Monday, June 16, 2008


The Senate debates the Lieberman-Warner bill on Global Warminig. Over 31,000 scientists sign the Oregon Institute of Science petition rejecting Global Warming. Twenty-five 6th-grade pupils in the David A. Brown Middle School in Wildomar , California, sent eight letters on Global Warming to The Heartland Institute describing what they had been taught about Global Warming by reading ten articles. The articles they read were of floods in Asia, Mexico, and India, and of the shrinking of fetuses by air pollution. None mentioned Global Warming but the children made that attribution. Here are a couple of their letters, with their errors uncorrected:

“I think your fools for denying G.W. you know it could kill us all & you’re just adding to it. I want you to help stop G.W. not increase it.”

“We feel that they are destroying our planet by saying G.W. is not a crisis. You think GW is not a crisis but it is; you know deep down that it’s a real thing that’s happening. Everyone has a part in helping GW, and you’re making worse.”

“We’ve read article about global warming. And we know all the facts.”

The children were absolutely certain that they had all the facts. But the articles they read spoke not a one of Global Warming. How many other next-generation policy-makers are being thus indoctrinated?

The Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, in 2003 invited eight economists to his Copenhagen Consensus Center to discuss important global issues. The economists included five Nobel laureates (Americans. Mr. Lomborg could have turned to the list of Nobel laureates in economics for his participants.)

The economists were provided with competent briefs on major global issues. They were invited in 2004, again in 2006, again in 2008, to rank the most important issues that would benefit the largest number of people. The final assumptions were a cost limit of $75 billion and five years for effectuating the issues.

They prioritized the issues, but earlier assessments were in four classes, very good, good, less good, and not good. Among the very good were improving HIV and AIDS, reducing malnutrition and hunger, liberalizing trade, and controlling and tracking malaria. In the good class were improving sanitation and water quality.

The economists prioritized the issues. Of a total of 30, diseases came 1st, malnutrition 2nd, women also 2nd, Global Warming 3rd, water 4th, trade 5th and conflicts, 5th. Though Global Warming in general was the 3rd most persistent issue, Global Warming was ranked last, 30th, just after G.W.-mitigation-and-Research-and-Development which ranked No. 29. Related was No. 14, research and development in low carbon energy technologies.

(In Lomborg’s view, the cost of mitigating Global Warming is tremendous, and the benefit, slight. The money, Mr. Lombord believes, is more wisely spent advancing new technology. Why spend a fortune for a negligible result when the money could be spent finding a new technology with more beneficial results?)

A critic calls him biased; for though he did not vote, he selected the participants, the subjects, and the authors of the briefing papers. Another or the same contributor to Wikipedia states that participant Schelling would have preferred another, less costly Global Warming proposal, which would have ranked it somewhat higher on the list. (Two mentions of Mr. Schelling in The Wall Street Journal over the past ten years give the critic credibility.) Another aspect of Global Warming ranked somewhat higher on the list, low-carbon energy technology, which was No. 14.

What was first on the priority list? Vitamin A and Zinc supplements; these would improve the health of 112 million children in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa , at a cost of $60 million a year. Together with salt iodization and de-worming--ranked No. 3 --they would help prevent blindness and promote growth, increasing lifetime productivity by some $1 billion.

Ranked No. 2 is the Doha trade round. It is hard to find an economist who does not believe in free trade. Trade liberalization and the fall of trade barriers enable people to have more money, which will decrease malnutrition and disease and improve education.

No. 3 is Iron supplements and salt-iodization. No. 4 is immunization. These, The Wall Street Journal points out, are issues that non-profit organizations can usefully undertake. It was the Rotary International that led the efforts to eradicate polio.

The current means for mitigating global warming is cap and trade, which, ultimately will severely reduces energy--that being its purpose--and turn back growth many decades. Cap and trade is essentially a “massive redistribution of income and wealth,” as one critic has called it.

The names of the 6th graders who may inherit this earth are unknown. The participating Nobel economists were Robert Mundell, Douglass C. North, Thomas C. Schelling, Vernon L. Smith and Robert Fogel; and the others were Jagdish Bhagwati, Bruno Frey, Justin Yifu Lin, and Nancy Stokey.

On Global Warming, two Senate committees listened with rapt attention to Al Gore, and disdained to listen to the next speaker, Bjorn Lomborg. They literally all together got up and walked out of the hearing room. We watched them on television.

Lomborg has made his mark. He keeps making it. Whether it will leave a mark on U.S. policy is dubious, enthusiasm for Global Warming being what it is.

By Natalie Sirkin
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