Celebrate 50 years of environmental progress.


Bjorn Lomborg

Corona lockdowns terrible for poorer countries

Copenhagen Consensus produced the world's first cost-benefit analyses of COVID-19 policies for the African countries Ghana and Malawi.
Here are the benefits and costs for Malawi, in a report done together with the National Planning Commission and the African Institute for Development Policy:

Moderate social distancing will save about 7,000 more lives in total. But school closures will reduce learning and lead to long-term lower productivity, while the economy will be hit harder. The total cost will be $12 billion or two years of GDP. In total, each dollar spent will achieve 4¢ of social benefits.
For reference, other policies in Malawi could save 7,000 people for less than $3 million — at 4,000 times lower cost.

We find a similar result in a new report for the much richer Ghana. Here, the total cost will reach $50 billion, and each dollar in cost will produce just 5¢ of benefits. For comparison, Ghana could save more lives through tuberculosis policies for just $9 million — 5,000 times cheaper.

Our research was highlighted by The Economist in its main story explaining why rich-country style lockdowns are unsustainable in many poor countries.

Earth Day at 50: a surprising success story

50 years ago, the modern environmentalist movement was born with the first Earth Day. We should celebrate the amazing progress humanity has made on many environmental indicators. Yet, many Westerners are surprised to hear that the ­environment is improving.

This surprise owes to an unfortunate flip side of the Earth Day legacy, which too often can ­focus on doom and gloom, making us despondent and driving poor policies.

Despite the amazing progress, both indoor and outdoor air pollution still kill 8 million people annually. At least 2 billion people still use drinking water sources contaminated by feces. So, for the next 50 years, we still have our work cut out for us.
Lomborg argues in his new column that we need to curb the exaggerations, to make sure we actually leave the environment in the best possible state. The article has been published by prominent newspapers around the globe, including New York Post, Globe and Mail (Canada), The Australian, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (Germany, print only), Berlingske (Denmark), Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), Philippine Daily Inquirer, Milenio (Mexico), La Prensa (Nicaragua), City A.M. (United Kingdom), Jakarta Post (Indonesia), Listin Diario (Dominican Republic) and Phnom Pen Post (Cambodia).

Some cures are more expensive than the disease

Bjorn Lomborg has published a new academic paper on climate change: "Welfare in the 21st century: Increasing development, reducing inequality, the impact of climate change, and the cost of climate policies" for the peer-reviewed journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change (and free download here).
It shows that common portrayals of devastation from climate change are unfounded. Scenarios set out under the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) show per person human welfare will likely increase to 450% of today's welfare over the 21st century. Climate damages will reduce this welfare increase to 434%.

Climate-economic research shows that the total cost from unmitigated climate change is negative but moderate, likely equivalent to a 3.6% reduction in total GDP. Climate policies can help reduce these costs, but many of them have significant costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits.

Sweden's corona response is long-term sustainable

Sweden's response to the corona pandemic has been lauded by the World Health Organization as a model for the world. Lomborg explains on FOX News' Tucker Carlson Tonight and Fox Business' Making Money that Sweden has done the scientifically correct thing by flattening the curve, and they managed to do so smartly by putting moderate social distancing measures in place but not locking down entirely. In contrast, countries that have imposed strict lockdowns are just pushing the problem in front of them, as these lockdowns are not sustainable in the long run.

On the Adam Carolla Show, Lomborg discusses why corona policies will do more harm than good in many developing countries, and that there are much more effective ways to save lives.

Preorders are now open for Bjorn Lomborg's new book

False Alarm -  How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.

False Alarm will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong -- and points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all. Preorder now here.

Better health through improved sanitation

Around 2.5 billion people lack access to dignified sanitation services. In Ghana, coverage is abysmally low. Only 22% of the urban population have improved, non-shared facilities with shared toilets the most common service option in cities. This is a major health issue which also causes a loss of productivity.

To find effective solutions to Ghana’s urban sanitation problem, researchers for Ghana Priorities have studied interventions that provide toilet subsidies for urban households. Every cedi spent would yield benefits worth between 4 and 5 cedis, depending on how strictly sanitation by-laws are enforced.

Learn more in Bjorn Lomborg's op-ed for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

The best actions to empower girls and reduce poverty

In Ghana, 27% of girls are married before reaching the legal age. Child marriage has a physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impact, from teenage pregnancies and their complications to keeping girls from finishing school.

New research for Ghana Priorities suggests that organising community dialogues to educate and sensitise on the negative impacts of child marriage is the most cost-effective policy option in the fight against child marriage, with every cedi spent yielding almost 4 cedis in benefits.

Policies that aim at reducing the economic pressure on households through conditional asset transfers and the provision of an additional free school uniform can also have considerable impact on girls’ school retention, with every cedi spent yielding almost 3 cedis in benefits.

Read more in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Daily Graphic.

Investments in mental health for far-reaching benefits

Mental health problems are a major contributor to the disease burden across the world. In Ghana, the treatment gap is estimated to be over 98%. Many people do not receive evidence-based care, which leads to chronicity, suffering and substantial costs in the form of lost productivity.

Researchers for Ghana Priorities calculated the costs and benefits of screening approximately 980,000 people to detect cases of depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, as well as the costs and benefits of their treatment. They found screening and treatment for depression to be the most cost-effective. Every cedi spent would yield seven cedis in social and economic benefits.

Read more in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Daily Graphic.

Sustainable future for Ghana's fishing sector

Fishing makes a substantial contribution to Ghana’s economy and employment, sustaining the livelihoods of at least 3 million people. However, the marine fish stock in Ghana is biologically over-exploited and at risk of collapsing. Ghana’s fishing sector requires urgent solutions in order to avoid ecological collapse and guarantee a sustainable income to the artisanal fishers and the entire value chain.

Researchers for Ghana Priorities analyzed three policy solutions: replacing illegal fishing nets (every cedi spent will yield 5 cedis worth of benefits), limiting the number of boats while providing training and subsidies for fish farming (benefit-cost ratio of 1.2), and installing video devices in trawl vessels to monitor harmful illegal activities (BCR: 21).

Read more in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Daily Graphic.

Hypertension – Ghana’s disease of the future?

The number of Ghanaians suffering from hypertension increases rapidly. Researchers for Ghana Priorities found that every cedi spent on screening people for hypertension and other cardiovascular disease risk factors would yield more than 3 cedis in social and economic benefits.

Still, Ghana’s current health challenges skew heavily towards causes that have benefit-cost ratios many times higher, as analyses for Ghana Priorities have shown. Each cedi spent on tuberculosis treatment yields up to 190 cedis in benefits to society, or 134 cedis in the case of malaria.

Clearly, most scarce resources should first be prioritized on these policies that will help the most people most effectively.

Read more in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Daily Graphic.

Lomborg on social media:

School closures have done little to reduce corona, and for 5-10th grade possibly caused *more* corona

The harder the corona lockdown, the higher the economic costs

"If we don't have food in our stomach, what's the use of observing this lockdown?"

Economists are trained to think in terms of trade-offs, even for something as valuable and fragile as human life

Good news: Children possibly less likely to transmit corona

COVID-19 dominates news and sucks out a lot of the oxygen for climate

More articles and interviews:

Fortify and the Wellbeing Foundation Africa Announce Strategic Partnership to Reduce Iron Deficiency and Improve Maternal Survival in West Africa
Business Wire

’Dit is de belangrijkste klimaatles uit de lockdown’
De Telegraaf (Netherlands)
Fortify, WBFA join forces against iron deficiency

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/05/toyin-saraki-extolled-as-fortify-wbfa-join-forces-against-iron-deficiency/
Fortify, WBFA join forces against iron deficiency

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/05/toyin-saraki-extolled-as-fortify-wbfa-join-forces-against-iron-deficiency/

Cómo salvar vidas y evitar el colapso económico
Perfil (Argentina)

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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