A Time for Clarity

A roundtable of international economists, including five Nobel Laureates, will convene in May to assess more than 50 solutions to different global challenges as part of the “Copenhagen Consensus” project. We will then discover what could happen if politicians would rise above the distortion of the media’s intense concentration on terrorism and climate change.

JOHANNESBURG – Terrorism and global warming loom, in many people’s minds, as the greatest threats to the planet. In the United States, the Bush administration wants to increase funding for border security and immigration enforcement by nearly 20%. More than $150 million is being spent to help transit systems in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.

But international terrorism kills about 400 people in total each year. How much should we be willing to pay to reduce that death toll by, say, 25% – a billion dollars, a hundred billion?

Meanwhile, in Hawaii, policymakers gathered to discuss a climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The environmental lobby groups want the next treaty to go much further than Kyoto, which is already setting the world back $180 billion a year. Indeed, efforts to slow global warming through the Kyoto Protocol or a similar treaty will make a miniscule difference, delaying temperature rises by just seven days by 2100.

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