Global warming is seen everywhere as one of the most important issues. From the EU to the G8, leaders trip over one another to affirm their commitment to cutting CO2 to heal the world. What they do not often acknowledge - in part because it would lose them support - is that the solutions proffered are incredibly costly and will end up doing amazingly little good, even in a century's time. This is the truly inconvenient truth of the politics of global warming.See also Lomborg in the August 15th Guardian:
Let's be clear. I'm not contesting the existence of global warming. Doing so is silly, given the clear and strong results from the UN climate panel. Global warming will most probably warm the planet by between 1.6 and 3.8C above current temperatures by the end of the century. The total cost of the consequences of this warming is estimated by William Nordhaus, of Yale University, to be $15 trillion.
However, we need to keep our cool: global warming's total cost will be only about one half of 1 per cent of the net worth of the 21st century; that is the current worth of all the wealth projected to be generated in this century. Panicking is unlikely to lead to sensible policies. It could lead to exorbitantly expensive policies, which will do great harm.
Many of the proffered global warming policies are designed to help politicians bathe in the warm glow of good intentions, with little or no regard to the mounting costs and infinitesimal benefits.
It is a well-rehearsed point that the Kyoto Protocol was a terribly inefficient, hugely costly way to do virtually no good. Even if every industrialised country, including the United States, had accepted the protocol, and everyone had lived up to its requirements for the entire century, it would have had virtually no impact, even a hundred years from now. It would reduce the global temperature increase by an immeasurable 0.15C by the year 2100. The cost of implementing Kyoto, taking the average figure from the various top macroeconomic models, would have been almost £100 billion annually for the rest of the century.
The bottom line is that benefits from global warming right now outweigh the costs (the benefit is about 0.25% of global GDP). Global warming will continue to be a net benefit until about 2070, when the damages will begin to outweigh the benefits, reaching a total damage cost equivalent to about 3.5% of GDP by 2300. This is simply not the end of humanity.