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Bjorn Lomborg — How To Save Humanity

Best Things First (book cover)

World leaders have promised everything to everyone. But they are failing. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are supposed to be delivered by 2030. The goals literally promise everything, like eradicating poverty, hunger and disease, stopping war and climate change, ending corruption, fixing education, along with countless other promises. This year, the world is at halftime for its promises, but nowhere near halfway. Together with more than a hundred of the world’s top economists, Bjorn Lomborg has worked for years to identify the world’s best solutions. Based on 12 new, peer-reviewed papers, forthcoming in Cambridge University Press’ Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Lomborg’s latest book highlights the world’s best policies.

Some things are difficult to fix, cost a lot, and help little. Other problems we know how to fix, at low cost, with remarkable outcomes. We should do the smart things first.

Governments and philanthropists should focus on these 12 smartest things. Fix tuberculosis, malaria, and chronic disease, tackle malnutrition, improve education, increase trade, implement e-procurement, and secure land tenure. This will improve the world amazingly. The cost is $35 billion a year. The benefits include saving 4.2 million lives each year and generating $1.1 trillion more for the world’s poor. The cost of $35 billion is equivalent to the increase in annual global spending on cosmetics over the last two years. This is likely the best thing the world can do this decade.

Bjorn Lomborg is an academic and the author of the best-selling The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It. He is a visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School, and president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center which brings together top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates, to set data-driven priorities for the world. Lomborg is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in 19 languages, in 30+ newspapers with more than 30 million readers globally. Follow him on twitter @BjornLomborg.

Shermer and Lomborg discuss:

  • perfect solutions vs. practical trade-offs
  • benefit-cost analysis
  • time horizons and discounting the future
  • the value of a statistical life
  • what are we trying to do? save the environment, the poor, the diseased?
  • the millennium development goals
  • the sustainable development goals
  • tuberculosis
  • education
  • maternal and newborn health
  • agricultural R&D (more and cheaper food)
  • malaria
  • land tenure security
  • nutrition
  • chronic diseases
  • childhood immunization
  • corruption
  • more trade
  • highly skilled migration.

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This episode was released on August 8, 2023.

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