Wind and solar saved Americans around $88 billion in health and environmental costs in just 8 years, according to Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. These researchers studied the benefits of wind and solar from the year 2007 to 2015. This span of eight years helped them focus on the time between the market crash and its explosive growth.
The data behind the numbers
They found that over this time, the U.S. decreased SO2 by 1 million tons and NOx by 0.6 million tons. The U.S. reduced CO2 emissions so much so fast that we saved $32 billion. We even avoided 7,000 premature deaths, cumulatively worth over $56 billion in just eight year
What does all of this really mean?
Of course, you cannot calculate the exact amount of money the U.S. saved, and putting a cost on a human health is practically impossible. However, the researchers kept this in mind. In order to calculate the above number, the researchers had to define a few things. For example, they needed to define the “social cost of carbon” rather than just how much carbon was or was not produced.
They realized there were limitations in models, understanding the impact of pollution, renewable energy production, and quantifying human life. It is much easier to measure costs rather than benefits. There is a much larger range on how to define benefits, given less tangible things, like psychological and social elements, play more of a part.
In the end…
There is no true numerical value on human life, but there is a massive value increase in it when the environment we live in is cleaner and more suitable for life itself. None of this is truly about money, but more about making the world a more breathable, enjoyable place for human beings and living creatures alike.
It is just an added benefit that we can save money. But what many do not understand is that human health is majorly an economic issue. So when we improve the world around us, we improve human life and our spending habits all at once.
Source: Vox.com, Nature.com, Nature Energy Paper.