"Geologists exploring the rugged Continental Divide say they
discovered more than 100 additional glaciers here in a single summer,
a surprising find since glaciers around the world are shrinking in
warmer temperatures. [...] Park officials say comparisons with historical
photos suggest that at least some of the glaciers are expanding. Glaciers
are barometers of climate change, and researchers said the survey
results here contradict global warming trends."
--Joseph B. Verrengia, The Associated Press, 4 October 2001

"Climate forecasts are blowing hot and cold again. US researchers
have shown that plants and bacteria in prairie soil cut their production of
greenhouse gas as they adapt to rising heat. So current predictions of
global warming could be over-estimates."
--Helen Pearson, Nature, 11 October 2001

    Associated Press, 4 October 2001

    Nature Science Update, 11 October 2001

    Christian Science Monitor, 10 October 2001

    Andrew Yee <>

    CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

    CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

    Scientific American, November 2001

     Tech Central Station, 10 October 2001

     Michael Paine <>


>From Associated Press, 4 October 2001

By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA-- The Associated Press

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (AP) -- Geologists exploring the rugged
Continental Divide say they discovered more than 100 additional glaciers
here in a single summer, a surprising find since glaciers around the world
are shrinking in warmer temperatures.

The results dramatically change the map of one of the nation's oldest and
best-known national parks, along with the knowledge of weather and water
cycles at high elevations.

Previously, officials believed the park 60 miles northwest of Denver
included 20 permanent ice and snow features, including six named glaciers.

The new survey by geologist Jonathan Achuff shows there are as many as 120
features. Most are located in cold, north-facing pockets on the east side of
the Divide at elevations above 12,000 feet.

Most of the newly discovered glaciers are covered with rocky debris;
continuous freezing and thawing splinters the brittle granite that forms
some of the park's majestic peaks. Park officials say comparisons with
historical photos suggest that at least some of the glaciers are expanding.

Glaciers are barometers of climate change, and researchers said the survey
results here contradict global warming trends.

In Antarctica, the Pine Island Glacier thinned by 36 feet in eight years;
the rate of ice-thinning is 10 times greater than the rate of snowfall

In Africa, the famous white mantle of Mount Kilimanjaro has shrunk by 82
percent since 1912. A survey by Ohio State researcher Lonnie G. Thompson
predicts the equator-straddling glacier will vanish entirely by 2015.
Already, some rivers in Tanzania have dried up as a result, he said.

Similar icy retreats have been measured in the Andes of Peru and the
Himalayas of Tibet. Aerial photos over the past three decades show the
number of named glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park has dropped from
83 to fewer than 65.

Perhaps the only major glacial system that is increasing in size today is in
Norway. Coastal glaciers are more complicated, and some global warming
models predict increased snowfall there as precipitation patterns change.

In Colorado, park officials said subtle climate changes may be helping the
formation of glaciers or at least reducing their retreat.

The Divide already funnels snow from the West up and over ridges, where it
settles in eastern basins just below the tallest peaks.

Also, expanding development near Denver is sending hot air that helps to
form additional cloud cover over the mountains in the summer. While
precipitation hasn't changed much, temperatures have been slightly cooler in
the past several years.

"We're not running quite in synch with global warming here," park
spokeswoman Judy Visty said.

Achuff and others are preparing expanded studies that would begin next
summer, including the possibility of drilling core samples to the bottom of
large ice features, using satellites to measure the glaciers' movements and
seismic testing to determine how much ice and rock the features contain.

Perhaps the most significant of the newly discovered glaciers is located
beneath a boulder field near the 14,255-foot summit of Long's Peak, one of
the West's most popular climbs. The glacier, it turns out, has been skirted
by thousands of visitors annually.

Previously, some geologists speculated that the boulder field was a "rock
glacier" -- a catchall term for thick mixtures of debris and ice. But the
granite may actually cover up a thick ice slab, insulating it from the sun.

"There could be a large chunk of ice under there, perhaps several hundred
feet thick and a mile long," Visty said.

Copyright 2001, AP


>From Nature Science Update, 11 October 2001

Climate forecasts are blowing hot and cold again. US researchers have shown
that plants and bacteria in prairie soil cut their production of greenhouse
gas as they adapt to rising heat1. So current predictions of global warming
could be over-estimates.

Climate-change models assume that soil microbes accelerate global warming.
Rising temperatures are expected to speed the bacteria's respiration, which
burns food and releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).

In fact, grassland soil acclimatizes to heat. In climes such as those on the
prairie, CO2 release "is not going to be as much as feared", says Linda
Wallace of the University of Oklahoma in Norman. This could slow climate

Soil respiration contributes up to 100 billion metric tonnes of carbon a
year to the global carbon cycle. "If we tweak it by 10-15% it's equivalent
to all our emissions combined," says Lindsey Rustad, who studies soil
respiration with the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Service in
Durham, New Hampshire. Man-made emissions total a mere 7 tonnes.

The idea that CO2 release would escalate came from earlier, short-term
studies of heated soil. "We have to be very careful about making long-term
predictions on the basis of short-term experiments," cautions Rustad.

The heat is on

Wallace's team warmed Oklahoma grassland plots using infrared heaters.
Respiration rose, but not as fast as climate models assume. "This assumption
is critical," says climate modeller Peter Cox of the Meteorological Office
in London.

The Earth's average temperature has risen by 0.6 ºC over the past century.
Cox recently predicted a 5.5 ºC hike in global temperatures by 2100. Taking
soil respiration feedback out of the equation cuts the rise to 4.5 ºC, he
works out.

This more conservative estimate would only hold true if respiration
continues to drop off at higher temperatures, Cox warns. That depends on
what is causing it in the soil, where plant roots, bacteria and fungi all
play a part.

One possibility is that when the heat is on, microbes burn up their supply
of sugars quickly; then running out of fuel reigns in their respiration. In
this case, the respiration slowdown would not sustain its initial pace.
Longer studies are needed: "We might not get the answer until after climate
change has happened," says Cox.
Luo, Y., Wan, S., Hui, D. & Wallace, L. L. Acclimatization of soil
respiration to warming in a tall grass prairie. Nature, 413, 622 - 625,
Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2001

>From Christian Science Monitor, 10 October 2001

By Peter N. Spotts | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Saved by fungi?

In forecasting the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on Earth's climate,
scientists may be misjudging the response to global warming from some of the
planet's tiniest terrestrial inhabitants.

As a result, researchers could be overestimating the average warming the
planet might experience.

That is the implication of a growing body of studies focusing on the release
back into the atmosphere of carbon in soil, a process known as soil
respiration. Respiration from plants and soils sits opposite plant
absorption of CO2 on the terrestrial carbon-cycle teeter-totter.

The latest piece in the respiration puzzle comes from a team at the
University of Oklahoma in Norman, where scientists spent a year artificially
warming prairie test plots at a fixed level above the ambient air and
comparing the results with unheated plots.

All plots released carbon dioxide at higher rates in the summer than in the
winter, as expected.

But over the course of the year, the rate at which CO2 was released through
roots and the activity of fungi and tiny soil organisms was no greater in
the warmed plots than in the unheated soils.

This runs counter to a longstanding notion - embraced in textbooks as well
as climate models - that the hotter it gets, the faster soils pump out CO2.
For every 10 degrees C that temperatures rise, CO2 emissions from soils were
thought to double.

By contrast, the team concluded that the soils' organisms quickly adjust to
higher temperatures. Like Northeastern "snowbirds" moving to Florida and
facing warmer temperatures year-round, they "just get used to it."

Combined with additional data suggesting that the prairie grasses in the
heated plots thrived under the additional warmth, the study also suggests
that the world's grasslands may soak up more CO2 than they emit, according
to Linda Wallace, a plant ecologist at the University of Oklahoma and a
member of the team, which is reporting its results in the today's edition of
the journal Nature.

"This is good news on a global basis," Dr. Wallace says. "Grasslands cover a
such a huge proportion of the terrestrial portion of globe. We'd been kind
of discounting them, saying that as things warm up, they would become carbon
sources. But in reality, these grasslands could become carbon sinks."

The concept of acclimatization is important in understanding how terrestrial
ecosystems could respond to global change, researchers say.

Long-term experiments already have shown that, faced with increased
concentrations of CO2, trees go through a relatively short "growth spurt,"
and then their growth rate slows as they become acclimatized to higher CO2
levels, notes Lindsey Rustad, a soil ecologist with the US Forest Service
office in Durham, N.H.

Thus, relying on them as "sinks" for the CO2 that humans are pumping into
the atmosphere may be a short-term approach at best for trying to meet
emissions targets set out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocols.

Down at the root level, soil respiration pumps up to 14 times as much CO2
into the atmosphere each year as human activity currently does.

Thus, with human-induced warming, soils might be expected to increase their
CO2 output as temperatures rise, adding atmospheric insult to injury.
Climate modelers use a representation of that rate in their computer
simulations of global warming.

This relationship was based primarily on the physiology of the various
organisms themselves, Wallace notes, as opposed to detailed measurement of
changes in the respiration rate driven by different temperature regimes.

Other studies in different ecosystems have documented an initial spike in
soil CO2 emissions when the soil is heated.

But those emissions quickly fall as the organisms use up other resources.

These studies, combined with the Oklahoma team's results, lead Dr. Rustad to

"The biggest take-home message is the idea that we really have to reexamine
what sort of inputs we have in our models and how we derive those."

Copyright 2001 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.


>From Andrew Yee <>


Patricia Viets, NOAA's Satellite Service
(301) 457-5005,


NOAA 2001-102


A new satellite-based method for early detection, monitoring and analysis of
drought shows that nearly 20 percent of the world's landmass has been
stricken by drought over the past two years, according to scientists at the
Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Scientists at NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information
Service in Camp Springs, Md., used solar radiation detected from an
instrument onboard NOAA's polar orbiting satellites, called the Advanced
Very High Resolution Radiometer. The solar radiation was observed
in three wavelengths of the solar spectrum -- visible, near infrared and
thermal -- to study vegetation health, moisture, and thermal conditions.

"Satellite data are important to our understanding of the world's climate,
particularly in regions of the world where routine surface measurements are
sometimes difficult to obtain," said Felix Kogan, the NOAA scientist who
developed the new drought detection methodology. "This method has been
tested worldwide for eight years and has proven to be an excellent vehicle
for early drought detection and monitoring, as well as for assessing the
impacts of droughts."

NOAA is providing information on drought to customers around the world. Many
countries in Africa, Asia and North America experienced the effects of
two-year droughts.

Long, intensive spring and summer dryness developed in the southern and
western United States (and neighboring regions of Canada) during 2000 and
2001 with Texas experiencing severe droughts. Satellite data identified
large areas in the Northwest that were vulnerable to intensive fire
activity. During the two-year period, active fires consumed large areas of
forested land.

In the Horn of Africa, early drought signs were recorded in January 2000.
Over the next four months, the drought expanded and intensified, creating
food shortages and outbreak of disease that affected millions of inhabitants
in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and other regions.

In Asia, crop producing regions and rangelands of Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Iran, India, Mongolia and China were severely hit by spring and summer
dryness during 2000 and 2001. The worst situation was observed in
Afghanistan and Pakistan where approximately 60 and 40 percent of these
countries, respectively, suffer from intensive drought in 2001. Unusual
summer dryness also affected countries in the Caspian Sea region.

The new method of drought detection and monitoring has been recognized by
the global scientific and operational community and has been publicized by
the American Meteorological Society, UN-based organizations and
international remote sensing publications. NOAA's data are widely
distributed to the United States and global institutions provided through
the NOAA Web site:

NESDIS is the nation's primary source of space-based meteorological and
climate data. NESDIS operates the nation's environmental satellites, which
are used for weather forecasting, climate monitoring, and other
environmental applications such as fire detection, ozone monitoring, and sea
surface temperature measurements. NESDIS also operates three data centers,
which house global data bases in climatology, oceanography, solid earth
geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics and

To learn more about NESDIS, please visit

Relevant Web Sites

* NOAA's Vegetation and Temperature Condition Index
* NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
* NOAA's Polar-orbiting Satellites
* NOAA's Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer

[ (187KB)]
World moisture and thermal conditions taken on September 30, 2001.


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

Is earth's weather getting more extreme in response to the warming that has
rescued the planet from the chilly grip of the Little Ice Age?  Climate
alarmists say that it should be; and in a review of this question,
Easterling et al. (2000) go even further, saying that data in support of
this proposition "would add to the body of evidence that there is a
discernable human affect on the climate."  Of course, the finding of such
data would do nothing of the sort; but if they truly believe that it would,
they should be equally willing to accept the opposite conclusion, i.e., that
lack of such data would call this claim into question, although, of course,
it really wouldn't.  It would only refute the climate alarmist claim that
warmer weather breeds more extreme weather events.

So what did Easterling et al. discover in their review of the pertinent
scientific literature? In their own words, "in some areas of the world
increases in extreme events are apparent, while in others there appears to
be a decline."  Overall, therefore, they could see no real trend, although
they did acknowledge that "the number of intense and landfalling Atlantic
hurricanes has declined."  Iskenderian and Rosen (2000) also took up the
challenge of the search for change, analyzing two mid-tropospheric
temperature data sets of the last half-century for day-to-day variability
within each month, season and year. However, they too could find no
clear-cut evidence of any significant change in temperature variability for
either the Northern Hemisphere or the United States.

But what about the fact that most measures of the economic impacts of
weather and climate extremes over the past several decades reveal increasing
losses?  In reviewing this question, Kunkel et al. (1999) concluded that
"increasing losses are primarily due to increasing vulnerability arising
from a variety of societal changes, including a growing population in higher
risk coastal areas and large cities, more property subject to damage, and
lifestyle and demographic changes subjecting lives and property to greater
exposure," particularly since "trends in most related weather and climate
extremes do not show comparable increases with time."  Specifically, they
found that "increasing property losses due to thunderstorm-related phenomena
(winds, hail, tornadoes) are explained entirely by changes in societal
factors," and that "when changes in population, inflation, and wealth are
considered," there is a downward trend in hurricane losses.  In addition,
they report "no apparent trend in climatic drought frequency" and "no
evidence of changes in the frequency of intense heat or cold."

Similar conclusions have been reached by van der Vink et al. (1998), who say
"we are becoming more vulnerable to natural disasters because of the trends
of our society rather than those of nature," as well as Changnon et al.
(2000), who say "population growth and demographic shifts are the major
factors behind the increasing losses from weather-climate extremes."  The
latter authors also conclude "it is reasonable to predict ever-increasing
losses even without any detrimental climate changes."

Longer histories of climate provide an even better perspective on the issue.
In a massive tree-ring study conducted in Spain, for example, Manrique and
Fernandez-Cancio (2000) developed thousand-year chronologies of both
temperature and precipitation, finding that the greatest concentration of
extreme climatic excursions was located between 1400 and 1600, with a
maximum frequency centered at about 1500.  In fact, they refer to these
extreme climatic excursions as "the outstanding oscillations of the Little
Ice Age," for which there is no comparable analogue in the entire past

In view of these several real-world observations, it was interesting to note
(see Extreme Weather Events) that on 10 August 1998, the Office of the Vice
President of the United States of America issued an official press release,
stating that "we are warming the planet and, unless we act, we can expect
even more extreme weather - more heat waves, more flooding, more powerful
storms, and more drought." This same message was purveyed to the public
about a year later in a series of HOTEARTH advertisements (see "Noticed the
Weather Lately?") that specifically mentioned heat waves, droughts,
hurricanes and floods. However, as we noted in responding to the claims of
the Vice President, even the IPCC documents of the day were renouncing such
outlandish predictions.  Indeed, the organization's 1996 report bluntly
states "there is no evidence that extreme weather events, or climate
variability, has increased, in a global sense, through the 20th century."
And in our reply to the HOTEARTH ads, we cited several studies that
contradict their contentions with respect to each of the weather events they
claim to be getting worse.

In conclusion, the climate alarmists are clearly way off base with respect
to their predictions of rising air temperatures increasing the frequency and
severity of extreme weather events, which is really a very straightforward
question. And if they can't even get this simple concept right, there's
little reason to believe they are correct on the much more complex question
of man's potential impact on the planet's climate. Why anyone would continue
to believe them is beyond our comprehension.

Changnon, S.A., Pielke Jr., R.A., Changnon, D., Sylves, R.T. and Pulwarty,
R.  2000.  Human factors explain the increased losses from weather and
climate extremes.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 81:

Easterling, D.R., Evans, J.L., Groisman, P.Ya., Karl, T.R., Kunkel, K.E.,
and Ambenje, P.  2000.  Observed variability and trends in extreme climate
events: A brief review.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 81:

Iskenderian, H. and Rosen, R.D.  2000.  Low-frequency signals in
midtropospheric submonthly temperature variance.  Journal of Climate 13:

Kunkel, K.E., Pielke Jr., R.A. and Changnon, S.A.  1999.  Temporal
fluctuations in weather and climate extremes that cause economic and human
health impacts: A review.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
80: 1077-1098.

Manrique, E. and Fernandez-Cancio, A.  2000.  Extreme climatic events in
dendroclimatic reconstructions from Spain.  Climatic Change 44: 123-138.

van der Vink, G., Allen, R.M., Chapin, J., Crooks, M., Fraley, W., Krantz,
J., Lavigne, A.M., LeCuyer, A., MacColl, E.K., Morgan, W.J., Ries, B.,
Robinson, E., Rodriquez, K., Smith, M. and Sponberg, K.  1998.  Why the
United States is becoming more vulnerable to natural disasters.  EOS,
Transactions, American Geophysical Union 79: 533, 537.
Copyright 2001.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

Knappenberger, P.C., Michaels, P.J. and Davis, R.E. 2001. Nature of observed
temperature changes across the United States during the 20th century.
Climate Research 17: 45-53.

What was done
Based on annual temperature data for the USA's 48 contiguous states, which
were obtained from the U.S. Historical Climate Network database, the authors
plotted the history of the country's mean annual temperature from 1910 to
1997. This presentation revealed the existence of three distinct periods of
climate change: a warming from 1910 to 1939, a cooling from 1940 to 1969,
and another warming from 1970 to 1997. For each of these periods, the
authors eliminated all stations with more than 10% missing data, location
moves of more than 0.1' of latitude or longitude, elevation changes of more
than six meters, and time of observation changes of more than one hour, as
well as all stations where liquid-in-glass thermometers in Cotton Region
Shelters were replaced with newer thermistor-based temperature observing
systems, which changeover was begun in the mid-1980s.

For each of the surviving stations of each of the three periods, all days of
the year were ranked from coldest to warmest. Linear regressions were then
run on each station's maximum and minimum temperature for the 730 resulting
time series. The first two (maximum and minimum temperature) were for each
year's coldest day, the second two were for each year's second coldest day,
and so forth on up to each year's hottest day. Finally, the resulting
maximum temperature trends for all stations within each of seven roughly
equal-area regions of the country were averaged, as were the resulting
minimum temperature trends, after which national trends were calculated.

What was learned
The primary objective of this unique study was to compare the warmings of
the first and third periods of the record, since the first period was more
"natural," exhibiting a mean atmospheric CO2 concentration increase of about
0.32 ppm/year (an absolute increase of 9.3 ppm), while the last period was
more anthropogenically-influenced, having a mean CO2 rate of rise of
approximately 1.4 ppm/year (an absolute increase of 38.3 ppm), which is
nearly 4.4 times greater (4.1 times on an absolute basis) than that of the
first period.

In the case of the first or more natural period, the greatest rise in
temperature occurred during the hottest days of the year. By contrast, the
warming of the last period - where the fingerprint of man would be expected
to be more prominent, if it were detectable at all - occurred predominantly
during the coolest days of the year, while days with the highest
temperatures exhibited far less of an increase in temperature. Hence, in the
words of the authors, "the surface air temperature change that has occurred
during the period of the greatest human influence on the climate is one in
which increases of extremely low temperatures have dominated over those of
high temperatures - a climate tending toward moderation rather than the

What it means
Political climatologists are always predicting greater extremes of weather
as a consequence of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. In analyzing the
two periods of warming in this study, however, the period of time most
likely to depict a CO2-induced increase in temperature extremes exhibited
just the opposite behavior. Hence, it would appear that this favorite claim
of the climate alarmists is without basis in observational fact in the best
temperature record currently available to scientists.
Copyright 2001.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

Jevrejeva, S. 2001. Severity of winter seasons in the northern Baltic Sea
between 1529 and 1990: reconstruction and analysis. Climate Research 17:

What was done
Based on a wealth of historical data, the author reconstructed the severity
of winter seasons in the northern Baltic Sea on the basis of observed times
of ice break-up between 1529 and 1990 at the port of Riga, Latvia.

What was learned
The long date-of-ice-break-up time series was best described by a
fifth-order polynomial, which identified four distinct periods of climatic
transition: (1) 1530-1640, warming with a tendency toward early break-up of
9 days/century, (2) 1640-1770, cooling with a tendency toward late break-up
of 5 days/century, (3) 1770-1920, warming with a tendency toward early
break-up of 15 days/century, and (4) 1920-1990, cooling with a tendency
toward late break-up of 12 days/century.

What it means
Over the 390 years from 1530 to 1920 that comprise the sum of the first
three climate change periods identified in this analysis, the atmosphere's
CO2 concentration rose by approximately 16 ppm; while over the 70 years of
the last period it rose by about 54 ppm. Hence, with respect to potential
impacts of the historical rise in the air's CO2 content, the last of the
four periods would be the one most likely to depict what climate alarmists
want us to believe, i.e., that rising CO2 levels are bringing unprecedented
warming to the planet, especially in high-latitude regions. As this study
clearly shows, however, this latter period exhibits the greatest rate of
warming of the entire record, which is not exactly what the climate
alarmists are predicting should have happened. In fact, it is quite the
opposite, with the last year of the time series posting the longest-lasting
presence of ice of the entire 460-year period.
Copyright 2001. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 10 October 2001

Several years ago, Charlson et al. (1987) described a biophysical feedback
mechanism that tends to stabilize earth's surface air temperature against
the effects of both natural and anthropogenic-induced perturbations in
various climate forcing factors (see Dimethyl Sulfide in our Subject Index).
Very briefly, the negative feedback loop they proposed begins with an
impetus for warming that induces an increase in sea surface temperature,
which stimulates the productivity of oceanic phytoplankton, which leads (via
a few intermediate steps) to an enhanced surface-to-air flux of dimethyl
sulfide, which leads via a few other steps to the creation of more cloud
condensation nuclei, which leads to the creation of more and smaller cloud
droplets, which leads to the creation of more and longer-lasting clouds of
greater albedo, which leads to the reflection of more incoming solar
radiation, which finally tends to counteract the initial impetus for

The various links in this complex chain of events have all been thoroughly
investigated and determined to be sound by literally hundreds of
experimental studies.  Consequently, we here proceed in similar fashion -
based upon a number of other well-established biophysical phenomena - to
describe a second temperature-stabilizing feedback loop that appears to be
equally well supported by a solid base of evidence.  Whereas almost anything
could serve as a stimulus for warming in the scenario elucidated by Charlson
et al., however, the initial impetus for the increase in surface air
temperature in the negative feedback loop we describe here focuses
exclusively on the incremental enhancement of the atmosphere's greenhouse
effect that is produced by an increase in the air's CO2 content; and from
this starting point, we identify a chain of events that ultimately
counteracts this impetus for warming by the incremental enhancement of the
planet's natural rate of CO2 removal from the air.

The first of the linkages of this negative feedback loop is the proven
propensity for higher levels of atmospheric CO2 to enhance vegetative
productivity (see Plant Growth Data on our sidebar for verification) and
plant water use efficiency (see Water Use Efficiency in our Subject Index
for verification), which phenomena are themselves powerful negative feedback
mechanisms of the type we envision.  Greater CO2-enhanced photosynthetic
rates, for example, enable plants to remove considerably more CO2 from the
air than they do under current conditions; while CO2-induced increases in
plant water use efficiency allow plants to grow where it was previously too
dry for them.  This latter consequence of atmospheric CO2 enrichment
establishes a potential for more CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere by
increasing the abundance of earth's plants, whereas the former phenomenon
does so by increasing their robustness.  Both limbs of this one-linkage-long
double-barreled negative feedback loop are extremely powerful, as Idso
(1991a,b) has demonstrated how just the first of them may be capable of
stabilizing the air's CO2 concentration at less than a doubling of its
pre-industrial value.  Nevertheless, these tremendous "side-effects"
comprise but the first link of the more extended negative feedback loop that
is the subject of this essay.

The second of the linkages of the new feedback loop is the ability of plants
to emit gases to the atmosphere that are ultimately converted into
"biosols," i.e., aerosols that owe their existence to the biological
activities of earth's vegetation (Duce et al., 1983; Mooney et al., 1987),
many of which function as cloud condensation nuclei (Went, 1966; Meszaros,
1988; Kavouras et al., 1998; Hopke et al., 1999).  It takes little
imagination to realize that since the existence of these atmospheric
particles is dependent upon the physiological activities of plants and their
associated soil biota (Idso, 1990), the CO2-induced presence of more and
more-highly-productive plants will lead to the production of more of these
cloud-mediating particles, which can then act as described by Charlson et
al. to cool the planet.  But this two-linkage-long negative feedback effect,
like the one-linkage-long dual cooling mechanism described in the previous
paragraph, is still not the endpoint of the new feedback loop we are

The third linkage of the new scenario is the observed propensity for
increases in aerosols and cloud particles to enhance the amount of diffuse
solar radiation reaching the earth's surface (Suraqui et al., 1974;
Abakumova et al., 1996).  The fourth linkage is the ability of enhanced
diffuse lighting to reduce the volume of shade within vegetative canopies
(Roderick et al., 2001).  The fifth linkage is the tendency for less
internal canopy shading to enhance whole-canopy photosynthesis (Healey et
al., 1998), which finally produces the end result: a greater biological
extraction of CO2 from the air and subsequent sequestration of its carbon,
compliments of the intensified diffuse-light-driven increase in total canopy
photosynthesis and subsequent transfers of the extra fixed carbon to plant
and soil storage reservoirs.

How significant is the process?  Roderick et al. provide a good estimate
based on one of our favorite approaches to questions of this type: the
utilization of a unique "natural experiment," a technique that has been used
extensively by Idso (1998) to evaluate the climatic sensitivity of the
entire planet.  Specifically, Roderick and his colleagues consider the
volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June of 1991.  This event ejected
enough gases and fine materials into the atmosphere that it produced
sufficient aerosol particles to greatly increase the diffuse component of
the solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth from that point in
time through much of 1993, while only slightly reducing the receipt of total
solar radiation.

Based on a set of lengthy calculations, Roderick et al. conclude that the
Mt. Pinatubo eruption may well have resulted in the removal of an extra 2.5
Gt of carbon from the atmosphere due to its diffuse-light-enhancing
stimulation of terrestrial vegetation in the year following the eruption,
which would have reduced the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 concentration
that year by about 1.2 ppm.  Interestingly, this reduction is about the
magnitude of the real-world perturbation that was actually observed
(Sarmiento, 1993). What makes this observation even more impressive is the
fact that the CO2 reduction was coincident with an El Nio event; because,
in the words of the authors, "previous and subsequent such events have been
associated with increases in atmospheric CO2."  In addition, the observed
reduction in total solar radiation received at the earth's surface during
this period would have had a tendency to reduce the amount of
photosynthetically active radiation incident upon earth's plants, which
would also have had a tendency to cause the air's CO2 content to rise, as it
would tend to lessen global photosynthetic activity.

Clearly, as we probe ever deeper into the secrets of nature, the story that
emerges is one of amazingly complex cross-linkages between the physical and
biological worlds.  This web of interconnectedness wields great power to
maintain the climate of the earth within bounds that are suitable for the
continued existence of life in all its variety.  We would do well to better
learn the lessons these subtle but powerful negative feedback loops have to
tell us before we lunge forward in our hubris and make a massive misstep in
regulating anthropogenic CO2 emissions.  Although deemed to be good by many
conscientious and concerned people, this course might ultimately prove our
undoing ... and that of the rest of the biosphere as well (see our Editorial
of 4 July 2001).

Dr. Sherwood B. Idso, President 
Dr. Keith E. Idso, Vice President 


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1983.  Organic material in the global troposphere.  Reviews of Geophysics
and Space Physics 21: 921-952.

Healey, K.D., Rickert, K.G., Hammer, G.L. and Bange, M.P.  1998.  Radiation
use efficiency increases when the diffuse component of incident radiation is
enhanced under shade.  Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 49:

Hopke, P.K., Xie, Y. and Paatero, P.  1999.  Mixed multiway analysis of
airborne particle composition data.  Journal of Chemometrics 13: 343-352.

Idso, S.B.  1990.  A role for soil microbes in moderating the carbon dioxide
greenhouse effect?  Soil Science 149: 179-180.

Idso, S.B.  1991a.  The aerial fertilization effect of CO2 and its
implications for global carbon cycling and maximum greenhouse warming.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 72: 962-965.

Idso, S.B.  1991b.  Reply to comments of L.D. Danny Harvey, Bert Bolin, and
P. Lehmann.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 72: 1910-1914.

Idso, S.B.  1998.  CO2-induced global warming: a skeptic's view of potential
climate change.  Climate Research 10: 69-82.

Kavouras, I.G., Mihalopoulos, N. and Stephanou, E.G.  1998.  Formation of
atmospheric particles from organic acids produced by forests.  Nature 395:

Meszaros, E.  1988. On the possible role of the biosphere in the control of
atmospheric clouds and precipitation. Atmospheric Environment 22: 423-424.

Mooney, H.A., Vitousek, P.M. and Matson, P.A.  1987.  Exchange of materials
between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. Science 238: 926-932.

Roderick, M.L., Farquhar, G.D., Berry, S.L. and Noble, I.R.  2001.  On the
direct effect of clouds and atmospheric particles on the productivity and
structure of vegetation.  Oecologia 129: 21-30.

Sarmiento, J.L. 1993. Atmospheric CO2 stalled. Nature 365: 697-698.

Suraqui, S., Tabor, H., Klein, W.H. and Goldberg, B. 1974. Solar radiation
changes at Mt. St. Katherine after forty years.  Solar Energy 16: 155-158.

Went, F.W. 1966. On the nature of Aitken condensation nuclei. Tellus 18:
Copyright 2001. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 


>From Scientific American, November 2001

Maverick meteorologist Richard S. Lindzen keeps right on arguing that
human-induced global warming isn't a problem

Adviser to senators, think tanks and at least some of the president's men,
Richard S. Lindzen holds a special place in today's heated debate about
global warming. An award-winning scientist and a member of the National
Academy of Sciences, he holds an endowed chair at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and is the nation's most prominent and vocal
scientist in doubting whether human activities pose any threat at all to the
climate. Blunt and acerbic, Lindzen ill-tolerates navet. So it was with
considerable trepidation recently that I parked in the driveway of his
suburban home.

A portly man with a bushy beard and a receding hairline, Lindzen ushered me
into his living room. Using a succession of cigarettes for emphasis, he
explains that he never intended to be outspoken on climate change. It all
began in the searing summer of 1988. At a high-profile congressional
hearing, physicist James E. Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space
Studies went public with his view: that scientists knew, "with a high degree
of confidence," that human activities such as burning fossil fuel were
warming the world. Lindzen was shocked by the media accounts that followed.
"I thought it was important," he recalls, "to make it clear that the science
was at an early and primitive stage and that there was little basis for
consensus and much reason for skepticism." What he thought would be a couple
of months in the public eye has turned into more than a decade of climate
skepticism. "I did feel a moral obligation," he remarks of the early days,
"although now it is more a matter of being stuck with a role."

It may be just a role, but Lindzen still plays it with gusto. His
wide-ranging attack touches on computer modeling, atmospheric physics and
research on past climate. His views appear in a steady stream of
congressional testimonies, newspaper op-eds and public appearances. Earlier
this year he gave a tutorial on climate change to President George W. Bush's

It's difficult to untangle how Lindzen's views differ from those of other
scientists because he questions so much of what many others regard as
settled. He fiercely disputes the conclusions of this past spring's report
of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)--largely considered
to be the definitive scientific assessment of climate change--and those of a
recent NAS report that reviewed the panel's work. (Lindzen was a lead author
of one chapter of the IPCC report and was an author of the NAS report.) But,
according to him, the country's leading scientists (who, he says, concur
with him) prefer not to wade into the troubled waters of climate change:
"It's the kind of pressure that the average scientist doesn't need." Tom M.
L. Wigley, a prominent climate scientist at the National Center for
Atmospheric Research, says it is "demonstrably incorrect" that top
researchers are keeping quiet. "The best people in the world," he observes,
have contributed to the IPCC report.
Lindzen agrees with the IPCC and most other climate scientists that the
world has warmed about 0.5 degree Celsius over the past 100 years or so. He
agrees that human activities have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere by about 30 percent. He parts company with the others when it
comes to whether these facts are related. It's not that humans have no
effect at all on climate. "They do," he admits, though with as much impact
on the environment as when "a butterfly shuts its wings."

The IPCC report states that "most of the observed warming over the last 50
years" is of human origin. It says that late 20th-century temperatures shot
up above anything the earth had experienced in the previous 1,000 years.
Michael E. Mann, a geologist at the University of Virginia and a lead author
of the IPCC's past-climate chapter, calls the spike "a change that is
inconsistent with natural variability." Lindzen dismisses this analysis by
questioning the method for determining historical temperatures. For the
first 600 years of the 1,000-year chronology, he claims, researchers used
tree rings alone to gauge temperature and only those from four separate
locations. He calls the method used to turn tree-ring width into temperature
hopelessly flawed.

Mann was flabbergasted when I questioned him about Lindzen's critique, which
he called "nonsense" and "hogwash." A close examination of the IPCC report
itself shows, for instance, that trees weren't the sole source of data--ice
cores helped to reconstruct the temperatures of the first 600 years, too.
And trees were sampled from 34 independent sites in a dozen distinct regions
scattered around the globe, not four.

Past climate isn't the only point of divergence. Lindzen also says there is
little cause for concern in the future. The key to his optimism is a
parameter called "climate sensitivity." This variable represents the
increase in global temperature expected if the amount of carbon dioxide in
the air doubles over preindustrial levels--a level the earth is already one
third of the way toward reaching. Whereas the IPCC and the NAS calculate
climate sensitivity to be somewhere between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees C, Lindzen
insists that it is in the neighborhood of 0.4 degree.

The IPCC and the NAS derived the higher range after incorporating positive
feedback mechanisms. For instance, warmer temperatures will most likely
shrink the earth's snow and ice cover, making the planet less reflective and
thus hastening warming, and will also probably increase evaporation of
water. Water vapor, in fact, is the main absorber of heat in the atmosphere.

But such positive feedbacks "have neither empirical nor theoretical
foundations," Lindzen told the U.S. Senate commerce committee this past May.
The scientist says negative, not positive, feedback rules the day. One
hypothesis he has postulated is that increased warming actually dries out
certain parts of the upper atmosphere. Decreased water vapor would in turn
temper warming. Goddard's Hansen says that by raising this possibility
Lindzen "has done a lot of good for the climate discussion." He hastens to
add, however, "I'm very confident his basic criticism--that climate models
overestimate climate sensitivity--is wrong."

In March, Lindzen published what he calls "potentially the most important"
paper he's written about negative feedback from water vapor. In it, he
concludes that warming would decrease tropical cloud cover. Cloud cover is a
complicated subject. Depending on factors that change by the minute, clouds
can cool (by reflecting sunlight back into space) or warm (by trapping heat
from the earth). Lindzen states that a reduction in tropical cloudiness
would produce a marked cooling effect overall and thus serve as a
stabilizing negative feedback.

But three research teams say Lindzen's paper is flawed. For example, his
research was based on data collected from satellite images of tropical
clouds. Bruce A. Wielicki of the NASA Langley Research Center believes that
the images were not representative of the entire tropics. Using data from a
different satellite, Wielicki and his group conclude, in a paper to appear
in the Journal of Climate, that, on balance, warmer tropical clouds would
have a slight heating, not a cooling, effect.

Looking back at the past decade of climate science, many researchers say
computer models have improved, estimates of past climate are more accurate,
and uncertainty is being reduced. Lindzen is not nearly so sanguine. In his
mind the case for global warming is as poor as it was when his crusade
began, in 1988. Climate research is, he insists, "heavily polluted by
political rhetoric, with evidence remaining extremely weak." To Lindzen,
apparently, the earth will take care of itself.
Daniel Grossman is a freelance writer in Watertown, Mass.


>From Tech Central Station, 10 October 2001

AEI-Brookings Joint Center For Regulatory Study Event on Oct. 3, 2001, with
Professor Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist

Moderator: James Glassman of Tech Central Station

Panelists: David Sandelow of the World Wildlife Fund and Alan Hammond of the
World Resources Institute

Robert Hahn, co-director of the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory
Studies: There have been hundreds of books written about the environment
over the last 20 or 30 years. Many of those books are of the doom and gloom
variety with titles like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, Toxic Terror, and
Dead Heat. There are a few on the other side, the "don't worry, be happy"
category, which say that markets will solve everything. The Skeptical
Environmentalist by our featured speaker today, Professor (Bjorn) Lomborg,
has a bit of yin and yang in it, and that's perhaps why I like it. It points
out that things are getting better for the most part, but we still have lots
of work to do. Not only in addressing environmental problems, but also in
addressing problems of poverty. It points out that we can't solve all
environmental problems, nor can we solve all social problems. So therefore
we have to introduce a dirty word into the lexicon, prioritize. And indeed,
dare I say it, we need to begin to weigh the costs and benefits of different
policies so we can better allocate resources to their highest value. Now
this is music to the ears of people like my colleague, Randy Lutter and
myself and others at the Joint Center, but on the other hand, this music may
not be so melodious to members of Greenpeace. Maybe Bjorn can tell us a
little bit more about that.

This book develops its conclusions the old-fashioned way, through a
judicious application of science, economics and common sense. Professor
Lomborg's book is at the top of my environmental hit parade for three
reasons. First, because he puts the former law review editors in this
audience to shame. For those of you who don't have the book there are about
2,900 footnotes in this book that support his well-reasoned argument, and I
confess Bjorn that I didn't read them all, though I did read the text of the
book. But I did note two footnotes where you cited my work [laughter] and I
might mention in that regard that there are free copies of that book
downstairs in my office which I'm trying to get rid of in anticipation of my
office move.

The second reason I think this book will be of great interest to you is
because it provides lots of pictures. Now for those of you who are thinking
of waterfalls or trees or majestic mountains those are the kind of pictures
I'm talking about. I'm talking about the over 100 figures which are
essential graphs for understanding the state of the environment and the
state of the world and that Professor Lomborg very ably explains in his
eloquent exposition.

The third reason I think that this book deserves very serious consideration
is it provides one of the best overviews I've ever read of the politics,
economics and science of environmental problems, and I'd like to just give
you a disclaimer. I'm not being paid by Cambridge University Press, nor have
I met Professor Lomborg prior to today. Also, one advertisement. If you
would like to learn more about the Joint Center you can view our website
which has all our publications written there in their entirety, and if you
so choose you can also fill out a blue card in your pamphlet today which
would put you on our e-mail mailing list so you can get news of events like

I'm very delighted that my colleague from AEI, who also I believe is the
founder of Tech Central Station, Jim Glassman, agreed to moderate this panel
today. Jim is also a distinguished author in his own right and, Jim, I'll
turn it over to you now.

James Glassman: Thanks, Bob. I'm just going to sit here. I just want to say
a few words. It's just a great, great pleasure to me. ... I first began to
hear of Bjorn Lomborg whom I just met maybe ten or fifteen minutes ago for
the first time probably about two months ago from my colleagues at Tech
Central Station, which is a website that focuses on technology and public
policy, and Charles Francis who's sitting here managed to get hold of Bjorn,
called him up, which is . . . you can do that, you know? You can call
Denmark. [laughter]

And we talked to Bob Hahn and to Chris Demuth and here we all are today.
It's quite remarkable. I think all of us who are old enough to remember the
limits to growth craze during the early 1970s with Paul Ehrlich and others
predicting famine and the depletion of resources, the scourge of worse and
worse environmental catastrophe, now have something . . . have a very
important anecdote.

I think the most important thing about this book as far as I'm concerned is
that it began with a premise that was just the opposite of its conclusion.
Bjorn Lomborg, who is a professor of statistics at the University of Arnhaus
... in Denmark was leafing through a copy of Wired magazine in 1997 on a
newsstand in Denmark and came across an interview with ... the late
(libertarian economist) Julian Simon, and Simon was talking about how the
state of the world was not as dire as many had thought, which is essentially
that the song that Julian had been singing for decades and not that many
people were listening. ... What he suspected was that Simon was spouting,
and these are Bjorn's words from his book, "simple American right-wing
propaganda." So Bjorn went to his students and said, "Here's an interesting
project for the next semester. Let's take a look very carefully at the
things that Julian Simon is saying and the things that people like Paul
Ehrlich is saying and look at the actual numbers and find out where the
truth lies." And the result is this truly remarkable book. Bjorn calls the
set of beliefs that Julian Simon attacked the litany. And I just want to
quote to you from ... his book. He says that "Even children are told the
Litany," which he capitalizes. Here from the Oxford University Press' Young
Oxford Books, this is a quote, "The balance of nature is delicate but
essential for life. Humans have upset that balance, stripping the land of
its green cover, choking the air and poisoning the seas." I think you all
know what this Litany is." So this is a remarkable book. The Economist has
called it a triumph, one of the most valuable books on public policy to have
been written for the intelligent general reader in the past 10 years.

We're going to hear for about a half an hour from Professor Lomborg. Before
he begins I want to introduce the two other distinguished members of our
panel. Directly to my left is David Sandelow who is Executive Vice President
of the World Wildlife Fund and before joining WWF, which in the rest of the
word is called something else, right? World ...

David Sandelow: Worldwide Fund for Nature. Glassman: ...Worldwide Fund for
Nature. He served as assistant secretary of state for Oceans, Environment
and Science and has held many important jobs in government. And to my far
left is Alan Hammond, whom I've known for, gosh, probably more than 20 years
when he was the charismatic editor of a publication called Science 80. He is
now the chief information officer and senior scientist for the World
Resources Institute and before that he created the research news section of
the journal, Science, and has had a distinguished career in journalism and,
to some extent, scholarship. He and I are kind of similar in that sense. I
don't know how distinguished my career has been, but we sort of bridge
journalism and science. So, Professor Lomborg is going to talk for a half an
hour, and then David and Alan will each have about fifteen minutes and then
we will probably have a little bit of discussion among ourselves and then
we'll hear from you.

So, Bjorn Lomborg? Please. ...

Lomborg: Thank you very much. You've pretty much already given away the
book, right? [laughter] But I think it is important though to say that this
is not my primary area. I teach statistics, as you said, to 250 students
each year in the University of Aarhus. I have to make them think that
statistics is not deadly boring. That's not an easy task, and the only real
trick I have is walking forth and back to keep them falling asleep.
[laughter] And I'm going to be doing that again today. But the real point
that I always try to make to my students is to say listen, you have a lot of
myths about how the world works, but it doesn't necessarily be true just
because you've heard it from your uncle or because you've seen it on the
news. And you have to actually go check the data.

Now obviously, I'm also selling a course here, but I've always tried to take
a lot of different myths and say these are actually not true. I never did
that with the environment because I was a committed Greenpeace person, and I
really thought just like I think pretty much everyone else, at least in big
cities, that everything's going the wrong way when we were talking about the
environment. And that was why I got so upset about the comments that Julian
Simon made. But also, of course, because he said, well, go check the data,
and I felt like, "Oh, that's like me talking to my students." So I felt like
I had to check it out and I really thought we were going to debunk Simon.

As it turned out we were mostly debunked. I mean there are some things that
Simon really was right-wing American propaganda, but a lot of it was true,
and that is the important point to get out. And what I'd like to do, I mean
given the fact that this is a long book I realize that a lot of you don't
have time or will not be able to read the book. So I would like to sort of
give you a quick tour through the book. Of course in that sense I have
thirty minutes. I'm going to basically try to cover the whole world, all the
things that have happened and all the things that will happen. [laughter]
That's a tall task, and in that sense of course I can only say, which I'm
sure Cambridge University Press will love, you've got to buy the book if you
want to know more. But I'm going to try and give you a feel for what are the
basic points and why I make some of those conclusions.

Basically I want to make two points and these are very inter-related and you
really need to the one to get to the other. First of all, Doomsday is not
neigh. Actually, things are not going the wrong direction. Things are
generally moving in the right direction. Things are getting better and
better. And I notice, and I'm going to say this a lot of times, that does
not mean that everything is fine. That would be a very unscientific thing to
say to you. I'm merely saying things are going better and not worse. And
that also means that we don't have to act in desperation.

Basically, the whole idea here is to say if we can start saying, "OK, we're
moving in the right direction," then we will become much more likely to be
able to say, OK, we need to prioritize." We simply need to attack worse
things first. And then deal with the other things later on. We should start
saying where do we spend our money the best. That's an obvious consequence
in an economic sense, but it only works if we don't feel that we're
cornered. Basically, if we feel we're cornered, if we feel everything is
going to help, if we feel the environment is somehow doomed, then we're
willing to spend whatever it takes to try to get out of there. That's really
equivalent to somebody coming up and putting a gun to your head and saying
give me your wallet. You know, you don't stand around and think, "Ummm.
Would I rather buy a toaster?" [laughter] You just simply hand over the

But the idea here is to say so if the data, and that's what I'm going to
spend much of the time trying to show you some of the many graphs in the
book, the massive data that I present in the book, if that actually
indicates things are going better then we can start saying, "OK, we need to
prioritize." And that is, of course, the other point here to say then we can
start saying, "We've only got one bag of money, but we have lots of good
things we'd like to do. What of all those things would be the best to do?"
And that's the other thing that I'll try to get back to at the end, and then
just to give you sort of an outline of both the book and my lecture here.

First, I want to talk about how have things been going for humans. What are
they likely to do in the future? What about the things that support our
future progress, resources and all kinds? What about the pollution that
we're experiencing? And what about the future problems of the globe and I'll
specifically talk about global warming because that's probably the biggest
issue that we are talking about right now. And then finally also what is the
cost of us worrying and especially worrying too much? That's a lot of ground
to cover, so in that sense I hope you'll also forgive me if everything sort
of seems . . . somebody yesterday said some of these facts are
uncontextualized. Yes, that's true. I mean if you want to go through the
whole thing in 30y minutes you'd sort of have to assume a lot of things. And
I do know the fact that we ought to put a lot more words around this, but
I'm trying to give you a broad picture of what is happening here.

So let me just give you the short overview of the second part of the book,
basically, so, how have things been going? And that is, things have been
getting better and better on pretty much all accounts. We have more leisure
time, greater security, fewer accidents, more education, more amenities,
high incomes, fewer starving, more food, and a healthier and longer life.
And this goes both for the industrialized world and, perhaps much more
importantly, for the developing world.

Now notice this, and I'll just show you one of those graphs to say we have
more food. This is not to say that there are no problems. Let me show you
this one graph and this is how much food we have per person in the world and
in developing countries. I'm going to show you a lot of these graphs, right?
I'm sorry. I'm a statistician. I think these kinds of things are sexy.
[laughter] It doesn't necessarily mean that everybody else thinks so, right?
But it's a good way of actually getting a feeling for what does our world
look like.

And so in that sense what I'm saying is, and you can also see down here I'll
always put the quotation where do I get these numbers from. It's not that
I'm making them up or something here. They basically show all the important
areas from the best data that we have. This is from the U.N. Food and
Agricultural Organization, their latest prediction and numbers from ... 1961
until 2030 -- it's a prediction from 1999 and onwards -- per capita, per day
of calories. ... and the important point here of course is to say, the
developing world here we actually have a situation where they've gone from
1,932 calories per day, that's almost starvation level, in 1961 up to about
2,650 calories per day in 1998 and they're expected to rise above 3,000 by
2030. That is the point of saying things are getting better.

And notice what I'm saying is slowly things are getting better. That's a
scientific judgment saying this graph is going up, not down. But I'm not
saying it's good enough. I'm not saying, "Hey, they don't need more than
2,650 calories. That's enough for them." That's not what I'm saying. We can
still say they ought to have more food, but it's important to say it's a lot
better to have 2,650 calories than 1,932 calories. Of course, and this is
also one of the places where you can take, "Yeah, well, statistics -- you
all know the quote - 'lies, damn lies, statistics,' " right? Of course what
we really tried to teach our students and the reason why we say statistics
is important because it's really our only way of looking into the social
world and making actual scientific judgments. Yes, it is possible to lie
with statistics. That's only because you don't know how to read statistics
properly. What we really try to teach our students, and, of course, also
what I try to present to you today, is that there are right ways of showing
what statistics are. And yes, there are also false ways or ways that you
sort of slip in something that unsuspecting people may actually pick up on.
One of the issues that you always say is, "Well, this is just an average."
Right? This could actually hide the fact that we get more and more calories
per person, it's probably unlikely it's one person eating all of it, right?
But it could be the middle class that's actually eating some of this. So it
still could mask the fact that ever more people were going hungry, but
that's not the case either.

Actually the U.N., in its latest reports, estimates that in 1970 35% of the
entire developing world was starving. That's more than one in three persons
were starving in 1970. In 1998, the number was down to 18%. It is expected
to drop to about 6% in 2030. That again points out the fact it's a lot
better that we just have 6% starving than we have 35% starving. But it does
still mean that in 2030 there'll be about 400 million people without enough
food. There's still a problem, but it's a smaller problem. And so both (sets
of) information are important. Things are getting better, but it doesn't
mean that there are no problems.

Let me just again say when I point all these things and say we have gotten
all these things, you might say, "Oh, hey, Bjorn just made up a list of all
the things that he could find that went the right way." So my friends say
there are two graphs in the book, one going up when that's good and one
going down when that's good, right? But of course the point here is to say,
No, this is what the U.N. tells us is the good life. This is what U.N. says,
and I would also imagine most of us would expect, this is what constitutes
the good life.

So I'm actually trying typically to take the good definition, the
definitions that we all agree on, and then say so, how are things going?
But, you could also still say, "Yeah, well, but what about all the other
issue areas?" On the environmental areas -- I'll also get into that -- many
of those areas have actually improved when we talk about air and water
quality. And when we look at some of the costs in the bad years and our
general fears and the ones that we have in the future, we then have to start
thinking about -- what's the idea I said before? -- we have to start
thinking about prioritizing. We have to start asking the hard questions of:
How important is this? How much can we do? And how much is it going to cost
because we really have lots of different things we'd like to do?

There are lots of good things to do in the world. We need to do the ones
that do the most good and so we both have to look at, for instance, chemical
fears, pesticides, that's one of the big chapters in the book, and global
warming which is the one I'm going to come back to shortly. So let me just
give you a feeling for it. If you then accept the idea of saying okay, it
has been getting better and better on all major accounts. We have more food,
we have more income, we have fewer people starving, and so on.

But then what about the future? Is that actually likely to go on? Well, on a
lot of counts this really matters, and then to each and every resource and
say, "Well, will we be able to handle that? Will there be enough food? Will
there be enough forests? Will there be enough water?" And so on. Again, I
try to go through all of these different issues in the book. I'm just going
to show you one thing, namely the question of resource in the very narrow

The question of, do we have enough resources, as in fossil fuels, and do we
have enough resources in non-fossil fuel resources? I'll just show you two
graphs, the idea here being oil. I mean, we're an energy-based civilization
and we need energy. But on the other hand, the energy that we use right now,
fossil fuel, we've always been told we're going to run out of it. This old
professor at Princeton, a couple of years ago, said we've been running out
of oil ever since I was a kid. And, you know, we have to actually then take
a look at the data and say, "Well, is that true? Are we actually running
out?" Well, actually it's a fairly simple question. ... In 1920 we know how
much oil we used. We also know how much oil we thought was left over in
1920. So if we divide these two numbers we get an estimate of how many years
we have left over at the consumption of 1920. The answer was 10 years. So in
10 years' time it had been a natural conclusion we're going to run out. That
was actually also what the Department of the Interior said: We're going to
run out in 10 years' time. Now so if you go to 1930 you'd be tempted to say,
"Well, then it should be down to zero." No. In 1930, it was still 10 years,
but now at the new higher level in 1930. And, mind you, we'd also used 10
years' worth of oil resources. OK,, well at least then in 1940 we should be
down. All right? That was what the Department of the Interior said. But, no,
there is still about eight years left over at the even higher rate of
consumption in 1940, and despite the fact that we used 20 years' worth of
oil. And so the conclusion actually here, we have used more and more oil. We
have used that oil, too. And we have a higher consumption each year. Despite
that fact, we have had pretty much the highest level of years left over. So
the confusing conclusion here is actually that the more we use, the more we
actually have left over.

Now notice this does not mean ... that the earth is not round. I mean
there's only so much oil in here. But it means that we have been looking at
the wrong parameter in the sense of saying, "Oh, then we're going to run out
when we empty the stock that we already know about." Because, basically,
what we do is we find more oil; we get better at exploiting it, and we get
better at substituting when that's necessary. So the idea here is to say,
"Yes, we may only have 50 years' left over right now. But, first of all
we're probably likely to find more. We also know that within 25 years we can
probably at competitive prices have anywhere from two to five times the
amount of oil that we know in conventional terms in shale oil." Actually ...
the total, what do you call it, reserves of shale oil is probably at the
level of saying that we could cover the present not only oil consumption,
but the present energy consumption for the next 5,000 years.

The point here is, of course, to say what will happen is that we are not
going to stop using oil because we run out of it, but simply because we get
better alternatives. This is also one of the typical quotes by Sheik Yamani
, the guy who founded OPEC. He basically says, you know, "The oil age is not
going to come to an end because we ran out of oil, just as the Stone Age
didn't come to an end because of lack of stone." [laughter]

The idea here is to say we just simply found better alternatives. And we
know, and this is going to be important when we talk about global warming,
we know that renewable energy resources have been dropping in price about
50% per decade over the last three decades. This is likely to continue even
if it just continues at about 30%. This means that by mid-century, or a
little after, they'll become competitive or even out-compete fossil fuels.
So in that sense, it's unlikely that we'll continue to sue vast amounts of
fossil fuel by the end of the century. This, of course, has great bearing on
the global warming issue.

Let me also just give you a feel for what is our actual energy consumption.
With the current technology in solar cells actually enables us to cover the
entire world consumption of energy by just putting out solar panels and what
would be the equivalent of 2.6% of the area of (the) Sahara. I mean nobody's
actually suggesting that, but the debate in Denmark has been pretty heated.
So, despite the fact that I say this, as just an example, people say,
"That's totally unrealistic. Just think about all the cords, all the wires."

But, you know, the idea here is to say this is actually not a question of we
can't do it. It's a question; of course, we wouldn't want to do it because
it'd be like five times as expensive right now. But we will be doing that --
either renewable energy resources or fusion age or something we haven't even
thought of right now. So the idea here is to say this curve actually shows
that, no, we're not going to run out of resources. we're actually going to
get more and more, which is very counter-intuitive.

Now you may also say well, yeah, yeah, Bjorn you're showing this graph again
because it goes the right way. No. I'm showing this graph because that's
exactly the same way it also looks for the other two important fossil fuels,
namely coal and gas, and it's also the way it looks for all the other
important non-fossil fuels. I go through all the major areas of non-fossil
fuel resources, the four major ones, apart from cement, which nobody worries
about our running out of. We have aluminum, iron, copper and zinc in that
order. And all four of them, despite (the fact that) we have increased our
consumption in the last 50 years by about two to 10 times, we have seen
increasing use of consumption just like here, and not decreasing use of
consumption, which is why we've seen a general decrease in prices of raw
material over the last 150 years.

This is the Economist's Raw Material Price Index, and what we basically see
is that it's a drop, this is an index up here, where today (it) is equal to
one, and basically what we are seeing is a drop about 80% in raw material
prices. If the Economist is accurate, that would be to say, if prices drop,
it's an indicator that things are actually getting less scarce, not more
scarce. That's an important point to make basically because what it shows is
that not only have things been going better, but they are likely to continue
to go better simply because the resources that support our future progress
are not diminishing, are not actually falling out. The underpinnings of our
future progress is not collapsing, but actually seems to get ever better in
the sense (that) ... we leave a world where resources will be cheaper for
our children and grandchildren.

Notice I've only looked at one issue area. There ... (are) lots of different
area(s). We'll probably take some of them up, then probably some of my
opponents will also bring up some of them, and then we'll have to discuss
those when we get there, of course. But again, this is to give you a feel
for why this might actually be true -- that things will get better also into
the future.

But then, of course, you could say, "Yeah, sure, Bjorn, but Bjorn is really
just talking money, right? What about pollution? Pollution could be
undercutting our welfare, our future welfare. What does it help if we get a
lot of money if we're coughing all the way over to the bank?" So the idea
here, of course, is to say, "Well, let's try and look at some of the
important pollution areas." And I'm going to show you the most important
area. The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that about
anywhere from 83 to 96% of all social benefits from regulating pollution
comes from regulating air pollution and especially particulate pollution. So
this is by far the most important pollutant, and I'm just going to show you
this one graph. We have all an idea of air pollution as a fairly recent
phenomenon, and it's getting better and better. I'll show you the graph from
London, which is the only place that we have data very far back. This is
from 1585 until today. ... Now we don't actually have measurement and we'd
love if somebody had been out measuring in 1585. They didn't do that. This
is based on a model from coal imports, and since that was a very well
regulated thing in London there is high confidence in this model, and then
it's been correlated to the models, to the measurements that we have
beginning in the early 1920s and until today. And what we basically see is
the air pollution has increased since 1585 up to about 1890, and from then
on it's declined dramatically, so that now in London the air is cleaner,
when we talk about the most important air pollutant, then it's ever been
since 1585. The air has never been cleaner in London since the medieval
times. Now that's an important point to make, but it does not mean -- and
that's actually one of the arguments I make in the book -- it doesn't mean
that this might not actually be a good investment to cut it even further.
But the idea is we should cut it because it's a good idea, not because we're
worried that we're going to get overwhelmed somehow by particles, particle
pollution or pollution in general.

No, pollution has gone down, but it might actually be a good idea to cut it
even further. That makes good sense certainly in the case of Britain and
Denmark, and Britain about half of all particulate pollution is passed by
just 6% of the cars, namely diesel cars, because they put out much more.
It'd be very costly to put a special catalytic converters on diesel cars to
cut down particle emissions, but it seems that that would actually be a
very, very good deal, all in all. So the idea here is to say, "Yes, we can
still do good things for the environment, but we shouldn't do it because we
worry, because we're saying, 'Oh, everything is going to hell,' but because
simply it's a good idea." So the idea here again is to say this shows us
generally that, at least to the developed world, things are not getting
worse, but they're actually getting better.

But we can still make a good argument that at some point, and certainly when
we talk about particulate pollution it'd actually be a good idea to do even
better. ... Yesterday my opponent also said, "Well, Bjorn just took London
because it's also one of the dirtiest cities in the world." Well, yes,
London was a very dirty city. It's not really clear whether it was the
dirtiest. ... We certainly also have data from Pittsburgh and several other
places that I also show in the book. But it is also because that's where we
have the data from. Naturally, we would like to have data from other places,
but it's the only place that we have a model that goes all the way back to
1585. I don't pick these out just to make bad cases. I just simply pick them
out because that's where we have the data.

But everybody agrees, and this is pretty much the picture that we have seen
for all developed countries, that we've seen dramatic declines over the last
hundred years in most of the developed world. Now, that is not happening if
you live in Beijing or in Mexico City. Things are actually getting worse and
worse. But that's also in a sense obvious -- this is one of the World Bank
analyses -- ... basically, what we see is if we see income per capita this
way (Editor's note: income per capita increasing) and, for instance,
particles and concentration, well, first things get worse and then they get
better (Editor's note: particulate concentration first rises then declines).
That's no big surprise in the sense that this is exactly the pattern we saw
for London and that is also likely to be the pattern that we'll see for all
the developing world. Basically, they say first, "Cool, we can get
industrialized, we can actually get money enough to buy ourselves food, give
our kids a college education, and maybe buy things for ourselves." And only
when you get sufficiently rich do you start saying, "Hmmm? Now it'd also be
nice to cough a little less." And then you find some environmental
improvement. That's what we did in the developed world, and it's also likely
to happen in the developing world. So, it's important to say, "Yes, things
are getting worse when you talk about air pollution in the developing world,
but maybe they're just making exactly the same tradeoff because they're poor
as we did a hundred years ago or certainly we saw that they did in London a
hundred years ago."

Now, so let me get to the idea of saying what I tried to show you here very
quickly is basically things have been getting better in the past. They are
likely to do so into the future. It's not likely that pollution is going to
undercut future progress in the sense that the most important pollutant, and
by far the most important particulate pollution, has been declining
dramatically in the developed world, there's still a good case to be made to
make it decline even further. And there's a good argument to say that that
will also happen to the developing world.

So, what should we then do about the things that we worry about in the
future? And then I'm just going to talk very shortly about global warming
because that is obviously, in a sense, probably the biggest issue of the
day. That is the word that most people hear right now. Well I'm not going to
get into at all the discussion about the science of global warming. There's
a lot of discussion about the uncertainty there. It seems to me that what we
really need to know more about is to what extent is global warming going to
harm us? We're still talking about 25 years of research. We basically have
the same doubling of carbon dioxide, the sensitivity, and it's still the
same range, 1.5 degrees Celsius up to 4.5 degrees Celsius. The one thing
would not harm us very much, the other thing would harm us dramatically and
we'd really like to know which is true. We still don't know, and it doesn't
seem like we've gotten much closer to saying that.

But it seems incontrovertible that carbon dioxide is warming the planet. Now
we need to realize that, since it's likely that we will stop using fossil
fuels in a massive scale by the end of the century simply because ... we are
going to see that renewable energy resources definitely will become
competitive or even out-compete fossil fuels by around mid-century and it is
also likely that there will be all other technologies, then it seems likely
that we will see a temperature increase given the IPCC (the United Nation's
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report of about two to three
degrees warming. Now that is not a trivial amount. That will mean great
disruption in many places. However, it's also important to realize this will
mainly impact on the Third World. In the technical summary of the IPCC that
I quoted, the scientists did write out; the politicians changed that for
obvious reasons. They just simply deleted it or blurred the paragraph. But
basically what they (Editor's note: the scientists) said was (that) up to
two to three degrees warming, this is not going to harm the developed world.
Basically on average, it's both going to be positive and negative, and it's
basically going to be around zero or maybe even positive to the developed
world. What it will do is that it will harm the developing world. And that's
an important point, in the sense of saying when we talk about global warming
and being sensitive about global warming if what we're looking at is two to
three degrees temperature increase it's primarily about helping the Third
World, avoiding some of those consequences that will come from two to three
degrees warming. Naturally we could do this in either way of saying we'll
help them in other areas or that we will help them in avoiding some of that
temperature increase basically by cutting back carbon dioxide emissions.

Let's just take a look at the primary thing that we're talking about right
now, namely Kyoto, and say okay, we're trying to do something about global
warming by cutting back on carbon dioxide. That seems a sensible idea,
right? We're saying basically we have a huge problem here. I'm going to show
you in a little while it has about the total scare, economists just like to
make up these numbers, but basically say it has a consequence of about $5
trillion, global warming. That's a lot of money. I mean we'd love ... that
there was no global warming. We can't really wish it away, right? But we'd
love if it wasn't there. So to that extent there is a big problem here. The
question, of course, is the cure then actually going to be more expensive
than the original disease? That is the question we need to ask. It does not
make sense to say we have to do something about a problem if what we can do
is actually very marginal or even counterproductive in the sense of using
vast amounts of resources and doing almost no good.

Now let's just take a look at what can we do when we talk about the Kyoto
Treaty (Editor's note: The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in 1997 but has
been enacted in only one developed nation. It calls for reducing worldwide
emissions of greenhouse gases by 5% below 1990 levels). This is one of the
... lead models of the 1996 IPCC report, but this is what all models come up
with in qualitative terms. Obviously they have different predictions, but
it's the same amount pretty much that they come up with. If we don't do
anything, if we just do business as usual, this model predicts a temperature
increase of about 2.1 degrees (C) in 2100. Now that is a substantial amount
and we'd definitely like that not to happen.

Now if we do Kyoto, which is basically cutting back carbon emissions about
30%nt for the industrialized countries compared to what it would otherwise
have been in 2010. If we do that it's not like we're going to stop global
warming. We're just simply going to make it less quick. What we will do is
it basically means that we'll get a temperature increase of 1.8 degrees. Now
notice these are the exact models that the IPCC used. So there's no question
about these in the sense of that is our best prediction of what will happen.

What we're basically saying here is the temperature increase that we would
have in 2094, we've now postponed until 2100. So to put it a different way,
what Kyoto does is it does not stop global warming. It simply postpones the
problems for about six years. So, to take the Bangladesh who has to move
because his house gets inundated, it's not like we're saving him or his
house by doing Kyoto. We're just simply buying him six more years to move in

That's of course better than nothing, but we have to ask ourselves is it
worth the cost. And the cost on the other hand by all the major models, and
this is also what is referred in the IPCC, is anywhere from $150 to $350
billion a year for the globe. Just to give you a context feeling of that,
our total global aid to the Third World is estimated at about $50 billion a
year. So what we're talking about is to spend three to seven times the
amount of global development aid every year into the 21st Century to help
the developed world postpone their problems for six years. Is that a good
idea? Well, to give you another feel of that is to say for the cost of Kyoto
for just one year we could solve the single biggest problem in the world. We
could give clean drinking water and sanitation to every single being on
earth. That would save about two million lives from being lost every year.
It would save about half a billion people from getting seriously ill every

So the idea here is to say would we be able to spend that money better and
help the developing world better by spending that money elsewhere, which is
really what a cost-benefit analysis does. It goes in and says (to) ask the
essential questions, and say just because there is a problem here, if we can
only act on the margins -- mainly what we do is Kyoto, but it'll do very
little good very far into the future, and on the other hand it'll be
incredibly costly - now, is that a good idea? And actually that is the

I'm just going to show you one of the cost-benefit analyses - there've been
14 to 21 depending a little bit how you count them, but all of them come to
the substantially same conclusion, namely that Kyoto or anything close to
that just does not pay. The point here is to say the total cost of global
warming if we don't do anything is likely to be around $5 trillion. Notice
there's way too many numbers here. It's just simply because that's our
central estimate right here. I mean there's nobody who knows it's $4.82
trillion, I mean it's in that ballpark area, but the idea of course is to
say what we're trying to do is to compare different numbers here. And that
comparison is broadly true, although of course it varies from different
models. ... This is the Nordhaus model from 2000. If we do something about
global warming in the sense of saying ... there are places where we can cut
carbon dioxide emissions fairly cheaply we should do that -- that's about 4
to 11% over the century -- then we will save a little bit of money.
Basically we can cut down the cost of global warming slightly in the sense
of incurring some costs now and avoiding some costs down the road. That's
$0.3 trillion dollars we can save. The important point, of course, is to say
if we do Kyoto or something even worse -- and some say we want to do
stabilization of emissions on the entire planet, that is also getting the
developing world in on it -- then the cost almost doubles. The idea here is
to say we'll incur a great cost right now, but we will still get most of the
problems down the line. We'll just be postponing them a little bit. And in
that sense it's just saying it doesn't pay.

And this is not a consequence of the economist tweaking the models. It just
simply comes from the very basic fact of saying is it worth an enormous
amount of money now to only postpone the problems for about six years, but
still having to pay all of it only six years later. In that sense it comes
out even no matter how you tweak the model, you really have to change the
parameters very, very dramatically in order to make that come out as
anything else. But, no, it does not pay off. ... If we want to limit
temperature growth at 1.5 degrees for instance, then we can end up having
even higher costs. And in that sense it's also important that ... what
people will typically say is "Well, Kyoto is just the first step." That's
probably true in what most people actually think of in that process. But, of
course, if the first step is a bad step it does not necessarily follow that
a lot of those steps will be a good idea. ... What cost-benefit analyses
have shown ... the cost will actually be even higher if we try to do more
than Kyoto. So in that sense the idea here is to say it's just simply a bad
way of helping the Third World. We end up spending an enormous amount of
money doing almost no good. And my argument is again to say that we have as
scientists a responsibility to point out, I think, that we could spend that
money much, much better, do much more good, for instance giving clean
drinking water ...and sanitation to the entire planet. And that's (spending)
only ... the cost of Kyoto in 2010. In 2011 we can do something almost as
good again.

So the idea here is why don't we do that instead? And that's one of the
central arguments I would really like to press on David (Sandelow) to
comment about. ... So I'd really like to hear why isn't it we do this kind
of thing? That's an important question to ask. And the idea here is also ...
basically to say let's just get a feel for what are the important issue
areas here.

Global warming is going to cost about $5 trillion. Just to give you a feel
of it. The total worth of the 21st Century by the IPCC's estimates is about
$900 trillion. So global warming is not a trivial issue. That's a fair
proportion of the total worth of the 21st Century. But it's important to say
by the IPCC's own admission the cost of not, for instance, making sure that
world trade organizations work -- that we don't get free trade; that we end
up in a regionalized economy (because) ... we end up worrying a lot about
the environment may actually be a cost of anywhere from $107 to $240
trillion. This could actually leave the average person in the developing
world with about 75% less income than he would otherwise have had. And we
have to ask ourselves isn't that a much more important issue?

So the idea here is to say yes, $5 trillion dollars is a great deal of
money. We'd love that not to be there, but basically what we can do about it
is about $0.3 trillion dollars. We should do that. That's a lot of money. We
should certainly do that. But we should also realize this is not at all
where the major issue of the 21st Century stands. It is actually by the
IPCC's own scenarios, it's the cost of saying if we do not ensure a global
and economically focused economy we could end up losing $107 to $240
trillion. That's upwards of 25% of the total worth of the 21st Century. That
is the much bigger challenge for the 21st Century. It's just as important.
This is basically an environmental discussion, so obviously that's what I'm
going to focus on, but it's important to say that there's just simply much,
much more important areas.

Now, so, if this is actually true -- things have been getting better,
they're likely to go better in the future, it's not like they're going to be
undercut by pollution, and (as) we look ahead to the problems, there it's
not like global warming is going to kick the legs away under us -- it's
going to be a problem that we need to address in the sense of how do we
solve the world's problem the best? And we also have to ask ourselves what
is the cost of our extra worry. And I just want to show you that last study
from the Harvard University, their risk analysis study, where they went in
and looked at the official cost estimates of saving human lives, where this
was the primary policy goal.

Now notice a lot of environmental legislation does not have as a primary
purpose to save human lives. If we're talking about saving the Bengal tiger,
it probably has the opposite effect, right? [laughter] But the idea here is
to say a lot of issue areas we do have as the primary stated public policy
goal (is) to save human lives. And then we can go in and say, "OK, how well
do we do that?" When we talk about environment and when we talk about a lot
of other issue areas -- this is as far as I know by far the largest study
that we have in the world and probably reputable for most parts of the
Western world -- what is the cost efficiency of saving human lives? That is
the stated purpose in different working areas.

Now I'm going to summarize eleven people's work for three years -- it's
several thousands of pages of reports -- I'm just going to show you one
picture, right? [laughter] But it's actually true in the sense that the
background distributions are fair in the sense that we're just presenting
the median cost of what does it cost to save one human life in one year in
these different areas. And what they come up with is that in the health area
it costs about $19,000 to save one human life one year. Whether that is
cheap or not, whether we should do it or not, is obviously a policy
decision. Do we want to do that or do we want to buy something else for that
money? That's a policy decision. But, what we can say is that's a typical
cost of saving one human life one year in the health area. For the
residential areas it's about $36,000. For transport area it's $56,000. For
work-related areas it's $350,000. And for the environment it's $4.2 million
to save one human life one year. What we could also call this graph is: Spot
the bad decision here. [laughter] ... Notice this does not mean that there
are not good things to be done in the environment. It just means that on
average or in the typical case is that we actually end up spending an
enormous amount more to save human lives here than saving them over there
when that is the stated purpose.

Why is it that we choose to save a human life two hundred times more here in
the health area, or to put it differently why is it we choose to sacrifice
199 people in the health area for saving one person in the environmental
area? And this does actually have consequences. They can calculate for about
300 of these interventions, they could calculate what was the total cost. It
was about $21 billion saving about 60,000 human lives. ... Had these been
spent optimally you could have saved about 120,000 people.

So the point is to say you could have saved 60,000 people for free, or if
you want to put it a little more sharply, the current prioritization
actually commits 60,000 statistical murders every year. This is not a
frivolous point. It's to point out that the current prioritization has
dramatic consequences, and we have to face up to the fact that just only
saying we do good, a lot of green movements will tell you hey, yeah, (but at
least we're helping people. That's true. But). I mean can you imagine
spending a billion dollars and not make somebody happy? [laughter] I mean
the idea here is to say it does not make sense to just say, "Sure, we spent
a billion dollars and we made somebody happy." What the argument should be
is: "We spent a billion dollars and we made as many people as possible
happy." And that is what this indicates we're not doing right now. And that
I would surmise is partly because we have that litany of worry that we
actually do believe that the earth is coming to an end. We feel that we have
the gun to our heads and that means that we end up spending unwisely.

And so this is my conclusion and then I'll end. This is why it's important
to know the real state of the world. Basically things are getting better and
better and they're likely to do so in the future. This does not mean that
there are no problems, there are no worries, just go ahead, pollute the
environment. That's not, emphatically not, what it means. But it does mean
that we should realize that the problems are getting fewer and smaller and
that we need to prioritize correctly. And this also, of course, means that I
would like to ask my critics to focus not just on specific issues where
things are going worse.

Yes, this is a large world. There are lots of problems out there. There are
lots of places where things are not going well. There are lots of stupid
decisions made around the world every day probably. But the idea here is to
say on average in the total for all the relevant regions, all the relevant
places, you can say on average things are actually improving. And then we
have to ask ourselves so where are the critical issues where we can point to
the general negative trends that will undercut this or, on the other hand,
say if this is actually true, then. first of all, we have to point out
things are in general getting better. And then we also have to start getting
much, much better at prioritizing correctly, because that is actually what
will make it possible for us not only to hand over a better world, but to
hand over the best possible world to our kids and grandkids in the sense
that we are giving them even more opportunities, that we are giving them an
even better world. This does not mean there are no problems, but it does
mean that we can do even better if we have the real state of the planet.

Copyright 2001, Tech Central Station



>From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny

See Scientific American
Climate Changes Coincide with Cultural Shifts in Ancient American Southwest

Also (on a lighter note) the 2001 IgNobel Awards:


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