A note from Stu – A couple of years ago I wrote a column in Fusion magazine about global warming and spoke of its effects on polar bears. In the column, I praised “Bjorn Lomborg’s irreplaceable book Cool It (something that you should own if you care about this topic at all. It’s that good.)”
Luckily, starting today, you don’t have to do all that pesky reading stuff. In theaters starting this weekend is Cool It, a new documentary about Lomborg and his too-sensible-to-be-included-in-the-debate ideas. Honestly, Lomborg is one of the only truly interesting characters in the entire global warming discussion right now. Why? He doesn’t fall for the catastrophe, and yet he also doesn’t argue the science at all. This is incredibly frustrating to the left (and to many on the right as well). Bjorn takes the science that the U.N. reports at face value, and then shows how the “solutions” we’ve been pitched by Al Gore and the like, still make no sense whatsoever.
I was able to see a preview of the movie and it is well worth your time. Just the 10 minute period where he picks apart four global warming claims (such as sea-level rise, and malaria) are worth double the price of admission. The following is an op-ed from Bjorn Lomborg, exclusive to glennbeck.com.
By Bjorn Lomborg
See the trailer: Cool It
Why is it that after nearly 20 years of campaigning for drastic cuts in carbon emissions, Al Gore and his fellow climate activists have basically gotten nowhere?
The answer isn’t that global warming is a hoax. Even though it’s not the end of the world, as many activists claim, climate change is real and we need to do something about it. But that something isn’t the draconian program of carbon cuts that Gore & Co. have been pushing. The fact is that Gore’s “solution” is more expensive than the problem it’s meant to solve—which is to say that it’s no solution at all.
In a 2009 paper for the Copenhagen Consensus Center, the think tank that I head, climate economist Richard Tol determined that in order to cut carbon emissions enough to keep global warming in check, we would have to tax carbon-emitting fuels by as much as $4,000 per ton of carbon dioxide—or $35 per gallon of gas—by the end of the century. You can imagine what this would do to the economy. According to the leading economic energy models, by 2100 a tax like this would be reducing global economic output by the equivalent of $40 trillion a year.
Now making climate predictions is an inexact science, but the best estimates are that if we don’t do anything about global warming, by 2100 it will be doing roughly $3 trillion a year in damage to the world.
In other words, under the approach Gore suggests, we’d be spending $40 trillion a year in order to prevent $3 trillion a year in environmental damage.
Clearly, this doesn’t make sense. But neither does it make sense to allow climate change to continue unchecked. The question is whether we can find a cure that isn’t worse than the disease.
I think we can. What if, instead of trying to make carbon-emitting fuels too expensive to use, we devoted ourselves to making green energy cheaper?
Right now, solar panels are so expensive—about 10 times as much as fossil fuels in terms of cost per unit of energy output—that only rich people can afford to install them (and usually only if they get tax breaks). But think where we’d be if we could make solar cells ten times cheaper—in other words, cheaper than fossil fuels. We wouldn’t have to force (or subsidize) anyone to stop burning coal and oil. Everyone would shift to the cheaper and cleaner alternatives.
This is why I—along with a panel of leading economists (including three Nobel laureates) convened by the Copenhagen Consensus Center—have urged policymakers to significantly increase the amount of money we invest in green energy R&D. As the Breakthrough Institute has pointed out, we didn’t promote the invention of computers by taxing slide rules or restricting the supply of typewriters. We did it by investing massively in R&D.
In fact, devoting just 0.2 percent of global economic output – roughly $100 billion a year – to green energy R&D would produce the kind of game-changing breakthroughs needed to fuel a carbon-free future. Not only would this be a much less expensive fix than trying to cut carbon emissions, it would also reduce global warming far more quickly.
This, in a nutshell, is the message of the new documentary about me and my work that opens nationwide on Friday, Nov. 12. The film is called “Cool It” and, yes, the title is meant to be clever. The idea is simple: instead of claiming that the sky is falling—and using that as an excuse to subsidize inefficient technologies and make fossil fuels too expensive to use—we should just calm down and fund the basic research that will make green energy too cheap and easy to resist.
Bjorn Lomborg is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School. “Cool It,” a feature-length documentary about him and his work, opens in theaters throughout North America on November 12.