Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If you look only at costs...things look pretty costly!

CNN reports on a new study put out by Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group which states that climate related disasters have killed over 800,000 people and caused over $1 trillion in economic losses. You know where this is going-- humans are causing global warming, global warming kills people, so every day that you drive a car you're relegating your future self to that much more purgatory. We've talked about this before.

The main issue I have with this study-- and with global warming alarmism in general-- is that it's looking only at the cost side of the situation. Look at the case studies the report provides-- hurricanes in Florida, droughts in Africa, rising sea levels in Samoa. (Talk about bad timing on that last one.) I'm not denying that these events and costs could have occurred as a result of an increase in global temperature-- it's not exactly a ceteris paribus analysis, but for the sake of argument, let's say that's the case. The problem is that the analysis (from my perusing of the report) completely ignores the benefits of temperatures rising. What if the case studies were as follows: Crop proliferation in Canada, arable land impact in Ukraine, days of sun for youth baseball players in America. Wouldn't the end result look different? It may still be negative on net-- if that's the result you need, there is so much leeway in doing a global cost/benefit analysis of climate change that you can generate just about any result you like-- but in any case, it would have to be less than the stated result simply because you're adding benefits to the costs-only calculation.

The actual report itself is here and the executive summary is here.

1 comment:

Jason O said...


Indeed, I understand and agree with your points on this matter. I like the sign at the end of the hall at my daughters' school. It reads "The Art of Sustainability." I find this to be the most truthful statement I have the privilege of reading anywhere about the topic of climate change.

thanks for your comments.