Thursday, August 07, 2008

Global warming not world's biggest problem

Bjorn Lomborg, the Skeptical Environmentalist, head of the Copenhagen Consensus and voted by the UK newspaper in 2008 "The Guardian" to be one of the 50 people who could save the planet, brought together eight of the world's top economists, including five Nobel laureates, to rank the problems humanity faces and which ones, if combated, would create the most good today and in the future.

Unsurprisingly, global warming's first appearance on this list comes in at 14th place, well after vitamins for children and international trade reform. That's because combating global warming costs more than the benefits received - 90 cents of benefit for every dollar spent, according to Mr. Lomborg.

Providing micronutrients for 80% of the 140 million children who lack essential vitamins in the form of vitamin A capsules and a course of zinc supplements would cost just $60 million per year, according to the analysis. More importantly, this action holds yearly benefits of more than $1 billion.

In effect, this means that each dollar spent on this program creates benefits (in the form of better health, fewer deaths, increased future earnings, etc.) worth more than 17 dollars. Seems like a good investment. Let's hope our policymakers start broadening their research so we are not left worse off down the road.

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