In a little-noticed study released Monday, a team of Princeton University economists said that an average of one million people would save the planet by 2030.
Their study is part of a larger effort by Princeton researchers to try to better understand how a small number of people can make the world a better place.
“The people who are making this happen will not only save the earth, they’ll save you too,” said Robert J. S. Atkinson, an economist who led the study, which was published online by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Atkinson and the other researchers focused on how an average household can generate the $5.2 trillion needed to prevent a 10 percent global rise in global temperature.
Atkinson’s team, based at Princeton’s Center for Economic and Policy Research, looked at how household spending, which includes food, energy and clothing, can be scaled up to offset a rise in the cost of energy and other goods.
The results show that it can.
Atkinson said the cost-of-living index is a useful proxy for a household’s ability to generate enough money to cover the costs of all their expenses.
The index was created in 2005 by the Congressional Budget Office, which uses it to measure the impact of proposed tax changes.
Atkinson was not part of the study.
“Our analysis is about saving the world, not the country that you live in,” Atkinson said.
The Princeton team’s work was financed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
The authors noted that they used a sample of more than 5 million people, including both men and women.
The researchers used a household survey to gauge the impact on the global economy of a 10-percent increase in the global temperature to the 2 degrees Celsius mark that would be the maximum global temperature increase that is projected to occur without drastic action.
The report also found that, in the long term, the average household will save about $4,000 per year, a cost that will be passed on to the next generation.
“In the coming years, we’re going to see more and more people take this opportunity to help save the Earth,” Atkinson told reporters.
“We are a little bit lucky to have this study out there and it will hopefully help other people.”
Atkinson said that the study is a reminder that even the most modest changes to household spending can have a significant impact on global economic growth.
The team also said that some of the benefits that the costliest household items can provide include lower food prices, lower utility bills and increased energy consumption.
The paper, which is the largest economic analysis of a single household to be released since the recession, is one of a number of recent studies looking at how individuals can be helped by spending and economic activity.
In December, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report that found that households that invest in education and other things that make them more productive and employ fewer people tend to have a higher quality of life.
“It’s a simple but powerful thing, to be able to spend more and to have less debt,” Atkinson added.
“This is a great thing that people have been doing for a long time, it’s a very, very basic thing that everyone can do, but we’re not doing it enough.”
Atkinson is now working on a book about the global effort to save the globe.
“There’s a lot more going on in the world than we’ve been talking about,” he said.
Atkinson also is a co-author on a new book, “The Price of Greed: The Politics of Income Inequality,” that looks at how inequality has changed over the past decade.
Atkinson has been a member of the Brookings Institution since 2011, when he was a senior fellow.