We’ve had 20 years of futile government efforts to stop global warming, yet we are pursuing the same policies that led to the futility. How about trying something new, asks Bjorn Lomborg in today’s Wall Street Journal Opinion section.
Lomborg’s op-ed is mostly restating what he’s said elsewhere. He thinks we should spend money on researching technology and consider geo-engineering our solutions.
The most relevant argument he makes is about cost and benefit, which doesn’t seem to com up often enough in global warming debates. Here’s his take:
To inform the debate, the Copenhagen Consensus centre has commissioned research looking at the costs and benefits of all the policy options. For example, internationally renowned climate economist Richard Tol of Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute finds that a low carbon tax of $2 a metric ton (1.2 tons U.S.) is the only carbon reduction policy that would make economic sense. But his research demonstrates the futility of trying to use carbon cuts to keep temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which many argue would avoid the worst of climate change’s impacts.
Some economic models find that target impossible to reach without drastic action, like cutting the world population by a third. Other models show that achieving the target by a high CO2 tax would reduce world GDP a staggering 12.9% in 2100—the equivalent of $40 trillion a year.
Some may claim that global warming will be so terrible that a 12.9% reduction in GDP is a small price to pay. But consider that the majority of economic models show that unconstrained global warming would cost rich nations around 2% of GDP and poor countries around 5% by 2100.
Even those figures are an overstatement. A group of climate economists at the University of Venice led by Carlo Carraro looked closely at how people will adapt to climate change. Their research for the Copenhagen Consensus centre showed that farmers in areas with less water for agriculture could use more drip irrigation, for example, while those with more water will grow more crops. Read it at the WSJ→
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