Cost Benefit Analysis

There hasn’t been such a clear cut case of the smashing of dissent in a long time as there has been with the global warming debate. I read Discover Magazine every month, and they always have a blurb or a full article that mentions the phenomenon. Anyone that 1. questions if the Earth is warming due to anthropogenic causes or, 2. questions that slowing our economy down drastically may not be the right course of action is shouted down as a stooge of the oil companies. So much for free speech and healthy debate, I guess.

George Will in Newsweek writes about the issue, and does so in his normal cut-to-the-chase manner. He brings up the most obvious question that no one in a position of authority is talking about: is attempting to fix this problem worth it? This isn’t a no-brainer, no matter what you might have heard. Estimates on how much it will warm and how much we’d have to cut back to have any effect on the warming has varied by ridiculous numbers. When taking on a huge project like this, you absolutely need to run a cost-benefit analysis and then the public needs to decide if it’s worth the pain, whatever it might be.

I know that some people would throw up their arms in disgust at the thought, but think about this: if you could save 100 children a year from an early death of some exotic disease, but it would cost the government a billion dollars a child, is it worth it? The cold fact is that it’s not. If you had decided that you did have 100 billion to spend on saving kids (as many on the Left would surely agree to), you could certainly get more for you buck by spending elsewhere. The same process needs to happen with any public effort to adjust planetary surface temperature fluctuation.

How much is it going to cost? What is gained by not doing anything, such as less heating needs in extreme climes? How does that adjust the balance? What are the chances that some future scientific breakthrough will enable us to fix or adjust to the changes much more cheaply? These are the questions that either aren’t getting asked, or cannot be answered, and without these answers, it’s irresponsible to be committing ourselves to the kind of sacrifice that some of the political class has been talking about.

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