Saturday, March 12, 2005
Awhile back a bunch of famous economists got together to analyze various proposals to solve global crises such as AIDS, malnutrition, poverty, climate change, etc... The assumption was for a certain amount of money (I believe they chose 50 billion a year), what is the best use of funds. They evaluated the 17 top projects out of many more which were submitted to the conference and ranked those projects. The results were interesting if not surprising. At the top of the list was control of HIV/AIDS which had a return on investment of over 40 (1 Billion spent would lead to over 40 billion in additional savings), followed by a micronutrient project to prevent malnutrition, followed by trade liberalization, followed by the control of malaria. The projects that were considered very poor investments were migration (granting guest-worker visas to the unskilled) and three climate change projects (Kyoto being one of these).
So the next time somebody yells at you about the US not signing off on the Kyoto protocol and say "the real tragedy isn't that the US didn't sign off on Kyoto, it's that we aren't doing more on HIV/AIDS which would yield tremendously better results for much less money."
Check out the website for this conference, called the Copenhagen Consensus.