Monday, April 30, 2007

Some common sense on global warming

Even if you do not believe that government has any business trying to control, regulate and support "the environment", it is quite refreshing to read an expert opinion which suggests that even if government should intervene, the priorities are best place elsewhere. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, outlines his case in this interview:


And, Professor, you've called spending several hundred billion dollars a year to combat global warming a bad deal for the people of the planet. How would you spend the money differently?

BJORN LOMBORG, Director, Copenhagen Consensus Center: Well, basically, Ray, the point is to say, we don't care particularly about climate change, per se. We care about, what are its impacts? We care about the people who are going to get more risk in flooding, the people who are going to get more exposed to malaria, the people who are going to die more because of heat waves. And those are the people we actually want to help.

So the question is: Can we do better? And my argument is simply, if you look, for instance, at the Kyoto Protocol, even if everybody did the Kyoto Protocol, including the U.S., it would have very little impact. It would basically postpone global warming by about five years at the end of the century, at a cost, as you mentioned, of about $180 billion a year.

Now, if you look at some of the other things, you could do great good in the world. You could actually do amazing amounts of good to many of the people who are going to get hardest hit by climate change through focusing on HIV-AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, free trade, agricultural research.

And that's actually what we've done at the Copenhagen Consensus Center, where we have some of the world's top economists, including four Nobel laureates. Look at all the great things you can do in the world, and they put all of those things I just mentioned up at the very top of where you can do the most bang for the buck. And they said, climate change, through Kyoto Protocol, is actually a bad investment. Simply for every dollar you invest, you only end up doing about 30 cents worth of good.


RAY SUAREZ: But you do accept the proposition that human activity is changing the climate of the planet?

BJORN LOMBORG: Absolutely. I think, as you also mentioned, we've seen huge U.N. climate panel reports come out, and they've been ever more certain that climate is changing. We do have an impact. And, therefore, it's also important that we address the question, what should we do?

But we've also got to remember, just like we know that it's CO-2 that causes a part, at least, of climate change, we also know that HIV causes AIDS. We also know that mosquitoes cause malaria. We know that lack of food causes malnutrition.

Now, we know a lot of these things. We don't fix all problems in the world right now. And so I urge people to start thinking, not just to go for the most fashionable problem, but to actually ask the very fundamental question of saying, if you can't do it all -- and clearly we don't -- where can you do the most good first?