Mining rescue budget could have saved 2,857 lives
Peter Singer estimates that the cost of saving a life in the developing world is between $250 and $3,500.
The estimated cost of the Chilean mining rescue was $10–20m. Or $303–606k per life saved.
Assuming the high-end cost in the developing world and the conservative cost of the mining rescue, the mining rescue budget could have saved 2,857 lives in the developing world—86 times as many as were saved yesterday in Chile. Using different assumptions, the number of lives saved could be as high as 80,000.
In some respects, deciding to abandon the 33 miners would have seem to be a crass decision. But likewise, diverting the money that would have been used on the rescue operation to Africa to save 2,857 lives sounds on paper like the right thing to do.
It’s an interesting theoretical debate. Imagine if the Chilean president had abandoned the miners and announced that he was instead going to save 2,857 people in the developing world. Imagine.