Sunday, July 09, 2006

Setting Priorities: Why Preventing HIV/AIDS is More Important than Fixing Global Warming

Last Sunday, I mentioned Bjorn Lomborg in a previous post on the inconvenient facts surrrounding global warming. It turns out that OpinionJournal.com ran an interview with Lomborg in their Saturday edition. Lomborg argues that if world leaders applied more cost-benefit analysis to global problems they'd find solutions to global warming among the least cost-efficient, and they'd rank reducing greenhouse emissions at the bottom of international priorities. Here's a snippet:

Bjorn Lomborg busted--and that is the only word for it--onto the world scene in 2001 with the publication of his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist." A one-time Greenpeace enthusiast, he'd originally planned to disprove those who said the environment was getting better. He failed. And to his credit, his book said so, supplying a damning critique of today's environmental pessimism. Carefully researched, it offered endless statistics--from official sources such as the U.N.--showing that from biodiversity to global warming, there simply were no apocalypses in the offing. "Our history shows that we solve more problems than we create," he tells me. For his efforts, Mr. Lomborg was labeled a heretic by environmental groups--whose fundraising depends on scaring the jeepers out of the public--and became more hated by these alarmists than even (if possible) President Bush.

Yet the experience left Mr. Lomborg with a taste for challenging conventional wisdom. In 2004, he invited eight of the world's top economists--including four Nobel Laureates--to Copenhagen, where they were asked to evaluate the world's problems, think of the costs and efficiencies attached to solving each, and then produce a prioritized list of those most deserving of money. The well-publicized results (and let it be said here that Mr. Lomborg is no slouch when it comes to promoting himself and his work) were stunning. While the economists were from varying political stripes, they largely agreed. The numbers were just so compelling: $1 spent preventing HIV/AIDS would result in about $40 of social benefits, so the economists put it at the top of the list (followed by malnutrition, free trade and malaria). In contrast, $1 spent to abate global warming would result in only about two cents to 25 cents worth of good; so that project dropped to the bottom.
Read the whole interview. When I last posted on this,
one of my commenters disagreed with Richard Lindzen's review of the scientific research findings on the greenhouse phenomenon. I guess that just further illustrates the point that there's no agreement among the scientific community on the topic.

2 comments:

prying1 said...

It is hard to argue against facts but I'm certain the "environmental groups--whose fundraising depends on scaring the jeepers out of the public--" will do all they can to get people to ignore the truth.

Donald Douglas said...

Right you are, Paul. Thanks for stopping by.