“Gambling the World Economy on Climate,” by Bjorn Lomborg. The Wall Street Journal, 11/17/2015.
When people push to expand efforts to slow global warming, they often are willing to risk the global economy for even the most inconsequential or unspecified improvements, as if sacrificing the economy is a trivial consideration.
But consider the benefits of the improved economics before so readily agreeing to discard them: Our life expectancy has risen over the past 150 years from 30 years to 71 today. Over that same time, the world’s population living in extreme poverty (less than $1 per day) has declined from 75% to less than 10% expected soon.
At Longwood Gardens, I tell visitors I would rather live my life as it is today with modern medical care, air conditioning, the Internet, and Asian food, than Pierre du Pont’s life in the first half of the 1900s with all of his wealth. Pierre died in 1954, our graduation year, so I know and appreciate the economic advances since then. I would not want to go back to those days. Mostly I appreciate the vast increase in our intellectual horizons that are available even to the poorest in today’s society. The improvements are not just in technology but in affordable technology.
The world cuts proposed at the Paris Agreements are estimated to cost $1 trillion a year, yet only reduce the temperature rise by 0.3 degree by 2100. Fortunately, these cuts will only begin in 2030 when future politicians will have to decide how to implement them. (Or find a way to pass any sacrifice onto the next generation. Give that can one more kick down the road.)
As I said here before (Individual Problems and Group Solutions, posted on May 26, 2014, and Global Warming, 1/2/2008), no democratic government could survive the dictatorial control required for the necessary cuts. We need volunteers to decrease the surplus population, or, at least, willing to live in extreme poverty. Just raise your hand, all you volunteers—anybody? Hello? Anyone there?