Sunday, December 27, 2009

To Save the Planet, Save the Seas

The New York Times opinion editorial "To Save the Planet, Save the Seas" (Decmeber 26th, 2009), fails to provide a marginal cost-benefit analysis of the preservation solution to the climate change problem.
Few people may realize it, but in addition to producing most of the oxygen we breathe, the ocean absorbs some 25 percent of current annual carbon dioxide emissions. Half the world’s carbon stocks are held in plankton, mangroves, salt marshes and other marine life. So it is at least as important to preserve this ocean life as it is to preserve forests, to secure its role in helping us adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Even if 99 percent of the world's carbon stocks were held in marine life, it may not be prudent to spend tax revenues on their "preservation." For example, if it were much more expensive to preserve marine life than forest life, we should spend money on preserving forest life until the benefit from the next dollar spent on forest life is lower than the benefit from the next dollar spent on preserving marine life. Without knowing the relative costs of preservation, no prescription can be offered.

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