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Global Warming 101: Costs
by William Yeatman
February 04, 2009 @ 7:21 am
Alarmists [read Climate Scientists] claim that rising temperatures threaten human welfare—but reducing emissions from energy production also threatens human welfare, especially in the developing world, since doing so limits economic growth. So what is worse, the warming or the policy?
The question we have to ask is, “What’s Worse? Climate change or climate policy?
In a Cato Institute study, Indur Goklany suggests that climate change is unlikely to be the world’s most important environmental problem during the 21st century, because a richer but warmer world is better for human welfare than a colder but poorer world would be.
The Cost of Global Warming
In his book Cool It, Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg applies a cost/benefit analysis to climate change mitigation measures like the Kyoto Protocol, and finds that they are a tragic waste of money. According to his research, we could spend a fraction of the cost of climate policies on immediate problems, like HIV or malaria, and save millions more lives than global warming would take.
Dr. William Nordhaus of Yale University estimates that 3°C of global warming would cost the world $22 trillion this century. Al Gore’s package of measures, which calls on the U.S. to “join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy Earth,” would reduce warming costs to $10 trillion, at a cost of $34 trillion.
Climate change might harm human welfare, but so would climate change policy. Policy makers should assess and weigh both sets of risks before deciding on a course of action.
Global Warming 101: Costs
That last sentence hides a false choice. Yes, we will pay more for energy. We will adapt to the new reality, that the days of ridiculously cheap energy are over (we've never paid the real cost of oil and coal, because the cost to clean up the mess it made was never factored into the price we paid). The absurd choice they offer is the survival of the planet vs survival of an extravagant way of life. Insane.