Ghana's Vice President about the Ghana Priorities project: "We need to avoid arbitrary allocation of resources. Evidence-based choice-making is what is needed for sound sustainable resource allocation decisions.”


Bjorn Lomborg

Toning down climate fear to tackle all global priorities

It wasn’t that long ago when much of the global elite had conclusively decided that climate change was our world’s top priority. Then came a massive sideswiping by a global pandemic, along with an equally massive global recession. It serves as a timely reminder that an alarmism that cultivates one fear over others serves society poorly.

Global warming is a real challenge and a problem we need to tackle. But the alarmism makes it difficult for us to think smartly about climate solutions, and it swamps our attention away from the many other important global issues.

Lomborg's new column - based on his book False Alarm - was syndicated around the globe, with publications e.g. in China Daily, The Australian, The Globe and Mail (Canada), Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), Jakarta Post (Indonesia), The Punch (Nigeria), Milenio (Mexico), Perfil (Argentina), El Universo (Ecuador), La Tercera (Chile), Los Tiempos (Bolivia), La Prensa (Nicaragua), La Prensa Grafica (El Salvador) and El Heraldo (Honduras).

Lomborg also discussed the main arguments of False Alarm on multiple interviews, e.g. on Varney & Co on the FOX Business Channel or Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson.

The book The Times calls "important" and New York Times calls "dangerous"

Bjorn Lomborg's new book False Alarm has received much acclaim. The Times calls it "important," National Review says "his approach is undoubtedly the optimal one…If you buy only one book on climate change…this should be the book," and Forbes praises the book for being "meticulously researched, and well worth a read."

Unfortunately, alarmism has a strong following, and Joe Stiglitz promised the New York Times to give the book a bad review before he even saw it. He attacks Lomborg for relying on the work of the only climate economist to ever win the Nobel Prize and even seems to suggest that climate economics should only be addressed by left-leaning economists.

Lomborg meticulously debunks every major claim from the review as false or misleading. Stiglitz still doesn't seem to have read most of the book, claiming for instance that it fails to mention regulation as a climate solution, although the last third of the book is mostly dedicated to discussing such regulations.

In a separate comment on Stiglitz' review, economist Benjamin Zycher notes that "virtually every argument Stiglitz made is incorrect. Stiglitz’s review provides us with a distilled encapsulation of the determined avoidance of evidence, the weak arguments, and the mendacity that for decades have defined the climate alarmist camp."

In an op-ed published in newspapers across Southern California (e.g. Los Angeles Daily News), Lomborg argues that we need free and honest debate on climate change policy. Stiglitz on the other hand tells New York Times readers that they should stay clear of “mind pollution” that would endanger the politics of the Green New Deal. In a partisan world-view it makes sense to not want to have your readers see all the facts that could lead them to inconvenient conclusions.

In Lomborg's reply in the New York Times, he tries to find common ground with Stiglitz, writing that Stiglitz would probably agree with the main point of False Alarm: "Since many climate policies are inefficient, we should be careful to tackle climate change with smart and effective policies like a carbon tax, green innovation and adaptation."

Upon reviewing the controversy, Finnish newspaper Kauppalehti proclaims: "The climate consensus is dead. Long live the open debate!", Danish newspaper Weekendavisen says "Stiglitz has at most read the introduction" and "Lomborg really only says what the UN Climate Panel says." And the leading Dutch news magazine Elsevier Weekblad concludes: "Do read this book!"

Climate alarmism means more expensive and less effective policies

U.S. Democrats have joined a long list of prominent global politicians across the last decades who promise to fix global warming, outlined in a 538 page Congressional Action Plan. Among many other proposals, it promises no new gasoline cars by 2035, ending fossil fuels in the power sector by 2040, and reducing the net emissions from the U.S. to zero by 2050. Appropriately, House speaker Nancy Pelosi capped her presentation by promising the plan would be “saving the planet.” 

However, climate change is not an “existential threat,” and we need to weigh costs and benefits of climate action. Proposing unrealistic and extremely expensive policies is unhelpful. Lomborg argues in USA Today that Democrats are correct to emphasize we need climate policies, but the policies must be smart.

Ghana's VP welcomes data for policy prioritization

After more than a year of research, 28 teams of economists for the Ghana Priorities project presented their findings on policy proposals across all sectors of government to an eminent panel comprised of distinguished economists from Ghana as well as Nobel Laureate Finn Kydland.

In his address during the opening ceremony of the 4-day conference, Ghana's Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia pointed out that “the Ghana Priorities Project couldn’t have come at a better time. Especially in times like this, we need to avoid arbitrary allocation of resources. Evidence-based choice-making is what is needed for sound sustainable resource allocation decisions.” He concluded that the project’s data-driven approach to policy prioritisation will provide “a valuable platform for strengthening good governance and making informed public policy choices. We eagerly await the outcomes that emerge from this forum.”

Multiple media outlets all across the country have published dozens of articles on the Ghana Priorities project. The opening of the eminent panel conference was covered e.g. by Daily Graphic, Ghana News Agency and Daily Mail, Joy published an article on the smartest health targets, Daily Guide focused on initiatives strengthening the economy, GhanaWeb highlighted nutritional interventions, Business Ghana focused on smart solutions for the fishing sector, and Modern Ghana quoted Bjorn Lomborg with regard to Ghana's development progress.

The Eminent Panel's final ranking of policy priorities will be presented to the Vice President shortly.

Equal access to health care

Households living in poverty can experience catastrophic healthcare expenditures, live in less sanitary environments, and may lack the participatory power to change their community and health systems. The situation is most critical in the rural communities of Ghana's three northern regions, with only one doctor for every 20,000 people.

To improve access to health care, researchers for Ghana Priorities found that maintenance of the ambulance system and incentives for health care workers to move to remote areas could greatly benefit the rural population, with benefits at least 20-times greater than the cost of both initiatives.

Read a summary of their research in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

Transforming Ghana’s agricultural sector

Agriculture is a significant contributor to the Ghanaian economy, with over 40% of all workers engaged in farming. The country is gradually shifting away from this sector towards industry and services, but agriculture is still key for the economy, and a necessary vehicle for reducing poverty and food insecurity.

To improve the agricultural sector’s production efficiency and post-harvest management, a group of researchers for Ghana Priorities analyzed the cost and benefits of improved seeds and fertilizer, irrigation and mechanization to increase yields, and warehouses to reduce post-harvest losses.

Read a summary of their research in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

Sanitation for a cleaner and healthier future

Proper sanitation practices protect communities from diseases and maintain a clean and safe environment to promote the social, economic, and physical wellbeing of the population. In Ghana, liquid waste management has been largely neglected and remains an urgent issue with nationwide implications.

To target the urgent issue of correct sanitation practices, researchers for Ghana Priorities studied three interventions to improve liquid waste management: comprehensive treatment facilities, advanced stabilization ponds and resource recovery plants that convert waste into energy.

Read a summary of their research in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

For cleaner and healthier rural communities

Clean and healthy communities require proper sanitation, but one in every three people in the world still lacks access to a dignified sanitation service. Ghana has also struggled to improve sanitation coverage, and the situation remains challenging, especially in rural communities where private latrines are scarce.

To improve sanitation in rural communities, a group of researchers studied the impact of the main community sanitation intervention used in rural Ghana, the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) model.

The CLTS intervention passes a cost-benefit test both with and without a subsidy, showing that improved sanitation has an important effect on reducing disease and mortality. The initiative may also bring other non-health benefits, including a reduced risk of assault, increased dignity, and better privacy.

Read a summary of their research in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet

Breastfeeding is an essential factor in reducing child mortality, high level of wasting, stunting, underweight, high levels of anaemia among children. For World Breastfeeding Week, Bjorn Lomborg and Manorama Bakshi published an article in news outlets across India (e.g. Newsgram, New Kerala and Daji World) on the many benefits of breastfeeding.

Research for the project India Consensus has shown that mass media promotion and intensive counselling of breastfeeding is a cheap, yet very powerful intervention that can yield high social returns, with 8 rupees worth of benefits for every rupee invested. The article concludes:
"Seldom in life are the benefits of simple, cheap policies so obvious and clear-cut: the new evidence points unambiguously to massive benefits from prioritising closing gaps in nutrition interventions."

Lomborg on social media:

Biden's $2 trillion climate plan: The good, the bad, and the expensive

1.4 million more TB deaths from corona lockdown

Why California’s climate policies are causing electricity blackouts

New poll: climate ranks as the least important problem for Americans

“Smarter Climate Change Policy” talk at Hoover Institution’s Summer Policy Boot Camp

Prosperity protects wildlife

More articles and interviews:

Good Fellows: Chilling Out On Climate With Bjorn Lomborg
The Hoover Institution (USA)

Pandemic, climate change: Why is the sky always falling on our head?
The Times of India

The Hourglass Phenomena
Outlook (India)

Die Klima-Apokalypse wird wohl nicht ganz so düster. Dafür, und das vergessen wir gerne, droht uns anderes
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)

Bjørn Lomborg: »Det er absurd, når folk sidder i deres villahuse oppe i Nordsjælland og tænker, at det vigtigste, man kan gøre for verden, er at cykle til arbejde«
Politiken (Denmark)

Un éxito para la conservación: los osos polares no se están extinguiendo
Milenio (Mexico)

Atual combate às mudanças climáticas aumenta desigualdade e prejudica países mais pobres
Gazeta do Povo (Brazil)

About Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus 

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to do good in 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, Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 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 in International Affairs by Prospect Magazine. 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 dozens of newspapers across all continents.
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