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Thomas Schelling, 2005 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, visits Iran



Dr Thomas Schelling: There is no known pattern of forcing the governments to control the emission of the greenhouse gases; the impact of the global warming will primarily affect the developing countries.


Thomas Schelling at Tehran's Sharif University, December 2007 - The winner of 2005 noble prize warned against the consequences of the emission of greenhouse gases and said the underdeveloped countries will be badly affected by the results, because about three fourth of the world's population are now living in these countries and it is predicted that this rate would reach seven eighth of the population by the end of the century.


According to scientific reporter of ISNA (Iranian Students' News Agency, Dr Thomas Schelling, professor of Maryland University and winner of the 2005 Nobel prize, who was invited to Iran by Sharif University for a ten day visit, said in a meeting about Greenhouse effects: The global warming is a complex process in which the earth becomes warmer because it absorbs more energy and heat than it reflects. Some atmospheric gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide, absorb infra red waves; the volume and density of these gases are increasing and as a result more light and energy is absorbed.


The member of the US Academy of Science, who has written several books on the environment and energy issues, pointed to the fact that the effects of emission of greenhouse gases has different impacts on different countries. He said: In countries where the population is dependent upon agriculture, the climate change might have devastating effects. The consequences of the changes in the climate would affect the generations to come in the underdeveloped world.



He added: As most diseases spread in warm weather, the health of the people living in warm areas are more exposed to illnesses.


He said: The vulnerability of these areas is much larger compared to the developed world. The future generation in these regions do not have the necessary resources to fight and adapt to climatic changes. All they can do is to prevent the effects of such changes.


Dr Schelling said: The answer to the question about how to fight the impacts of climate change is simply development. Malaria kills three million people a year, but there is no sign of Malaria in the US, Canada and Western Europe. It was endemic in those countries a hundred years ago, but now the disease shows itself only in tropical regions.


He continued: There have been vast efforts on the international level to restrict the production of greenhouse gases, but there is no guarantee for them to be implemented. Two thousand American economists signed a declaration and urged the countries around the globe to reduce their gas emissions.



The winner of the Nobel Prize, who did not sign the above statement, said: I believe that there should be an incentive for countries to comply which such rules. There should be a consensus about the permitted amount of carbon dioxide which each country is allowed to produce. As we do not have such an assessment the above measures would not be effective.


This prominent American economist criticised the policies of the American government in this respect and said: If powerful countries produce more carbon dioxide than what they were permitted to produce, there is no mechanism to punish them or restrict them. He insisted that historically there is no example of an international system of distribution of the allowed amount of carbon dioxide production by each country and a system of punishment for those who do not regards their limitations.




The winner of the Nobel Prize added: Even if all these issues were resolved, then the question remains as to how distribute the amount of 0.5, one or two trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide production permission among 200 different countries? Although there are suggestions about the methods to do such a distribution, but any such agreement needs negotiation between all these 200 countries. He said he didn't believe that the WTO is a suitable organisation to establish the norms for such a distribution and said that NATO would be a better model.


Dr Schelling added: There are many unknown issues in the global warming process which are unpredictable. There are doubts about the future of Golf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean and similar issues about the temperature changes in Europe or the developments of the Southern Pole.



He said: An interesting approach which can be used in distant future is to find ways of reflecting pollutant gases back into the atmosphere. This may be a solution to control the greenhouses gases.


He added: The above method requires a change in life style of the people of the earth. Instead of discussing the share of each country in producing carbon dioxide one should discuss the share of each country in funding this project.




At the end of the meeting Dr Sohrabpur gave the scientific badge of Sharif University to the winner of the Nobel Prize.


Original article published in Persian by ISNA.
Translated for by BMarz translators:


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