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Bjorn Lomborg sets global priorities

This link popped up on another forum site:
http://www.ted.com/talks/bjorn_lomborg_sets_global_priorities.html
He is logical reasonable and appears to make sense.
The trouble is that I think he has either lost touch with the real world or he is simply having a go.
He neglects that the very sane approach to decision making he proposes with its logical triage of global problems is completely counter to the way governments make decisions and more especially counter to the way the UN makes policy.
On his list of 10 climate change (he said nothing about whether it is true or not or AGW) comes bottom of the priorities and AIDs at the top.

I think we can understand why.
We also ought to remind ourseleves that the way anarchists destroy things is by adopting the Archimedes principal... "Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world". Marxists found the place to stand was in the labour party constituency committees. Greenies et al know it is the NGOs at the UN.
Their priorities are axiomatically not what Bjorn's are.

Of course, I am not that sure that I wan a world where economists make decisions. I like that they can value things but not that they should decide, that has been the ruin of many a company let alone society.

Re: Bjorn Lomborg sets global priorities

That link for the talk by Lomborg is from Feb 2005 and there was an attempt in 2005 to go in the sort of direction he was promoting through the "Make Poverty History" campaign (I think it was called "The One" campaign in the USA). The centrepiece of Make Poverty History was the Live 8 pop concerts intended to influence the G8 conference held that year in Scotland. The idea was to increase African aid by the G8 nations and conceivably that would translate into reducing the death rate due to AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, etc. As I remember it the Greenies were somewhat disgruntled at the time that Bob Geldof had taken attention away from global warming.

The thing that sums up for me why I think Lomborg is wasting his time in thinking that this prioritisation of world problems he is suggesting can be achieved is that virtually nobody has heard of somebody called Norman Borlaug.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jul/18/he-saved-a-billion-lives/

Borlaug developed high-yield disease-resistant wheat and some people credit him with saving a billion people from starvation.

Re: Bjorn Lomborg sets global priorities

A good link and one that surely demonstrates that significant changes can be wrought at relatively low costs.
The 2008 Conference in Copenhagen returned to the list of 10 and expanded it, or rather, it broke ups some major categories into a number of sub headings.
http://www.reason.com/news/show/126753.html
http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/Default.aspx?ID=953
Top of the list is now micro-nutrients. and the closest to the top for a climate action is R&D in low carbon technologies at 14, two other climate related topics are now at 29 and 30 in the list of 30.
We still face the situation that this is not how politicians think.

Re: Bjorn Lomborg sets global priorities

There is one characteristic of the way politicians think that I think keeps global warming at the top of their world problem priority order. In my view politicians are very susceptible to the idea of the 'precautionary principle', much more so than the general public are, and this is a major factor in their tendency to go along with the whole AGW malarkey with virtually no dissent.

A few months ago I was watching the politics Tv programme 'This Week' and some commentator presented an argument that global warming was gong to be overtaken by the global recession as being the world's next major concern. He argued that the world had a sort of physical need for some global problem to worry about, and when the cold war ended global warming just took its place. Ming Campbell, the former LibDem leader, was on the programme and he disagreed saying that global warming would always remain a major concern because of the precautionary principle.

The precautionary principle is most often associated with Greenies but in my view they aren't really true believers in it, they only advocate caution when it happens to go in the direction they want. Greenpeace's trademark is to carry out daredevil stunts, usually involving climbing up something, and they wouldn't be doing that if they seriously believed in being cautious. The biggest application area for the precautionary principle is actually in military conflicts. The invasion of Iraq is an example of the precautionary principle - Saddam Hussein could theoretically have had weapons of mass destruction and be very good at hiding them (maybe in a network of underground tunnels or something) and the only way to be completely sure in eliminating the 'threat' would be to invade Iraq. [The classic example of the precautionary principle being used in military conflict was the Vietnam War - the idea behind the war was that Vietnam could not be allowed to fall to the communists otherwise neighbouring countries would be next - the 'domino theory'.] A majority of British MPs seem to be true believers in the precautionary principle, they actually can believe that global warming is happening and will be disastrous and that Saddam Hussein had WMD that could be deployed in 45 minutes.

So the tendency for politicians to be keen on the precautionary principle might be the key to moving global warming down their priority list. Find another potentially disastrous global scare for them to worry about. The asteroid impact scare from the 1990s might be a good one to revive.

Re: Bjorn Lomborg sets global priorities

In general the precautionary principle is useful in tactical situations not strategic.

I disagree with the Iraq analogy though. The precautionary principle may have been part of the reasoning for the war. The part used to convince the world it was necessary. The real problem was repeated line drawing.

[UN] - Don't Cross this line...

[Saddam] - [Crosses line]

[UN] - Well .... Don't Cross this line..

[Saddam] - [Crosses line]

repeat for 12 years.

Re: Bjorn Lomborg sets global priorities

I'm thinking mainly from a British viewpoint in using the Iraq invasion as an example of use of the precautionary principle. In the US I've no doubt that Saddam's defiant, uncooperative behaviour over 12 years following the Gulf War was a big factor in the decision to invade. I think another big factor would be the fact that the US had to station thousands of troops in Saudi Arabia for 12 years because of the possiblity of Saddam invading Saudi Arabia. Islamic groups used the US troops to claim Saudi Arabia was a client state of the US, and the US troop presence was supposedly the main reason why virtually all the 9/11 participants were from Saudi Arabia.

But in the UK it was all about whether Saddam had WMD as to whether British troops were committed to the invasion. 412 British MPs voted in favour of invasion, 149 against. When it later became apparent that Saddam didn't have WMD the political class tried to protect itself by calling for public inquiries. There's been two of them so far and another one is on the way.

Re: Bjorn Lomborg sets global priorities

They also listed these as the reasons for going to war here in the states.

I was basically trying to point out that the reasons used to convince the populace aren't always the same as the fundamental reason.

Say "Yah, we fubarred that one for the last twelve years. We failed to apply basic parenting standards to foreign policy and as a result we have to really exert force now. OOps, sorry!"

That doesn't work so well.

Unfortunately we can't change the past, so we have to make decisions based on the mistakes of our forbears.

It would be nice to say "****, if only those idiots at Versaille had been a little more rational, we wouldn't be here today!"