Wealth Protects Better Against Natural Disasters

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on May 8, 2008

in Blog

From The Locker Room:

If the same category four cyclone (or "hurricane" in the Atlantic) hit an industrialized country, the storm would have been harmful but not even remotely close to the devastation that exists today in Myanmar.

This tragedy doesn't provide ammunition for global warming (category four cyclones aren't unique), but for the need for countries and their citizens to develop better infrastructure, build better buildings, have better emergency services, etc.

The only way these changes will happen is if poor countries are able to generate the wealth necessary to make the changes. The only way for the U.S. to better protect itself against hurricanes is to ensure that we continue to be a wealthy country.

Al and friends instead want to tell third world countries that the single most critical factor to develop wealth, low-cost energy, should be prohibited. They want to adopt policies that would keep the poor countries poor and put wealthy countries on a path to poverty.

The Beacon Hill Institute examined the impact that policies being considered by the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change would have on North Carolina. Please recognize that these policies wouldn't even come close to what the zealots want in terms of reductions in carbon dioxide. Policies include a cap and trade program, taxes on driving, taxes on electricity use, etc.

From the press release: “By 2011, the state would shed more than 33,000 jobs,” according to the report from the Beacon Hill Institute, the research arm of the economics department at Boston’s Suffolk University. “Annual investment would drop by about $502.4 million, real disposable income by more than $2.2 billion, and real state Gross Domestic Product by about $4.5 billion.”

When the Beacon Hill Instutute presented this data to the Commission, there wasn't a dispute about the numbers. Those trying to argue weren't concerned with the actual loss of jobs and the devastation on the economy, but instead were pointing out that this is a price that needs to be paid.

North Carolina, the U.S. and for that matter the entire globe have to make choices. We can choose to adopt policies that would have no effect (PDF) on temperature and have devastating effects on our economy and our ability to prepare for major storms or we can choose to be sensible and do all we can to ensure that public policy doesn't undermine countries from having the wealth necessary to protect themselves from natural disasters.

I'm inclined to favor the latter option, but that's just me.

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