valuing lives

that leaves us to the last order of business for today:
valuing human lives

if global warming leads to more deaths
interventions will save lives
how many lives do we want to save?
offer the opportunity of a life well-played

for a long time, we asked
how much do we want to pay?
today, we vote

to bring monetary value to the prevention of a single climate-kill
all in favor of the value of death by global warming
say “aye”

if we can calculate
how many people we can save
what will it take before we ask who?


In 2012, Professor John Broome from the University of Oxford published his thinking on the ethical implications of global warming in his book Climate Matters. Chapter 9 deals with valuing lives under global warming. The concept itself is already widely applied in e.g. decision making processes in public health and engineering. This poem places itself at a meeting where that value is decided on.