Friday, September 19, 2008

Slow Down

Bjørn Lomborg takes on the need for speed in the September 15th Australian:
One commonly repeated argument for doing something about climate change sounds compelling, but turns out to be almost fraudulent. It is based on comparing the cost of action with the cost of inaction, and almost every major politician in the world uses it. . .

Of course, politicians should be willing to spend 0.5 per cent of GDP to avoid a 20 per cent cost of GDP. This sounds eminently sensible, until you realise that [European Commission president Jose Manuel] Barroso is comparing two entirely different issues.

The 0.5-per-cent-of-GDP expense will reduce emissions ever so slightly (if everyone in the EU actually fulfills their requirements for the rest of the century, global emissions will fall by about 4 per cent). This would reduce the temperature increase expected by the end of the century by just 0.05C. Thus, the EU's immensely ambitious program will not stop or even have a significant impact on global warming.

In other words, if Barroso fears costs of 20 per cent of GDP in the year 2100, the 0.5 per cent payment every year of this century will do virtually nothing to change that cost. We would still have to pay by the end of the century, only now we would also have made ourselves poorer in the 90 years preceding it. . .

The inaction argument makes us spend vast resources on policies that will do virtually nothing to deal with climate change, thereby diverting those resources from policies that could actually make an impact.

We would never accept medical practitioners advising ultra-expensive and ineffective aspirins for gangrene because the cost of aspirin outweighs the cost of losing the leg. Why, then, should we tolerate such fallacious arguments when debating the costliest public policy decision in the history of mankind?
I wonder if Roger Ebert is listening?

(via Planet Gore)

1 comment:

OBloodyHell said...

> This would reduce the temperature increase expected by the end of the century by just 0.05C.

Carl, the really important thing is that you grasp that the very notion that they can tell you JACK about the effects of CO2 reduction to the point of accuracy down to five hundredths of a degree is itself preposterous.

These morons can't predict the course of a hurricane within a swath better than 500 miles wide four days in advance, but they're going to tell you the effects of CO2 to five hundredths of a degree -- 90 years from now ?!?

They predict "no ice" in the Arctic this summer, then are off by, oh, 40% of the total Arctic ice volume?

And believing in anything they say is a *good* idea?
Uh, sure.
Look, don't come any closer.
I warn you...
I'm armed.