Economics of Sustainability Goals


Bjorn Lomborg leads a team that uses economics to determine the best way to save the planet. He introduces the idea of rank ordering the UN's sustainable development goals using a cost benefit analysis; with every dollar you put in you can do this amount of good, so where do you get the most out of your dollar? Stretching our dollar across 169 targets that the UN has works much less efficiently than focusing all our money on the top goal(s). For example, one of the most efficient ways the UN could currently spend money is by allocating it to child nutrition. For every $1 spent, it would do $20 of good. Why is this? Because good child nutrition leads to better brain development, therefore better education, and therefore improvement in many other areas related to sustainable development. Whereas, were spending to be done on carbon reduction, every $1 spent would result in perhaps $0.03 of good. Bjorn Lomborg describes it much better than me and you can listen to him explain it here

Furthermore, one hundred years ago nobody imagined the internet,  or many other technologies, materials, and even systems we have today. So why invest our current resources in something that will be irrelevant in 100 years? In the 1914 world fair journalists asked people what they expected the world would look like in 100 hundred years. Many people were off by a long shot, the closest to reality the predictions got was that someone predicted we could send mail around the world in seconds using vacuum tubes. E-mail is also pretty fast. Interestingly, almost nobody interviewed wanted to be around 100 years later.  Finally, it is my belief that we don't know what the future will bring therefore the best thing we can do is to invest in educating good problem solvers.