Cliff May

Bjorn Lomborg, an environmentalist and professor at the Copenhagen Business School, points out that three million people die a year from malnutrition – and hundreds of millions of children suffer reduced mental and physical abilities because of “unsexy-sounding ‘micronutrient deficiency’ – a lack of iodine, vitamin A and iron.”

Many essential nutrients can be made available “in staple food items such as genetically modified golden rice” (assuming we can get the anti-biotech neo-Luddites to butt out). In addition, iron cooking pots, which slowly emit iron, could be distributed in poor countries. Lomborg says spending 25 cents for each individual suffering from iron deficiency can yield $50 per person in productivity gains -- a healthy return on investment in more than one sense.

Among the “solutions” that strike me as preposterous: Harvard’s Howard Gardner wants the government to confiscate excessive income and excess net worth in the interest of reducing economic inequality. Politicians and professors will, of course, define how much is too much.

Lt. Gen. William Odom (Ret.), a Yale professor, argues that the U.S. should make Iran’s radical theocrats feel less “insecure” by not opposing their acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Bill McKibben of Middlebury College wants to slow global warming with “large-scale technological and social change, with the investments of financial and political capital that such shifts imply. Even if we muster the will, we won’t solve the problem.” In other words: Do as he tells you but don’t expect any good to come of it.

I’m unconvinced also by the assertion of Stanford’s Paul Saffo that Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea will, as he claims, stall global warming, feed the poor and prevent terrorism.

Stephen Lewis, a former U.N. envoy, is gung-ho for the creation of a “new international agency for women,” based at the U.N., with “at least a billion dollars annually to begin with” to push for gender equality. Want to bet that a Saudi prince won’t be elected chairman?

Still, we shouldn’t be too hard on these guys. They’re doing some heavy lifting. Thinking is no racket for sissies.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.