Is too much financial attention being paid to climate change?

No clearly not. Or maybe yes, depending on how you look at it.

Your answer depends on how you decide to order the priorities you support, which is not easy when you consider the global challenges we face.

This article from the Financial Times makes an interesting, if not new, point.

In case you can’t access it (damn publishers and their subscription fees 🙂 here’s an extract:

“In an annual letter released on Monday through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropic organisation, Mr Gates expresses caution over the $100bn (€71bn, £62bn) in extra pledges by rich countries made to the developing world by 2020 at December’s Copenhagen climate summit.

He wrote: “If just 1 per cent of the $100bn goal came from vaccine funding, then 700,000 more children could die from preventable diseases. In the long run, not spending on health is a bad deal for the environment because improvements in health, including voluntary family planning, lead people to have smaller families, which in turn reduces the strain on the environment.””

Bjorn Lomborg has made the same point for years. It’s worth bearing in mind.

To be fair to Gates, he does believe in investing in low carbon technology. So it’s not as if he (or Lomborg) are climate change deniers.

It’s a question of how priorities get skewed as politicians react to headlines. Climate change is a hot topic, whilst vaccines and healthcare are older, complex, less headline friendly issues.

The health vs. climate change debate (ideally we do both, in a balanced way) is a bit like the question of whether pouring aid alone into disaster zones such as Haiti is the best idea.

The long term approach is to encourage jobs and institutional development, (which lead to better building standards, for example) rather than ignore the country until disaster strikes.

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