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Climate control an investment in the future

Lisa Bunn | Thursday, October 18, 2007

A basic principle of micro-economics is that resources are limited. As a nation, we have limited resources to fund many needs. Matt Gore, in “Climate control not best use of funds,”Oct. 10, said climate control should not be ranked higher than other issues. He makes the argument that nations should focus on disease prevention instead because averting climate change will carry high costs with few benefits. This statement leads Gore to conclude that “a realistic comparison of these costs would show that in reality climate change is among the least of humanity’s problems.” I strongly disagree.

As concluded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their Fourth Assessment Report and the Stern Review, climate change will have far-reaching impacts from sea-level rise to more severe weather patterns. One of the many consequences will be the spread of and increased resilience of many diseases, including malaria.

Today, we can already see the impacts of climate change. Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh have already been forced to leave their homes because of unusually high floods due to changing monsoon patterns. The government is struggling to avoid food shortages and outbreaks of water-borne diseases. Humankind’s affect on climate is real and with us to stay. We must not wait to see how drastic these changes become before we take action.

To postpone action addressing climate change will only exacerbate the costs to us in the future. Renewable energy technologies may be expensive today, but these industries are growing at unprecedented rates. With increasing research and development, these industries will develop to produce reliable and affordable clean energy technologies.

Another person who advocates increased spending on green research and development is Bjorn Lomberg, Director of the “Copenhagen Consensus,” and Al Gore’s apparent source of information. In an article published earlier this year, Lomberg states “investing in the research and development of non-carbon-emitting energy technologies [which] would leave future generations able to make serious and yet economically feasible and advantageous cuts. A new global warming treaty should mandate spending 0.05 percent of GDP on research and development in the future” (Global Warming’s Dirty Secret).

Indeed, this focus on research and development is exactly what Notre Dame is funding in various departments, and what Energy Week emphasized. Energy Week, which concluded Saturday, was an attempt to raise awareness about current energy use, promote clean energy technologies, and increase interest in energy conservation and education. To learn more about the Energy Center, visit energycenter.nd.edu

Mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the foremost challenge of our generation. The more we seek to understand, limit, and reduce our impact on the environment, the better off we will all be.

Lisa Bunn


Lewis Hall

Oct. 16