Professor advocates seeking practical solutions over panic

Dylan Boyle

When it comes to global warming, the global population needs to stop “letting scientists put a gun to our heads” and “start thinking smarter,” said a prominent professor.

Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus, laid out his arguments for “smarter solutions” to the problems of climate change for approximately 150 people Tuesday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. Lomborg is the author of “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming.”

“Global warming is real and man-made,” Lomborg said. “But we are not being presented with balanced evidence and we don’t have to act in desperation.”

Lomborg spoke about his optimistic view of global warming, stating “it’s a problem, but not the end of mankind.” He said that, instead of dreading what is going to happen, we need to start asking what can we actually do about the problem.

Lomborg thanked former Vice President Al Gore for bringing light to the issue of global warming but said Gore is causing a lot of fear regarding global warming.

“We need to get a sense of proportion,” Lomborg said. “Very often, we are told the world is going to hell and we have to act right now.

“This is drastically misleading and, if it’s not true, it’s unlikely to make the good policy judgment.”

Lomborg said it would be much more economical to spend money treating the effects of global warming and the other problems of the world than it would be to spend money trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“We can spend $180 billion on the Kyoto treaty, that will only offset global warming by 7 days, or we can spend $75 billion on clean drinking water, sanitation and give basic healthcare and education to every person on the planet,” Lomborg said. “We need to spend our money wisely and do the best things first.”

Lomborg said one thing that could be done to stop climate change is to invest more into research to help make solar panels more affordable for the average person.

“Solar panels, right now, cost 10 times the amount of fossil fuels. That means a few rich people in the rich world will have solar panels on their rooftops,” Lomborg said. “We need to make solar panels much cheaper – only that way will we get a lot of people in the developed world to join in, and only that way would we get China and India to jump on board.”

Lomborg’s solution includes ignoring another Kyoto treaty and having every country invest .05 percent of its gross domestic product into non-carbon-emitting technologies to make them cheaper.

“A lot of this is not a climate problem, it’s a poverty problem,” Lomborg said, while citing the example of malaria and how spending money on combating it will save more lives than spending money on carbon sequestering.

Lomborg said the bottom line is not debating the point of whether global warming exists, but debating the route we take to create a cleaner and better world.

“We need to hear the full story,” Lomborg said. “There are smarter solutions, but they’re not part of the conversation we are currently having.”