Lomborg down under

Bjorn Lomborg pushes his usual anti-Kyoto line in the Oz

will be extremely expensive and will have only a negligible effect. The global cost will be large: the estimates from all macro-economic models show a cost of $US150 billion ($224 billion) to $US350 billion every year. At the same time, the effect on extreme weather will be marginal: the climate models show that Kyoto will merely postpone the temperature rise by six years from 2100 to 2106. Most global warming problems will occur in the Third World, yet these countries have many other, more serious, problems with which to contend. For the cost of Kyoto, in 2010, we could permanently solve the biggest problem in the world รถ we could permanently provide clean drinking water and sanitation for every person in the world. Should we not deal with the most pressing problems for real people first?

What Lomborg doesn’t say here is that these scary estimates refer only to the case when Kyoto is implemented without emissions trading. With emissions trading, the net cost to the world would be much smaller, but Lomborg says this is politically infeasible because it would require big transfers from rich to poor countries.

In other words, we can’t implement Kyoto efficiently because we would have to give lots of money to poor countries and that’s politically impossible. But, as an alternative to implementing inefficiently we should give lots of money to poor countries.

I’ve pointed out this contradiction ad nauseam, but consistency is not a major issue for Lomborg or for his right-wing employers (the nastiest government in recent Danish history) and promoters.

Conference presentation

I’ll be presenting twice at the Economists’ conference today. First, in the morning on “Higher Education: The Last Nationalised Industry?” and then in the afternoon on “Discounting and sustainable management of the Murray-Darling system”. After that I’ll be heading back to Brisbane, stopping along the way at Dubbo zoo and the Parkes radiotelescope. Normal blogging should resume next week.

I plan to post copies of my presentations on my website next week, and to have full papers a bit later.

Monday Message Board

As another Monday rolls around, I’m in Canberra for the Economists’ Conference. So, I’m suggesting the starter question for this week’s Message Board. What are the big (unanswered or unasked) questions in economics. Feel free to offer comments on the state of other social sciences or, as always, on any topic that takes your fancy (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please).

Parallel universes

According to today’s Oz editorial,

Perhaps journalists at the ABC and Fairfax newspapers are trapped in a parallel universe where they receive and then report information that seems distorted from what the rest of us hear. This is the most charitable explanation of the reporting of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s speech to the General Assembly during the week. According to one report, Mr Annan “attacked American foreign policy, warning it could stoke terrorism and global chaos”.

Perhaps it’s the same parallel universe as that inhabited by the Voice of America whose story on the same speech was headlined “Annan Condemns Unilateral Military Action”.


I’m writing this in the aftermath of a brief snowstorm, surprising since other parts of NSW have been experiencing record heat. It’s come at the wrong end of my visit to the Snowy Mountains, which has mainly been characterized by wind and rain – not good weather for skiing. Still, it’s very pleasant to look at if you’re inside with a fire. I’m staying at Lake Eucumbene, which is well below the normal snowline. This means that the snow usually melts pretty fast. On the other hand, you get to see things you wouldn’t expect higher up, like the kangaroos coming out from the shelter of the trees and nuzzling through the snow to eat the grass beneath.