- W Wu
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How can we justify implementing solutions based on their price tag set out by economists?
I agree with what you have to say about setting the right priorities in a world where we only have limited resources to deal with a limited number of problems. However, is it wise to see everything from an immediate short-term perspective? From what you state in your video, we should “do the great things we can do at low cost right now”. Included in the list of “great things” to do is prevention of HIV/AIDS and iron fortification in the malnourished. However, we can’t just assume that the short-term priorities will solve the many future disastrous issues. For example, if a country (i.e. the Maldives and Bangladesh) will be flooded within the next century, should we not divert some of the $50 billion dollars in creating flood barriers, artificial islands, or simply educating the poor so that they might eventually find a solution that we never thought about? What’s the point in increasing the productivity of agriculture where the land would be permanently flooded in the future? For that matter, how do you put a price on any issue like climate change? If by giving mosquito nets to the people in need can generate 5 times the worth of buying the nets, then wouldn’t investing in R&D in earthquake/tsunami detecting machinery reveal even greater profits/returns? The cost of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami was $300+ billion and that cost is overwhelming in comparison to the $50 billion allotted the Copenhagen Consensus. In a group of 30 students where we were told to choose the one global issue that our world should prioritize, there was a wide range of answers, ranging from global security to women. So my question is, despite having the world’s top economists and students from developing countries come together, how do we justify that our solution will truly benefit everyone in need?