Lomborg: Humans Will Adapt to Climate Change

Here’s the latest from Bjørn​ Lomborg, in which he criticizes the IPCC for ignoring adaptation in their financial models. The opener:

THE media’s response to the latest installment of the UN Climate Panel report will inevitably dwell on the negative effects of global warming — how it will reduce agricultural yields, increase heatwaves and drown communities.

Those stories will be correct, if only in a limited sense of that word. So while reading them, it is worth stepping back and realising that they provide just a partial version of the global warming story.

Yes, global warming is real, it is partly man-made and it’s a long-term problem we must address. But describing it in one-sided, vaguely apocalyptic terms won’t help us find solutions. For example, a previous edition of the UN Climate Panel summary told us rising sea levels, which are indeed happening, would deliver “potential damages to infrastructure in coastal areas …” projected to cost “tens of billions of dollars for individual countries, for example Egypt, Poland, and Vietnam”. Yet while laying out the possibility, they neglect to tell us that these losses will not occur.

Why not? The summary ignored the role of adaptation. For Egypt, the $35 billion estimate came from simply allowing 30 per cent of Egypt’s second biggest city, Alexandria, to be inundated over a 100 years, without the government taking action. That isn’t realistic.

For Poland, $28-46 billion equally came from allowing cities and farmland to be flooded by an extreme 100cm rise in sea level. The Polish analysis, however, showed that even full protection against the extreme flooding would cost much lower than $6.1 billion and with a lower sea level increase of 30cm, the full protection cost would total $2.3 billion.

Will Poland spend $2-6 billion to avoid $28-46 billion in damages? Of course they will. They will adapt just as we have done for most of humanity’s history. This does not mean there are no problems — sea level rise will cause problems, but at $2-6 billion, not $48 billion.

The rest here.

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