Thursday, December 01, 2005

On global warming

Environmentalists might hate me for this. I agree with DeLong and Lomborg. The world has spent too much on the global warming issue. The benefits are so far, miniscule -- even the expected ones. We could've devoted the resources more on combating AIDS, malaria, and other deadly epidemics.
After all, life is about choice. Choose wisely.


  1. Forgive me for "lacking" in english speaking capabilities. Anyway, regarding the Global Warming issue especially related with Kyoto Protocol, I totally agree with you as well. The meeting and all the agreement seems spurious lead no effect at all for the poor countries (since the poor one always have to surrender - mean have no power at all - to the "Kyoto" market mechanism, if apply somehow). I mean, even in environmental conservation issue, the gap between rich and poor definitely obvious. However, as I still learning as an environmentalist, I believe that the issue of environmental degradation in more specific aspect (not just global one. Global for the rich?) should started to be considered by the poor one. Why? With respect to short term benefit we gain, I believe we also expect long term benefit for future generation. I have no concrete idea on this recently, but this concern really matter if we see that so many environmental problem occur in Tanah Air due to intertemporal cost-benefit analysis being ignored. Maybe Aco can give me more highlight on this related issues. Thanks.

  2. Kyoto Protocol is a binding contract of developed countries to reduce their emission by a given period with penalty if they don't deliver. the contract is a commitment to change consumption behavior (more sustain pattern) and also to diversified energy to a more green-er source of energy -or phrase it as "a change of the world choice of energy"- (commitments inspired by the 1992 Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro).

    Lombarg himself mention that "Global warming will mainly harm developing countries, because they are poorer and therefore less able to handle climate changes.", for that, the Protocol is also about fairness. Developed countries build its wealth under the unsustain living/consumption/development/progress, so it's fair that they will be making the effort (which we the developing countries are most vunerable of.

    How it effects developing countries?

    One example how "think globally and act locally" also applies in the context of the Protocol. Change of energy source would not only reduce GHG, but also local pollutant. Vunerable to it are: bus drivers, street vendors, the nation-wide-low/middle-class that uses public transport and are constantly on the street.

    (another impact) with CDM (a flexible mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, to help developed countries achieve their target bu investing in developing countries), it has created incentive for R&D locally and even transfer of technology/expertise (i.e. electricity from rice husk, agro-processing unit to increase the added value of agriculture and marine products from a combination of wind, solar and biomass power. These sources of energy is appropriate for Indonesia, a country of islands with its sea, mountains, forest. Putting up grids from one area to another with sea or mountain in the middle, would be costly. So this would be a good alternative. The impact, availability of energy,... provides employment, increase the quality of human resources.)

    my point is ... there are a lot of development issues related (as environment is a development issue), however maybe the "bureaucracy of this world wide agreement" is all good and efficient has given it a bad name, but when has bureaucracy (and its pal politics) been .... (can't find the word)?

  3. ehm, my sister is sooo knowledgeable nggak seh...

    but also remember, there are suspicions that climate change is one of the cause of the current run of diseases. e.g., malaria is now found in places where previously it does not exist (i.e many places become more hospitable to parasites since higher average temperature, shorter winters, receding coastline, etc). the entire earth ecosystem is linked, we only have been able to quantify the known/understood impacts of climate change, when the entire linkage is not known. so how implementing some precautionary principle?

  4. Thank you for great comments, Dewa, Za, and Fantarara (of course you are sisters!).

    Dewa, it is exactly the cost-benefit analysis we use to prove how exaggerating we are on taking the global warming issue. Of course, global warming has effects. And, as usual, effects can go both ways: positive or negative. Hence the cost-benefit analysis. But we shouldn't measure only those seen or clearly related. We should measure the net cost (or net benefit, for that matter) of global warming against the costs and benefits of malaria, AIDS, hunger, etc. Things would be easier if we've got lots of money. We don't.

    Za, however, raised a good point with regards to the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, if there is one thing I like from the Protocol, it's the fact that it uses a market approach to "allocate" the pollution worldwide -- and hopefully to reduce it or at least to halt the growth. I'm an environmental economist (for lack of better term) and I realize that some regulations are needed in favor of the environment. But I always think that market approach is superior to standards or any command-and-control program. I have written a literature survey on this, titled "Can the Market Take Care of the Environment?" (sorry, no online version).

    Like sister like sister, Fantarara also brings up excellent point. Malaria, and maybe other deseases and pandemics are not completely independent of global warming. Again, I would be careful here. Given the current state of science, I'd rather rephrase that to "... might not be completely independent of...".

    This last assertion begs for an authority, which obviously I lack of. So, here's one by an environmental scientist:

    Global Warming Overkills

  5. A study by MIT system dynamics experts "Surveys show most Americans believe global warming is real. But many advocate delaying action until there is more evidence that warming is harmful. The stock and flow structure of the climate, however, means "wait and see" policies guarantee further warming."

    If people believing in global warming is still in "wait and see" to make changes, can we depend on people that are still waiting for more evidence on global warming to make the change? If we can depend on these people, i rest my case, but i am certain that we cannot (please proof me wrong).

    However, in my personal opinion, i agree with Aco, stop the proofing, and start making expensive wind power affordable.