Lowering Deaths per Terawatt Hour for Civilization

This site had previously analyzed the deaths per terawatt hour by energy source.

Energy Source              Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

Coal – world average               161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal – China                       278
Coal – USA                         15
Oil                                36  (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas                         4  (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass                    12
Peat                               12
Solar (rooftop)                     0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind                                0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro                               0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao)    1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear                             0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

Air pollution from fossil fuel (coal plants and oil used in cars and trucks) and developing countries burning wood or coal inside their homes are one of the biggest causes of all kinds of death and illness.

Worldwide, indoor smoke from solid fuel combustion causes about 21% of deaths from lower respiratory infections, 35% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and about 3% of deaths from lung cancer.

Indoor air pollution from solid fuel use and urban outdoor air pollution are estimated to be responsible for 3.1 million premature deaths worldwide every year and 3.2% of the global burden of disease.

In the year 2004, outdoor air pollution in urban areas was responsible for almost 1.2 million deaths (2% of all deaths) and 0.6% of the global burden of disease. Transportation-related air pollution, which is a significant contributor to total urban air pollution, increases the risks of cardiopulmonary-related deaths and non-allergic respiratory disease. Some evidence supports an association of transportation-related air pollution with increased risks of lung cancer, myocardial infarction, increased inflammatory response and adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g. premature birth and low birth weight).

Exposure to particulate matter, including metals, has been linked to a range of adverse health outcomes, including modest transient changes in the respiratory tract and impaired pulmonary function, increased risk of symptoms requiring emergency room or hospital treatment, and increased risk of death from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases or lung cancer. Particulate matter is estimated to cause about 8% of deaths from lung cancer, 5% of deaths from cardiopulmonary disease and about 3% of deaths from respiratory infections.

Air Pollution Control Technology is Affordable and applies to Coal, oil, natural gas, Biofuel/Biomass and Peat

The Economics of retrofitting existing plants with air pollution control and the technologies that can be used was reviewed here

Indoor air–specific recommendations

World Health Organization Recommendations to try to save 1.9 million lives each year in the developing world

* Investigate effective interventions and implementation methods for sustainable and financially viable changes to reduce indoor air pollution.

* Encourage the substitution of solid fuels in the home by cleaner and more efficient fuels and technology.

* Encourage the use of improved stoves to lower pollution levels in poor rural communities where access to alternative fuels is limited and biomass remains the most practical fuel.

* Improve ventilation in homes, schools and the working environment.

* Change user behaviour (e.g. drying wood before use).

* Prevent and remediate problems related to dampness and mould in housing to decrease the risk of exposure to hazardous microbes.

* Eliminate or reduce tobacco smoking indoors. Prohibit smoking in public buildings.

* Promote risk reduction strategies for indoor radon exposure.

There are also known safety measures to be taken with coal mining. (5000 deaths per year). Improved ventilation, prevention of gas and dust buildup. Shifting away from coal usage to safer energy sources.


Standards for cars and trucks can be improved and there is retrofit and new technology for reducing particulates from current and future vehicles.

Widespread adoption of Euro six air pollution standards on cars and trucks would save over 200,000 lives per year.

“The adoption of aggressive standards (euro 6) by 2015 would set the world on a course to prevent the deaths of 200,000 people, save 13 million tons of cereal grains from ozone damage, and save $1.5 trillion in health damages each year after 2030,” Shindell said.

There are also safety measures to be taken with drilling (British Petroleum)

Hydroelectric power

The American Civil Engineering Society and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials indicates what needs to be done to fix and makes dams in the US safe

In 2009, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) estimated that the total cost to repair the nation’s dams totaled $50 billion and the needed investment to repair high hazard potential dams totaled $16 billion. These estimates have increased significantly since ASDSO’s 2003 report, when the needed investment for all dams was $36 billion and the needed investment for high hazard potential dams was $10.1 billion.

The 2009 report noted an additional investment of $12 billion over 10 years will be needed to eliminate the existing backlog of 4,095 deficient dams. That means the number of high hazard potential dams repaired must be increased by 270 dams per year above the number now being repaired, at an additional annual cost of $850 million a year. To address the additional 2,276 deficient—but not high hazard—dams, an additional $335 million per year is required, totaling $3.4 billion over the next 10 years

Similar studies and efforts are needed in other countries. There also should be better planning and preparation in the event of dam failures. Prevent people from building along the flood plain.

Nuclear Energy

There are deficiencies in the older plants and they should be brought up to a higher standard. This needs to be kept in perspective with where the greater risks are. Simple things like sealing backup diesel engines and burying fuel tanks or using passive safety systems are well known and should be implemented where appropriate.


Have less rooftop solar and more solar like Coolearth or integrate the rooftop solar into the roofing tiles so there is less incremental risks to workers falling.


Try to shift to kite generated wind that uses less steel and concrete. Using up to ten times more steel and concrete is a source of mining and industrial deaths.