May 18, 2012

"This week saw the announcement of the latest conclusions of the Copenhagen Consensus..."

"... a project founded by Bjørn Lomborg in which expert economists write detailed papers every four years and then gather to vote on the answer to a simple question: Imagine you had $75 billion to donate to worthwhile causes. What would you do, and where should we start?"

The consensus...

"The smartest way to benefit the most disadvantaged people is to get them vitamins and minerals."

Isn't it time to release the "golden rice"?

25 comments:

David said...

All great innovations were achieved by consensus, right?

Bob Ellison said...

I'm a fan of Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus. He has written about another Consensus item: one of the most efficient uses of money aimed at improving people's lives in third-world countries is making clean water available.

MnMark said...

If this scandinavian, Lomborg, picks his "economic experts" like the Norwegians pick Nobel prize winners, I could not be less interested in what they have to say.

But "give the poor vitamins and minerals" sounds like the kind of crap a bunch of left-wing "economists" would come up with. Funded with a new global tax on the "rich", of course.

Tim said...

My name is not on the list.

It is fatally flawed.

They need to start over.

rhhardin said...

It's probably best to burn the money.

They're certain to make something worse if they spend it on a good cause.

Doing good takes deep knowledge and hard work, and there isn't billions worth of deep knowledge to direct things.

Burning the money on the other hand simply returns the money to the economy, where there are lots of people who know what to do with it, in their own areas.

edutcher said...

I thought all the nutritionists were saying taking vitamin supplements was a waste of time.

Or is this another of those "the science is settled things?

Maguro said...

I thought all the nutritionists were saying taking vitamin supplements was a waste of time.

That's true - for people who eat a first-world diet. For third-worlders, vitamin deficiency is a very real issue.

Freeman Hunt said...

That actually sounds like a good idea. That and clean water and that toilet project that Bill Gates is paying people to work on.

sane_voter said...

The third world will only start down the path of leaving that shithole if you leave them alone.

rehajm said...

If this scandinavian, Lomborg, picks his "economic experts" like the Norwegians pick Nobel prize winners,

I strongly suggest you go read Lomborg. You will be pleasantly surprised

Richard Dolan said...

This is nothing new for him. His book, Cool It!, had argued that the expenditure of large sums to reduce carbon emissions was grossly inefficient if the object was to improve the quality of life for the most people. The same investment in basic nutrition and disease prevention programs generated hugely greater returns.

The latest consensus essentially repeats that point, and is really just common sense expressed in economist-speak. What's amazing is how uncommon common sense is among the do-gooder set.

Part of the reason is that so many ostenible do-gooders are mostly interested only in doing good by their particular agenda, which often turns out to be a way of diverting resources (almost never their own) to promoting projects of interest and benefit to them.

Michael K said...

This guy has no interest in genetically altered rice. Tom Clancy wrote about him a decade ago.

Steven said...

Copenhagen Consensus top 5, by year:

2012:

1. Bundled micronutrient interventions to fight hunger and improve education
2. Expanding the Subsidy for Malaria Combination Treatment
3. Expanded Childhood Immunization Coverage
4. Deworming of Schoolchildren, to improve educational and health outcomes
5. Expanding Tuberculosis Treatment

2008:
1. Micronutrient supplements for children (vitamin A and zinc)
2. The Doha development agenda
3. Micronutrient fortification (iron and salt iodization)
4. Expanded immunization coverage for children
5. Biofortification

2004:
1. Control of HIV/AIDS
2. Providing micro nutrients
3. Trade liberalisation
4. Control of malaria
5. Development of new agricultural technologies

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

MnMark,

Really, you need to read up on Lomborg. Or just read him, period.

wyo sis said...

If you're going to throw that money away why not just divide by the number of needy and give each person that much money in their own currency and let them spend it on what they think they need.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Whenever I hear the word "consensus" now my eyes roll. It's the new "weapons of mass destruction".

Jason (the commenter) said...

rhhardin: It's probably best to burn the money.

Now that I think about it, there's something despicable about having a contest to figure out how to spend other people's money.

Drop dead, Scandinavia.

Henry said...

You've got to realize that this is a very useful thought experiment. As in "What could we build instead of windmills? What could we subsidize instead of ethanol?"

I do wonder what the Copenhagen Consensus of 1012 would come up with.

"International trade. Let's go raid England."

"No no no no. We must do more to fight monsters in swamps. And their mothers."

Lem said...

I'd love to change to world

jimbino said...

If I had oodles of dough, I would spend it on the R&D needed to stop all the breeding.

There seems to be no problem, whether war, famine, species extinction, deforestation, overfishing, or global warming that wouldn't be solved by stopping all the breeding. Best would be contraceptives in the water supply or spread with the CO2.

It is a huge waste of resources to keep feeding, housing and otherwise accommodating the wanton breeding, since feeding just causes more breeding.

First we put contraceptives in the bread of the RC priests, padres and their children, of course.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If you're going to throw that money away why not just divide by the number of needy and give each person that much money in their own currency and let them spend it on what they think they need.

Because if you go around the third world handing out money, someone, usually the government, will follow along behind you collecting up the money. If you distribute common nutrients, they are of virtually no value to anyone except the intended recipients. Same with small enough scale sanitation and water project. ( Larger scale project will get stripped for parts / scrap metal. )

One of the nice things about the Copenhagen Consensus is they actually consider these real-world scenarios.

rastajenk said...

If the goal is to help Third World peoples do better, spend it on regime change.

Larry Davis said...

This:

RUFT which is mostly peanut butter, and clean drinking water seems to be the answer.

lemondog said...

Add some chia seeds and, no, not for Chia Pets use.

Wally Kalbacken said...

Bugatti Veyron...station wagon!