Climate change is not a big killer

WHO , assuming continued economic growth and health progress, concluded recently that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250.000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050; 38.000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48.000 due to diarrhea, 60.000 due to malaria, and 95.000 due to childhood under-nutrition. [1]

Thats a astonishing figure. And pretty low, isn’t it? It made me curious how this related to other unnatural causes of death. And I found data to make up the following list (all WHO data) :

1.24 million deaths -approximately- occurred on the world’s roads in 2010

1.5 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses worldwide , in 2013

438.000 died from Malaria, in 2015

3 million children each year, and about 500000 adults, died from hunger , in 2013

And wait what will happen if antibiotics don’t work anymore… US reports 2 million people already each year become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. [2] Thats 1% of infected , of 0,6 % of total population infected. If I extrapolate this to the world population, that would be 42 million infected, and 420.000 dying each year. Already, and possibly more seeing the differences in health care. And increasing.

So whats 250.000 ? From these data it seems that we better put our money and capacity into solving these kind of problems, more people will profit from preventing driving risks, from eradicating hunger ( which , happily to say , is indeed in progress, data show major decrease ) , from solving health issues, and from banning antibiotics from the food industry for instance, the , though debated, probably largest  cause of growing resistance.

Purely from this point of view, climate change is not a big problem. At least, dying from climate change is not a main problem. So then what is ? Climate refugees will be, lack of energy, wet feet, hot summers, in general: a global population, relocating and adapting itself, but not dying.

Unless , of course this becomes worse: The WHO figures are based on expected continued economic growth . That is a major flaw in the calculations: There will not be continued growth, but collapse of systems. Which will change the whole panorama. Think of a huge famine, with failed harvests, to name one. But not yet projected.

And we will end up without energy , since we will not have made the transition for renewable energy in time, as well as end up without materials, since we will need ever growing amounts of energy to mine or harvest materials. But you wont die from lack of energy or materials soon, unless living in rich northern countries, where it freezes in winter ( or not anymore?)

There is however one other unnatural cause of deaths, not yet mentioned, and bigger then the others: 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution : WHO reports that “ in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk” . [3] Which makes this the largest unnatural cause of death. And the cause more or less evenly distributed  by burning fossil fuels and indoor wood stoves. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives. (Well in fact not really “ prevent dying” , but prolong lives )

Climate change turns out not the big killer/murderer, for the next 35 years. Its has to be seen more as a torturer: it does not kill you, Though it will make you run, take away wealth , make you hungry. However the biggest problem seems to be the use of fossil fuels: it takes your breath away, and make you die early. Preventing climate change does not solve this, but banning fossil fuels helps a lot. Preventing climate change is then a bonus.