How to save the world


I think not
#1
Bolton v Gore
Jun 22nd 2006 | WASHINGTON, DC
From The Economist print edition

A question of priorities: hunger and disease or climate change?


TWO years ago, a Danish environmentalist called Bjorn Lomborg had an idea. We all want to make the world a better place but, given finite resources, we should look for the most cost-effective ways of doing so. He persuaded a bunch of economists, including three Nobel laureates, to draw up a list of priorities. They found that efforts to fight malnutrition and disease would save many lives at modest expense, whereas fighting global warming would cost a colossal amount and yield distant and uncertain rewards.

That conclusion upset a lot of environmentalists. This week, another man who upsets a lot of people embraced it. John Bolton, America's ambassador to the United Nations, said that Mr Lomborg's “Copenhagen Consensus” (see articles) provided a useful way for the world body to get its priorities straight. Too often at the UN, said Mr Bolton, “everything is a priority”. The secretary-general is charged with carrying out 9,000 mandates, he said, and when you have 9,000 priorities you have none.

So, over the weekend, Mr Bolton sat down with UN diplomats from seven other countries, including China and India but no Europeans, to rank 40 ways of tackling ten global crises. The problems addressed were climate change, communicable diseases, war, education, financial instability, governance, malnutrition, migration, clean water and trade barriers.

Given a notional $50 billion, how would the ambassadors spend it to make the world a better place? Their conclusions were strikingly similar to the Copenhagen Consensus. After hearing presentations from experts on each problem, they drew up a list of priorities. The top four were basic health care, better water and sanitation, more schools and better nutrition for children. Averting climate change came last.

The ambassadors thought it wiser to spend money on things they knew would work. Promoting breast-feeding, for example, costs very little and is proven to save lives. It also helps infants grow up stronger and more intelligent, which means they will earn more as adults. Vitamin A supplements cost as little as $1, save lives and stop people from going blind. And so on.

For climate change, the trouble is that though few dispute that it is occurring, no one knows how severe it will be or what damage it will cause. And the proposed solutions are staggeringly expensive. Mr Lomborg reckons that the benefits of implementing the Kyoto protocol would probably outweigh the costs, but not until 2100. This calculation will not please Al Gore. Nipped at the post by George Bush in 2000, Mr Gore calls global warming an “onrushing catastrophe” and argues vigorously that curbing it is the most urgent moral challenge facing mankind.

Mr Lomborg demurs. “We need to realise that there are many inconvenient truths,” he says. But whether he and Mr Bolton can persuade the UN of this remains to be seen. Mark Malloch Brown, the UN's deputy secretary-general, said on June 6th that: “there is currently a perception among many otherwise quite moderate countries that anything the US supports must have a secret agenda...and therefore, put crudely, should be opposed without any real discussion of whether [it makes] sense or not.”

http://www.economist.com/world/na/di...ory_id=7086861
 
Claudius
#2
The Economist. One of the last remaining decent papers out there. I mean that. Still they're playing with fantasy at the moment.

The one thing that is missing in the article when thinking about the cost savings of feeding the hungry as opposed to attacking global warming is that people in the world who are starving are starving for the very same reason people are starving here in Canada: Food isn't free. People own it and wish to make a profit on it.

I've seen this in action. 1000's of people literally dying to get to U.N food aid while 50km away at a port city, tons of processed grain sits destined to rot in tank farms (like those big petroleum tanks). Why? Because the buyers opted out...likely either decided they didn't need it or bought it somewhere else. Maybe it was just overdrawn -- too much grain produced this year.
Why not just give it away then right? Because the grain actually has to rot and then be proven to have been destroyed (as per health regulation responsibilities of the owner) before the owner could retain any money at all from insurance.

It's not as simple as giving it away for free. We would also have to make it for free and then transport it for free.

Also I didn't quite catch it but it appears the article is comparing the prospect of forever changing the way our industry works for the rest of time in order to fight global warming, with the prospect of feeding all the hungry people on the Earth once. People get hungry again. And again and again. Then what? Whereas when industry implements a costly change we pay once and then we're done.

I remember when industry whined about having to put a seatbelt in every car: "It'll cost the consumer $1000 extra per car!!"
Didn't happen.

I remember when the aerosol industries whined and complained: "It'll break us. We’ll go out of business!!"
Didn't happen.

I remember when they complained about mandatory airbags: "Another $2200 per vehicle!!"
Didn't happen.

Now we hear the same crap: "We don't wanna change. It'll cost us!" Tough. Business is extremely adaptive to change. they'll get used to it. That logic beats the crap outta "Hey lets feed everybody for this year -- once, because it'll cost less"

Just my opinion.
.
 
tamarin
Conservative
#3
"Given a notional $50 billion, how would the ambassadors spend it to make the world a better place? Their conclusions were strikingly similar to the Copenhagen Consensus. After hearing presentations from experts on each problem, they drew up a list of priorities. The top four were basic health care, better water and sanitation, more schools and better nutrition for children. Averting climate change came last."
Amazing! Where does biodiversity come in and protection of resources and habitat for those species we share the planet with? We're out of control and need to rein in population levels. That's the priority. Then the rest will be manageable.
 
vickywebworld
#4
We need less talk and more action for us to save the world

On the other hand, we may leave the world to take care of its self
 
gopher
No Party Affiliation
#5
How to save the world?

Go the Bush route: decrease taxes for the wealthy and all will be well in Paradise.
 
taxslave
Free Thinker
#6
I don't know about the Bush route but if everyone in Canada gave me $1.00 it would solve ALL my problems.
 
gopher
No Party Affiliation
#7
Come to think of it, if everyone in the USA did the same for me, it would solve all of mine! This way I won't have to search for a wealthy wife anymore.
 
Bar Sinister
No Party Affiliation
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by gopher View Post

Come to think of it, if everyone in the USA did the same for me, it would solve all of mine! This way I won't have to search for a wealthy wife anymore.

Quite so; and I could stop buying lottery tickets and let some other poor slob win.

It is an interesting idea. It looks like the issue of global warming will take a back seat to everything else; at least until the tides begin to wash away the luxurious coastal homes in Florida.
 
shadowshiv
Free Thinker
+1
#9  Top Rated Post
What is with all the Necroposting of threads lately?
 

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