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Author Says Redirect Resources Against Climate Change

Danish author and statistician Bjorn Lomborg discusses his proposal to redirect resources from a general fight against carbon emissions to specific efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change in vulnerable areas.

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    After two major reports this year detailed the problems and impact of global warming, there's growing attention to the question of what countries can do to slow climate change.

    Tonight's guest looks at how we could adapt to a changing planet to blunt the impact of warming. He's Bjorn Lomborg, author of the upcoming book "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming" and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. He joins us from Copenhagen this evening.

    And, Professor, you've called spending several hundred billion dollars a year to combat global warming a bad deal for the people of the planet. How would you spend the money differently?

  • BJORN LOMBORG, Director, Copenhagen Consensus Center:

    Well, basically, Ray, the point is to say, we don't care particularly about climate change, per se. We care about, what are its impacts? We care about the people who are going to get more risk in flooding, the people who are going to get more exposed to malaria, the people who are going to die more because of heat waves. And those are the people we actually want to help.

    So the question is: Can we do better? And my argument is simply, if you look, for instance, at the Kyoto Protocol, even if everybody did the Kyoto Protocol, including the U.S., it would have very little impact. It would basically postpone global warming by about five years at the end of the century, at a cost, as you mentioned, of about $180 billion a year.

    Now, if you look at some of the other things, you could do great good in the world. You could actually do amazing amounts of good to many of the people who are going to get hardest hit by climate change through focusing on HIV-AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, free trade, agricultural research.

    And that's actually what we've done at the Copenhagen Consensus Center, where we have some of the world's top economists, including four Nobel laureates. Look at all the great things you can do in the world, and they put all of those things I just mentioned up at the very top of where you can do the most bang for the buck. And they said, climate change, through Kyoto Protocol, is actually a bad investment. Simply for every dollar you invest, you only end up doing about 30 cents worth of good.