Thursday, June 03, 2004

Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus conference has produced a list of 17 prioritized projects addressing worldwide environmental, societal and human needs. Sort of a "to do list" for the species. Upon examination, one thing this isn't is an ecological action list. Other species are only mentioned as they directly impact human needs - specifically, the proposal for amelioration of the resurgent malarial problem, and various agricultural projects associated with water and land usage. The ecologically religious will see this, and go blind with rage. This isn't a crusade to save the world - the authors are more interested in saving humanity. Being human myself, I have to say that *I* approve, but there are folks out there who have, at some point in their intellectual and emotional development, resigned their genetic commission, and have no interest in the continuance of the species as a whole.

The Consensus usage of cost-benefit analysis, based on the assumption of a spare $50 billion available for the various projects, is bound to enrage those who cannot abide economic thinking. Again, this is a not-inconsiderable population within the ecological community. For the politically-minded, the authors' decision to disregard political costs, holding solely to economic cost-benefit analysis, is clearly a problem. They have chosen to make recommendations as if political questions were nonexistent, and one would expect to find high prioritization of such hot-button matters such as Kyoto. One would be incorrect. The only true high-priority project recommended which represents a truly dangerous political prospect is trade liberalization, which is currently tied up in the faltering Doha round of WTO talks. They propose liberalized emigration/immigration policies for skilled workers ahead of unskilled workers, and place the Kyoto Protocols second-to-last, with the various carbon tax proposals.

The most surprising recommendation is the highest priority placed on the AIDS/HIV project, recommending a near-doubling of the current investments to $27 Billion. Their cost-benefit analysis seems to drive this recommendation, in the belief that the ongoing epidemic is causing economic losses - health-care costs, labor-pool damage, demographic losses, human capital - far in excess of the costs of addressing the problem comprehensively and categorically.

Particularly interesting is the notice towards the end of the list that they were doubtful of various educational projects that were proposed, noting that it is too easy to waste vast resources on unproductive educational initiatives. Interesting.

Via the Instapundit, but of course.

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