What would the world be like in 2030 if we cut carbon emissions just a little bit now?
New research shows how tackling climate change now not only has long-term benefits for the environment, but also incredible health benefits in the short term that amounts to billions of dollars saved.
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA — According to a team of researchers from Duke University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, slashing carbon emissions won't just reduce global warming, it could also prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths by 2030.
A 2-degree Celsius increase in atmospheric warming is usually considered the threshold at which the changes brought about by global warming — such as droughts and flooding — could exceed our ability to adapt.
According to their research paper published in Nature earlier this week, researchers say that the two largest sources of pollutants responsible for climate change in the United States are the transportation and energy sectors. The carbon emissions attributed to climate change are not just bad for the environment, they also have negative consequences for human health.
In their study, researchers modeled what would happen if emissions in both sectors were reduced enough by 2030 to put the U.S. on the path to stay under the 2-degree Celsius threshold.
By 2030, under this "cleaner energy" scenario, as many as 175,000 premature deaths were prevented in the U.S., and another 22,000 deaths were prevented every following year. Under a "cleaner transportation" scenario, as many as 120,000 premature deaths were prevented, and another 14,000 deaths were prevented each following year.
The nationwide health benefits of reducing carbon emissions would total around $250 billion a year — far exceeding the cost of implementing new policies.
The two largest sources of carbon emissions in the United States are the transportation and energy sectors. REUTERS
Cutting carbon emissions basically allows us to win on two fronts — it eases global warming and it will ultimately save lives. FLICKR / JURGEN
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