20 September 2007

Priorities

In an e-mail dialogue with a close friend this week, I explained that my position on Global Warming does not mean that I don't care about the planet. It means that I don't know that climate change is man-induced and that I seriously doubt that we can do very much to affect it. That assumes that recent changes are not a part of normal climate patterns, which they may well be.

Pete DuPont writes in today's Opinion Journal about where we should focus our time and resources. He begins by looking at climate change during human history:

The National Center for Policy Analysis's new Global Warming Primer (www.ncpa.org/globalwarming/) shows that over the past 400,000 years, "the Earth's temperature has consistently risen and fallen hundreds of years prior to increases and declines in CO2 levels" (emphasis added). For example, about half of the global warming increases since the mid-1800s occurred before greenhouse gas emissions began their significant increases after the 1950s, and then temperatures declined well into the 1970s when CO2 levels were increasing.
During the 20th Century the earth warmed by one degree Fahrenheit, and today the world is about 0.05 degree warmer than it was in 2001. These small increases have led the global-warming establishment to demand that we adopt the international Kyoto policy of stopping the growth of CO2 emissions so that global warming does not destroy us all. Or in Al Gore's words, "At stake is nothing less than the survival of human civilization and the habitability of the earth for our species."


Gore's statement is emblematic of all that is wrong with the environmental movement. His singleminded hyperbole is also an example of misplaced priorities. DuPont cites Bjorn Lomborg, noted critic of Gore and his followers:

Mr. Lomborg believes that while we must develop low-carbon technologies, "many other issues are much more important than global warming." Malaria kills more than one million people each year, and some four million die from malnutrition, three million from HIV/AIDS, 2.5 million from various air pollutants, and nearly two million from lack of clean drinking water. Solving these problems would save more lives and do more to improve the human condition than spending money on global CO2 reduction.
The final table in the book dramatically makes the case. Fully implementing Kyoto would cost $180 billion per year, but for $52 billion per year we could do much better by tackling the challenges Mr. Lomborg mentions. The world would avoid 28 billion malaria infections (and 85 million deaths) over a century, instead of Kyoto's avoidance of 70 million infections (and 140,000 deaths). There would be one billion fewer people in poverty instead of Kyoto's one million fewer, and 229 million fewer people would suffer from starvation rather than Kyoto's two million.


Hmmmm. I know where I want to put my time AND money. You may want to give Al Gore $25,000 so that he can exaggerate to you in person. Not me.

1 comment:

mare said...

I care about the environment, but I'm not worried. For every smart scientist that argues for global warming there is an even smarter one that debunks their argument.

I do think we need to address REAL threats to the environment, I just don't think this is one.