Monday, September 6, 2010

Climate Change and Mobile Technology

Foreign Policy have a really interesting interview on climate change by Bjorn Lomborg.

FP: In 2005, you wrote in Foreign Policy that those of us in the rich world have reached the point where we can afford to think about the environment, whereas the developing world really can't. If we're talking about a research and development solution, isn't that really just a developed world solution? Is there some sort of role for the developing world in this also?

BL: I think we need to own up to the fact that the developing world has much more important priorities. We're unaware that half the world's population still lacks simple things like food and education and water and sanitation and health care. Worrying about global warming [that will happen] 100 years from now is a slight luxury to those people. It doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, but it means that we should also recognize that there are many other things we should be focusing on.
The only real climate policy that we have right now is the EU 2020 policy -- that they're going to reduce [emissions by] 20 percent below the 1990 levels by 2020. The cost is about $250 billion. Let me give you a better way to spend that money. If we spent $100 billion on research and development into green energy, we would do much, much more good. If the EU continues to spend $250 billion for the rest of century, they will reduce temperatures by 0.1 degree Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Wow! I'm really sure our descendents are going to be really really happy.
If we invested that $100 billion dollars [in research] there's a good chance we will be able to cut maybe two degrees Fahrenheit off the temperature by the end of the century. Then, we should invest about $50 billion in different ways to adapt to climate change -- that's of course especially [important] in the Third World, to make sure that they can actually deal with climate change. And then I propose that we should spend about $1 billion dollars in research and development into geoengineering to make sure that we have an insurance policy if something really bad is lurking in the corners of climate-change research. The last $100 billion should be spent on fixing all of the other problems in the world: Give clean drinking water, sanitation, basic healthcare and education to virtually everyone on the planet. We could do that for about $100 billion a year.


The M-Banking Revolution

Why cell phones will do more for the developing world than laptops ever could.

Amie Zimmerman a director Global Assets Project at the New America Foundation
and Jamie Holmes a program associate puts forward the case of  cell phones.

The potential positive economic effects in Kenya alone are striking: this year, Safaricom projects it will transfer the equivalent of 20 percent of Kenya's GDP through M-Pesa. One scholar who has studied M-Pesa, Olga Morawczynski of the University of Edinburghestimates that rural households that are mobile money subscribers see their incomes increase 5 to 30 percent. And though an increase in income is often only a short-term poverty solution, savings and asset-building, as encouraged by programs like M-Kesho, move people toward sustainable economic independence in the long term. Plus, the interest on loans through such programs is usually far lower than what you'd get with an informal moneylender, meaning that the risk of accruing debt is minimal.

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