Instead of shaming people for eating hamburgers, let’s ramp up agricultural R&D.


Bjorn Lomborg

Die another day

Most people on the planet wake up each day thinking that things are getting worse. It is little wonder, given what they routinely read in the newspaper or see on television. But this gloomy mood is a problem, because it feeds into scare stories about how climate change will end in Armageddon.

The fact is that the world is mostly getting better. Average global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Health inequality has declined massively. People are more literate, child labor is decreasing, and we are living in one of the most peaceful times in history. We need to solve climate change, but we also need to make sure that the cure isn’t more painful than the disease.

Read Bjorn Lomborg's new column for Project Syndicate in five languages. The article was published by media outlets around the world, including The Globe and Mail (Canada), The Australian, Die Presse (Austria), New Europe (Belgium), Jakarta Post (Indonesia, print), Jordan Times and My Republica (Nepal).

Vegetarianism as climate virtue signaling

“Eat less meat” is the typical headline for a new United Nations special report on climate change. The report correctly points to the need to improve global food systems, but pundits are fixating on the supposed need for people in rich countries to radically change their dining habits. This is an ineffective and unachievable policy response.

As Lomborg argues in Wall Street Journal, rather than false hopes about dietary change, the focus should be on improving agricultural practices. First, organics are bad for sustainability. Making U.S. agricultural production entirely organic would require converting an area larger than California and Texas into farmland. Second, agricultural yields must increase. A new Green Revolution is needed to make agriculture even more efficient.

Family planning programs for India

India is in the midst of a major demographic transition, with hundreds of millions of people reaching working age. As the nation’s population continues to grow at a fast rate, family planning continues to be a priority. Now, new research for India Consensus presented by Bjorn Lomborg and the TATA Trust's Shireen Vakil in Deccan Herald reveals that focusing resources in this area is one of the most effective uses of funds.

The annual cost per person across the whole population is ₹36 ($0.50), because only 12% of women in the reproductive age has an unmet need for contraception. The benefits, though, can be very large. There are three ways that family planning helps society: it has a 'demographic dividend', it reduces infant mortality, and it reduces maternal mortality. Together, every rupee spent on family planning would create benefits to society worth some 32 rupees.

Climate policies need to be feasible for emerging economies

Rich countries subsidize renewable energy to the tune of $162 billion every year, yet the effect on global warming is virtually non-existent. More importantly, climate policy can only be successful if China, India, Brazil and other developing nations can afford cutting emissions, too. Even if all the rich countries in the world completely turned off carbon dioxide emissions, the difference by the end of the century would be about 0.4 degrees Celsius.

On Sky News Australia, Bjorn Lomborg argues that because cheap and reliable energy offers a way out of poverty, emerging economies won't implement similar policies as the West which are both expensive and ineffective. Only if we can innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels, we will be able to solve climate change.

Lomborg on social media:

The world is breaking its green energy R&D promise

The Amazon is not the "lungs of the earth"

No, climate change won't undo development

Negative income tax better than Universal Basic Income

Our sinking planet? Clickbait vs truth.

Wheat myth debunked

More global articles and interviews:

How should we talk about what’s happening to our planet?
The Washington Post

Interview on Canadian radio
The Roy Green Show

Verdient Greta Thunberg wirklich den Nobelpreis?
Die Welt (Germany)

Wie führe ich ein nachhaltiges Leben?
Die Weltwoche (Switzerland)

Die Ernährungsrendite
Börse Online (Germany)

Warum die FDP einen umstrittenen Klima-"Profi" zur Klausur einlud
Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (Germany)

Der er en enkel løsning på en af verdens største udfordringer
Berlingske (Denmark)

Vegetarisme er ikke den løsning for miljøet, som den påstås at være
Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)

Que no avergüence comer hamburguesas
La Tercera (Chile)

El electorado no vota por el cambio climático
Milenio (Mexico)

O desafio da nutrição
Jornal de Negocios (Portugal)

Pseudonaukowa histeria to nie jest dobra odpowiedź na klimatyczne wyzwania
Listy z naszego sadu (Poland)

About Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus 

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to improve the environment and the world, and has repeatedly been named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals.

He is the author of several best-selling books, an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School and works regularly with many of the world’s top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates.

His think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, was named Think Tank of the Year by Prospect Magazine, in US International Affairs. It has repeatedly been top-ranked by University of Pennsylvania in its global overview of think tanks.

Lomborg is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in 19 languages, in 30+ newspapers with more than 30 million readers globally.
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