August 28, 2007
The global cost of climate-related disasters has increased relentlessly over the past half century. But when former Vice President Al Gore links global warming to the spiraling increase in weather-related insurance costs, he misses the fundamental points, says Bjorn Lomborg, organizer of Copenhagen Consensus and adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School.
- It has become more popular than ever to reside in low-lying, coastal areas that are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather.
- In Florida, more people live in Dade and Broward counties today than lived in all 109 coastal counties from Texas through Virginia in 1930.
- It's obvious that more damage will occur when many more people with much more wealth live in harm's way.
- If coastal populations kept increasing but we managed to halt climate warming, research shows that there would still be a 500 percent increase in hurricane damage in 50 years' time.
- On the other hand, if we let climate warming continue but stopped more people from moving into harm's way, the increase in hurricane damage would be less than 10 percent.
Overall, if the United States and Australia were to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol and its binding restrictions were to last all the way until 2050, very little would be achieved: Hurricane damage would increase by half a percent less than it would without Kyoto.
Source: Bjorn Lomborg, "Storm Surge," Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2007.
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