade-off on the table. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.