Global health & global warming

My daughter Elizabeth had her “Sweet Sixteenth” birthday this past week. In lieu of a party and gifts, she asked that the money we would have spent be donated instead, to Partners in Health. I mention this not because it shows what a terrific human being Elizabeth is—well, not just for that reason—but because this exemplifies the kinds of efforts we need. Partners in Health was co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, subject of a 2003 Tracy Kidder book, Mountains Beyond Mountains. Its mission is to tackle health issues in poorer countries, with down-to-earth initiatives, such as disseminating bed nets to combat malaria. (Click HERE for the website.)

 

A lot of people are obsessed with global warming as the biggest challenge facing humanity. It’s not, by a long shot. Even under a worst case scenario, the negative human consequences of climate change will be utterly dwarfed by the continuance of our age-old nemeses of poverty, ignorance, malnutrition, lack of clean water, and their related health issues, like malaria. In the coming century, it’s a good bet that malaria and other diseases afflicting poor people will kill far more humans than global warming.

 

So the obsession about climate change is totally misplaced. In fact, it could actually make things worse. Global warming zealots want us to reverse economic growth in order to hold down temperature rises. That will aggravate problems of poverty. Moreover, poor people tend to have more children than richer ones, so more poverty will mean more population, adding to environmental pressures.

 

We’ll be far better off if we keep the economic growth motor humming, giving us the resources we will need to cope with inevitable climate change, and to make life better for not only the world’s poor, but all people everywhere.  

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Global health & global warming”

  1. Scott Perlman Says:

    There is a think tank in Denmark, The Copenhagen Consensus Center which publicizes the best ways for governments and philanthropists to spend aid and development money. The accept the concept that the world has limited resources to apply to all the problems. Consequently, we should force rank the problems with the concept of spending money and resources for the largest return. From their web site,

    “We create a framework in which solutions to the world’s big problems are prioritized explicitly, with the goal of achieving the most ‘good’ for people and the planet. We work with governments, NGOs and multilateral organizations on projects around the world.

    The idea is simple, yet often neglected; when financial resources are limited, it is necessary to prioritize the effort. Every day, policymakers and business leaders at all levels prioritize by investing in one project instead of another. However, instead of being based on facts, science, and calculations, many vital decisions are based on political motives or even the possibility of media coverage.

    The Copenhagen Consensus approach improves knowledge and gives an overview of research and facts within a given problem, which means that the prioritization is based on evidence.”

    I reported on their 2004 report, which was their first year. Climate change was very low, almost at the bottom, of the problems to which they would dedicate resources. They determined that there is little that can be done and it would cost a huge amount to have a slight impact. For example, it was determined that if $150 Billion was spent it would have a slight impact in 2100 (postpone it by 6 years) on global warming. The UN estimated that for half that amount, we could solve all the major problems in the world. Even if that is close to true, we could be saving the lives of the people that will come up with the most cost effective solution to climate change, if a solution is needed.

    This year’s number 1 problem is

    For more information on the Copenhagen Consensus take a look at their website http://copenhagenconsensus.com/Default.aspx?ID=788.

    There is also a great presentation on the TED website by their founder, Bjourn Lomborg at http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/62

  2. Scott Perlman Says:

    There is a think tank in Denmark, The Copenhagen Consensus Center which publicizes the best ways for governments and philanthropists to spend aid and development money. The accept the concept that the world has limited resources to apply to all the problems. Consequently, we should force rank the problems with the concept of spending money and resources for the largest return. From their web site,

    “We create a framework in which solutions to the world’s big problems are prioritized explicitly, with the goal of achieving the most ‘good’ for people and the planet. We work with governments, NGOs and multilateral organizations on projects around the world.

    The idea is simple, yet often neglected; when financial resources are limited, it is necessary to prioritize the effort. Every day, policymakers and business leaders at all levels prioritize by investing in one project instead of another. However, instead of being based on facts, science, and calculations, many vital decisions are based on political motives or even the possibility of media coverage.

    The Copenhagen Consensus approach improves knowledge and gives an overview of research and facts within a given problem, which means that the prioritization is based on evidence.”

    I reported on their 2004 report, which was their first year. Climate change was very low, almost at the bottom, of the problems to which they would dedicate resources. They determined that there is little that can be done and it would cost a huge amount to have a slight impact. For example, it was determined that if $150 Billion was spent it would have a slight impact in 2100 (postpone it by 6 years) on global warming. The UN estimated that for half that amount, we could solve all the major problems in the world. Even if that is close to true, we could be saving the lives of the people that will come up with the most cost effective solution to climate change, if a solution is needed.

    This year’s number 1 problem is Micronutrient supplements for children (vitamin A and zinc). The number 2 is The Doha development agenda. And the number 3 is Micronutrient fortification (iron and salt iodization). For the complete list go to
    http://copenhagenconsensus.com/Default.aspx?ID=953.

    For more information on the Copenhagen Consensus take a look at their website http://copenhagenconsensus.com/Default.aspx?ID=788.

    There is also a great presentation on the TED website by their founder, Bjourn Lomborg at http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/62

    FSR COMMENT: Scott, thank you very much for this excellent posting, which I endorse 110%.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s