Thursday, November 27, 2014

Global Warning

Bjorn Lomborg

Should addressing climate change be the leading global priority? Can economic growth and environmental protection be reconciled? Who should pay the costs of pollution: Consumers? Big business? Government? Can we really feed the world on organically grown food?

What to do about the environment, particularly global warming, is the most incendiary issue of our time. Scientists, economists, politicians – indeed anyone interested in the future of the planet – have joined the fray.

Environmental debates are charged by the belief on one side that life is under threat, and the conviction on the other that doomsayers are conspiring to spend taxpayers’ money on a phantom. The debates are also inflamed by a moral angle: the sense, at the heart of the environmental movement, that individual selfishness will lead us to a new apocalypse.

Environmental ignorance and fear have spawned both a new politics and a new industry. Governments, international bureaucracies, and universities employ thousands of people to figure out what is going on, while big corporations now have high-level teams of advisers to find out what scientists think and what politicians are planning to do.

Although environmental science remains uncertain, debates about it need not be incoherent. That is why Project Syndicate asked Bjørn Lomborg, a man Time magazine calls "one of the seminal thinkers of our time," to make sense of the basic political, economic, and moral questions that surround the problem of environmental sustainability.

Bjørn Lomborg is the founder of the Copenhagen Consensus, which has put the best analytical principles and minds to work on environmental problems. His monthly series, Global Warning, provided exclusively by Project Syndicate to its member papers, breaks through the cant and confusion to discover what our priorities should be, and how we should address them.

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