1 Billion To Die By 2030: Global Warming’s Deadly Rampage!

You read that number right, friend. One billion—that’s billion-with-a-Carl-Sagan-B—fresh corpses will pile the streets by 2030. A billion! During these same years, global warming will be among us, hiding, seeking; also lurking. Is this a coincidence? Draw your own conclusions. Go ahead: draw.

Drawn them yet? Then let me give you another alarming statistic, one more frightening than the last! Between now and 2030, two billion—yes, billion again; but doubled, friend; timesed by two—fresh babies will push into view. And don’t forget that this will be the same time period when climate catastrophe starts its ballyhoo in earnest. Coincidence?

If my arithmetic is right—and this is me we’re talking about—there will be a balance of one billion bodies; not dead ones, alive ones. Global warming thus appears to aid fecundity. Conclusion: climate change is good for making babies.

I emphasize that this is my arithmetic. For there are other groups with different math. For example, Reuters reported on a report conducted by the “humanitarian organisation” DARA, which said, “A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade.”

DARA is silent on the important question of the number of births, but in their Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition they boast climate change is “a leading global cause of death.” And you guessed it: minorities and women are the most “vulnerable.” (Perhaps sweaty white men are able to keep cooler?)

How about that discrepancy in deaths? DARA’s numbers are an order of magnitude cheerier than mine, though theirs are couched in far gloomier language. What gives?

Here is how I calculated my deaths. Every day people die. Lots of them. They have been doing so since our species made its way onto Mother Earth. And this remains true even though many earnest people have tried to “raise awareness” of the various causes of death. From this we learn that raising one’s awareness of a cause does not actually remove that cause. But never mind.

About eight people for every 1,000 hand in their dinner pails yearly, a number which has diminished by half this last century, but will not, because of the human condition, ever fall to zero. Now there are about seven billion of us roving to and fro over this temporary home of ours, and there are 18 years before 2030, numbers which taken together show that about a billion of us won’t live to see Super Bowl LXV.

It is also inescapable that each of those billion souls will have died of something: some by heart attacks, others by cancer, still more by direct and indirect acts of government, etc. Also true is that those who make it to 2031 will also eventually keel over and add tick marks to the columns of causes of mortality. These tidbits may be summarized thusly: he who is born dies. Some live longer, some shorter, but none escape.

DARA says that 100 million funerals in the next eighteen years will be chalked up to climate change. And this might even be right because, as we have just agreed, everybody has to die of something and that something may as well be “climate change.” Plus, DARA’s people are earnest and caring, and earnestness and caringness are all that counts in these kind of calculations.

But DARA also suggests that if “investments” are made—the current favored euphemism for government spending—these 100 million lives will be “saved.” And this is false. No power short of Omnipotence will save these lives, nor can anything save the other 900 million who tickets are already pre-punched.

There is a colloquial sense in which to “save somebody’s life” makes sense (you pull them from the path of a speeding bureaucrat, say). But this always strictly means “to extend somebody’s life so that they die later.” Discussing “saving lives” in the statistical sense is never right, particularly in cases like DARA’s report which is based on models which themselves are cobbled together from a series of assumptions, guesses, maybe-sos, rules-of-thumb, and nobody-said-this-was-wrongs.

We have already seen that, in absence of catastrophic climate change and given historical trends, about a billion people will die by 2030. Similar calculations show that about two billion will be be born: a surplus of one billion. Since DARA’s moral calculus is merely numbers of bodies, to make its case it has to show how its model changes these background rates, including the births. Do they mean 100 million more than the one billion scheduled will die? Or do they mean the cause of death of the 100 million of the billion will be put down to climate change? Or is it some combination? How many of the two billion to be born won’t be? Or will births increase? How many people will live longer because of climate change? Or do they claim that every human must live a shorter life (something that is extraordinarily impossible).

Update The typos inserted by my enemies have been corrected.


  1. That ought to relieve the traffic congestion where I am; maybe gasoline prices too!

    Though, it might put a damper on housing values.

    Overall, a good trade-off. I’m all for it.

  2. I believe that your estimate is wrong. Of the people living now the number who will die in 18 years is closer to 1.8 billion. If only 8 per 1000 in a stable population died per year the life expectancy would be 125 years. The number that you have from Wikipedia must take into account the shifting baseline of a growing population. Because of this you can not do the calculation the way that you have. My slightly less crude, but still not completely correct, estimate is based on the world life expectancy of about 70 years (from Google).

  3. This is patently a survival analysis problem.

    Assume there is is some function S = P{T>t} where the survival function S is the probability that the time of death T is later than some specified time t.

    The question is whether Climageddon will change S and if so how? Will people live longer or shorter IF the planet warms somewhat more than imperceptibly over the next t years, assuming all other explanatory variables remain constant.

    In other words, will life expectancies change, and if so how much, positively or negatively, based on climate dynamic factors only.

    My guess is that life expectancies will continue to increase, in all climate zones over the next 20 years, if murder rates, particularly organized murder by political entities, is factored out.

    In fact, if the globe warms, it will increase human life expectancies due to more rain, longer agricultural growing seasons, more agricultural productivity, abundant food and nutrition, and the virtual end of starvation as a death factor — unless one factors in nutcase authoritarian-induced deprivations led by nutcase anti-humanitarian orgs like DARA.

  4. BTW, according to the CIA World Factbook, the crude death rate for the whole world is about 8.37 per 1000 persons per year.


    But the CWF also notes:

    This indicator is significantly affected by age distribution, and most countries will eventually show a rise in the overall death rate, in spite of continued decline in mortality at all ages, as declining fertility results in an aging population.

    so the death rate is a deceptive stat. Life expectancy (survival function) is the most cogent stat to worry about.

  5. The DARA study was “Commissioned by the world’s most vulnerable countries … ”

    The agricultural sector is still generally unaffected by pollution, but could benefit from higher CO2 levels, in which case gains are estimated at 0.1% of GDP in 2010 and 0.8% of GDP in 2030. Thus, any current benefits of CO2 fertilization are outweighed three times over by costs related to climate change. By 2030, scientists predict that all of the future impacts of climate change will be compensated by increases in plant growth due to CO2 fertilization. The very latest research is nevertheless more pessimistic than the Monitor’s assessment on the possible extent of such benefits (Ainsworth et al., 2008; Leaky et al., 2009). This result should therefore be treated with much caution.
    Page 209

    From the CIA World Factbook

    Oil production at Ghana’s offshore Jubilee field began in mid-December, 2010, and is expected to boost economic growth. President MILLS faces challenges in managing new oil revenue while maintaining fiscal discipline and resisting debt accumulation. Estimated oil reserves have jumped to almost 700 million barrels.
    Natural Gas proven reserves are 22.65 billion cu m

    Ghana’s has more CO2 related upside than downside.

  6. “And you guessed it: minorities and women are the most “vulnerable.” (Perhaps sweaty white men are able to keep cooler?)”

    D’oh Briggs.

    Didn’t you know that heterosexual white men are burning women and minorities in their carbon gas spewing death factories to power their capitalist envinroment pillaging activities.

  7. Most of the people alive at the beginning of the century will be dead by the end of it. That’s 6 billion people. The Enormity. That’s roughly 1 billion people by 2028, 16 years hence. I hope not to be one of them.

  8. [‘M’/’B’]illions mixed, several times.
    Yesterday, ‘la Nacion’ -San Jose, Costa Rica – reported that roadway deaths and homicides are #1 & 2 in mortality rates for this Central American tropical paradise. This seems to conflict with previous attributions to cancer and circulatory conditions.
    Oooops! Numeracy alert – editors of ‘la Nacion.’
    I think he means per 100K:
    Esta es la primera causa de muerte en el país, más que los homicidios dolosos. 13 por 100 habitantes.

  9. To put it in a nutshell everybody has to die of something and climate change is never going to be a specific enough cause of death ergo nobody will ever die of climate change.
    Lies damned lies and statistics.

  10. Now I’ve gotten all mixed up given the previous topics posted here. Did we conclude that nothing was something? If so, and if we all have to die of something, I’d like to die of nothing.

  11. Great post. Had me laughing out loud at several points.

    Nit. You need to clean up the last paragraph though. Several mistaken references to “million” instead of “billion” makes it confusing.

  12. Hengist-

    Continuing in the finest Trenberth tradition, by 2030 every death certificate will have ‘climate change’ as the null hypothesis for cause of death. It will be up to the medical examiner to ‘prove’ that this is not the case.

    It is much worse than we could ever imagine.

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