Sunday, October 7, 2007

Conservatives: Global Warming Too Expensive to Fight (Iraq War Apparently Affordable)

Continuing its tradition of donating prime editorial space to deniers of reality, the Washington Post today runs an editorial from Bjorn Lomborg, a longtime global warming muddler:

Environmental groups say that the only way to deal with the effects of global warming is to make drastic cuts in carbon emissions -- a project that will cost the world trillions (the Kyoto Protocol alone would cost $180 billion annually).
I'm sure we could go back and forth about the true cost, but let's assume Lomborg is right and conforming to Kyoto would cost the world $180 billion a year. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

But let's put it into context. $180 billion is just 6% of the annual budget of the United States federal government. The United States has spent $454 billion in just the last four years fighting the Iraq War. We couldn't afford our share of $180 billion to stop global warming?

The "it'll be too expensive and it's too late anyway" argument is a recurring one from conservatives these days. A recent op-ed in Foreign Policy from two former Bush administration officials. But as a friend who's a climate scientist points out, they don't carry much credibility:

What is galling about this article is that the two authors worked for the chief climate negotiator at the State Department during a time when the US was actively stalling the international negotiations on climate change. Their work directly contributed to the predicament we're in now!
My favorite part of researching this post came from Lomborg's Wikipedia entry. The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty had declared Lomborg's "book to be scientifically dishonest, but Lomborg himself not guilty because of lack of expertise in the fields in question."

Ouch. Not guilty by reason of stupidity. It reminds me of an old Bloom County strip in which a judge finds Steve Dallas not guilty of computer piracy because, "I don't think you're capable of successfully picking your nose, never mind hacking a computer."
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