How many lives will the coronavirus save?

By Ian Lipton, National Observer, May 6, 2020

As the death toll from the global pandemic continues to increase, one question not being asked is: How many lives will the coronavirus save? The answer will provide the context we need to help avert an even greater loss of life from the coming climate crisis.

Global average temperatures are approaching the critical 1.5 C threshold above pre-industrial levels that many scientists predict will begin to trigger climate catastrophe. This will lead to a growing number of deaths from drought-induced food and water shortages, heat waves beyond human tolerance, flooding, severe storms and new vector-borne diseases.

While it is true the widespread availability of carbon-emitting fossil fuel energy has greatly improved living standards and life expectancies since the industrial revolution, global warming resulting from our carbon-based economies will soon cost more lives than the coronavirus ever will.

Every 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels results in approximately one future premature human death, according to Prof. Richard Parncutt in a paper published last October in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

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