It has been estimated by economists at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Ireland that using carbon cuts to limit the increase in global temperature could reduce world GDP by almost 12.9% in 2100 and cost as much as $40 trillion annually. At the same time, the majority of economic models suggest that unconstrained global warming could cost rich nations approximately 2% of GDP and poor countries about 5% by 2100. It is not difficult to see that the equation is not balanced! Even if all industrialized nations could somehow succeed in meeting the drastic carbon emission cuts, it would come at a hugh sacrifice to prosperity. It would seem the solution appears to be far more costly than the problem. Or put in another way, perhaps the cure could actually be more painful than the illness!
The question that needs to be asked is whether there may be another, more sensible way to respond to climate change. Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center in Denmark, believes there is and what he is saying deserves consideration in my view. First, let me say that Dr. Lomborg believes global warming is a serious, man-made problem. However, before staggering sums are spent that will in his view do little to address the problem, he believes we should consider alternatives that could cost far less and achieve far more. Perhaps at the risk of over-simplification, I will attempt to paraphrase in more detail what Dr. Lomborg believes. It is my understanding he believes: (1) it is not necessary to drastically and at significant cost cut carbon emissions to achieve no more than a 2 degrees Celsius global temperature increase by 2100 - moreover, he does not even believe it is possible; (2) we should continue doing what can reasonably be done using much less expensive policies to reduce carbon emissions such as improving energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy sources; (3) we should directly address today the potential problems that may in the future be created by global warming; and (4) we need to dramatically increase funding for non-carbon energy R&D through international agreement and eventually the results of this research will allow us to shift away from carbon-heavy energy much faster.