Dazzling Knowledge

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Discussion with Skeptical Environmentalist

An excerpt from an interview with Bjorn Lomborg:
TCS: Do you think that there are times when policy choices can actually do more harm than good? Are there any past examples of environmental policy that should give us pause?
LOMBORG: The use of DDT is probably the best example of this and its use in the third world was badly mismanaged. DDT is not dangerous to humans, but it is dangerous to some animals. So if you're in a rich country where you have malaria under control, clearly you should ban DDT or severely restrict its use.
But our concern about DDT in the early 70s basically meant that most of the developing world restricted their use as well. That was probably an immensely bad judgement because yes, it harms animals like birds, but it also saves human lives. These actions undoubtedly led to many millions of lives lost. So that is one example of where we need to be very careful about what we do.
But I think we are doing a little bit the same thing with climate change discussions right now. We have spent so much time over the last 10 years trying to do something about climate change. We have a treaty that will essentially do nothing whatsoever about climate change and it will still end up costing us quite a bit. And you've got to ask yourself, couldn't we have spent that amount of time and effort and consideration on addressing some of the issues in the world where we could have done an enormous amount of good?
So if we stand back, as Al Gore asks us to do, and look at it from the coming generation's point of view, they are going to ask 'what were they thinking?' They tried to do a tiny little bit about climate change at a fairly high cost, but have done very little good, whereas there are many other problems that they could have tackled that would have left a much better world behind.

Whole thing here.


Post a Comment

<< Home