Death by Energy Source

COP21, in Paris, ran from November 30 through December 12, 2015. By the time the meeting drew to a close, an agreement was reached. 195 countries pledged to limit the rise of global to less than 3.6°F (2°C) by the year 2100. The results met with mixed reactions. While everyone feels that agreeing to the goal is a step in the right direction, many believe that the details of the agreement fall short of what is required to avert disaster. Climate change isn’t the only deadly consequence of energy production and use.

Energy’s Deathprint

The deathprint is the number of human deaths per kilowatt hour(kWh) of energy produced. In 2012, Forbes published a list of the number of deaths per trillion kWh for the eight main energy sources used in the world. The types of deaths include direct deaths, such as those from accidents occurring during mining, drilling, and at other points in the production process, as well as deaths from health problems caused by the various energy sources.

Coal ranks the worst, with 170,000 deaths/trillionwKh globally. In the U.S., coal-related deaths are much lower at 15,000 while China’s rate is nearly double the global rate at 280,000. Oil, not surprisingly, came in second at 36,000 globally. The most feared energy source, nuclear power, was actually the safest with only 90 deaths/trillion kWh, and that was including disasters such as Chernobyl. Wind was the next safest with 150 deaths/kWh.

Oil and Gas Workers

In 2014, 142 oil and gas workers were killed on the job. That’s up from 112, in 2013. And it’s not just the actual number of workers killed that rose. The rate of death in the oil and gas industry rose as well.

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