Wednesday, June 09, 2004


There are much greater benefits to people from spending the money on other things

Bjorn Lomborg has recently organized a conference of distinguished economists and others in Copenhagen:

"The organising idea was that resources are scarce and difficult choices among good ideas therefore have to be made. How should a limited amount of new money for development initiatives, say an extra $50 billion, be spent? Would it be possible to reach agreement on what should be done first?...

This panel of eight included three Nobel prize-winners-Robert Fogel of the University of Chicago, Douglass North of Washington University in St Louis, and Vernon Smith of George Mason University. And the other five, who may collect a few more Nobels in due course, are also eminent in their respective fields-Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University, Bruno Frey of the University of Zurich, Justin Yifu Lin of Beijing University, Thomas Schelling of the University of Maryland, and Nancy Stokey of the University of Chicago....


The top of this list was not the problem. Ranked first was a package of measures aimed at controlling HIV/AIDS. Next came a set of interventions aimed at fighting malnutrition. The third-ranked policy did raise a few eyebrows, among economists and NGO sceptics alike: "multilateral and unilateral action to reduce trade barriers and eliminate agricultural subsidies." ("Why so low?" ask economists. "How come so high?" reply the NGOS.) In fourth place, also unlikely to arouse much protest, were new measures to control malaria.

The panel rated all four of those proposals "very good", as measured by the ratio of social benefit to cost. In fact, by the ordinary standards of project appraisal, they are not just very good but extraordinarily good, with benefits exceeding costs by a factor of ten or more, and sometimes much more. That proposals this good should fail to be adopted for lack of finance is a scandal, especially when you reflect on some of the projects that governments are currently financing.

The bottom of the list, however, aroused more in the way of hostile comment. Rated "bad", meaning that costs were thought to exceed benefits, were all three of the schemes put before the panel for mitigating climate change, including the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions. (The panel rated only one other policy bad: guest-worker programmes to promote immigration, which were frowned upon because they make it harder for migrants to assimilate.) This gave rise to suspicion in some quarters that the whole exercise had been rigged. Mr Lomborg is well-known, and widely reviled, for his opposition to Kyoto.

These suspicions are in fact unfounded, as your correspondent (who sat in on the otherwise private discussions) can confirm. A less biddable group would be difficult to imagine. The challenge-paper on climate change was written by William Cline of the Centre for Global Development; Mr Cline is pro-Kyoto, and in fact favours even stronger measures to abate carbon emissions than the protocol requires. But the panel insisted on making their own minds up on the issue. Right or wrong, there was no dissent among any of the eight.

Interestingly, an invited gathering of young people from around the world attending a "youth forum" run in parallel with the main event, and hearing the same submissions from challenge-paper authors and their discussants, ranked climate change only ninth out of the ten global challenges. So much for the view that age blinded the expert panel to the long-term dangers of global warming ("they won't be around to suffer the consequences"). Perhaps this should give pause to governments dedicated, or claiming to be dedicated, to Kyoto's implementation.


(It's their religion)

Global warmers adopt new tactics: "The global warming treaty known as the Kyoto protocol is politically dead in the U.S. But the treaty's left-leaning environmental extremist supporters haven't given up their fantasy of creating a socialist global economy through controls on energy use. Rather, they've merely switched tactics to achieve that dubious aim -- and I'm not referring to making dopey movies like 'The Day After Tomorrow.' The new tactic is to pressure publicly owned corporations into taking steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions -- essentially committing to private Kyoto protocols on a corporation-by-corporation basis. The sort of pressure employed by the global warming activists is not the usual one of forcing corporate managements to cave-in under the threat of bad publicity. Instead, the activists are becoming shareholders of publicly owned companies, attempting to steer corporate policy under the guise of being owners of the corporations."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else.

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