Saturday, December 12, 2009


For those of you who missed the debut of John Stossel's new show this week:

Missing, unfortunately, is an exchange between Jerry Taylor and a young woman in the audience, in which she asks about the costs of climate change, citing drought in Africa and shifting rain patterns taking place there. Taylor responds that drought is usually taking place somewhere around the world, and notes that the worst figure he has ever seen for the human costs of climate change in a peer reviewed paper is a death toll of around 170,000.

Taylor contrasts this figure with the millions of people who died each year because of malnutrition, poor drinking water and indoor air pollution from burning biomass for heat and cooking, rather than using electricity. These, he contends, are much more pressing problems which would only be exacerbated due to higher energy costs which result from anti-climate change measures and make life more expensive.

The woman then disagrees, stating that climate change would increase deaths related to malnutrition and disease, citing factors such as lower crop yields and a more hospitable climate for mosquitoes which spread malaria. Taylor notes the real problem is not climate change, but extreme poverty. He points out that in Singapore both malaria and malnutrition are almost unknown, while 20 miles away in Malaysia both are real problems. He further notes that upstate New York had cases of malaria until the turn of the 19th century, but that increasing wealth -- and the use of DDT -- have eliminated this problem.

The real solution to problems associated with climate change? Get rich. Economic liberalization, however, is certainly not on the menu at Copenhagen.

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