Bjorn Lomborg on Who the Environmentalists Forgot

bjorn lomborgWhen the headlines told us that the global warming debate was over, it seemed like we environmentalists could breathe a collective sigh of relief. The United States elected a cap-and-trade-sympathetic administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency says it is going to exert some of the “P” in its acronym after it formally labeled carbon dioxide a pollutant last month. So now that the debate is over, has the discussion ended?

Much of what I assumed to be climate consensus has been turned on its head since I moved to the Midwest from New York. Meaning, there a lot of people here in the Middle who care about environmental issues but are not convinced climate change is related to human activities and/or is as dire as predicted. I believe it is. . .and I also believe that in order to get buy-in from such diverse constituents, it’s imperative that we engage in dialog with those who hold differing opinions.

That inspired me to reach out to Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It, who argued last week in a piece the Wall Street Journal that we are becoming victims of the “climate-industrial complex” because businesses that will profit from carbon cutting are saddling up to politicians and are demanding regulations that we’ve been told are coming. Some environmentalists have dismissed Lomborg’s assertions and refused to engage with him but should we kick “other” viewpoints out of the conversation about climate change? Who is the arbiter of what’s valid and what isn’t?

Read the rest, and listen to the interview, at The Huffington Post

Image credit: Emil Jupin and lomborg.com

  1. russ

    Very good Simran Sethi, A boss of mine from years back would sometimes note that ‘you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’.

    I personally have no doubt that man is making a mess of the environment – the billions of us which tends to make it a really big mess.

    As you note lot of people on both sides of the argument are rather strident in their views and the solutions for it – ending up convincing the convinced and patting themselves on the back for work well done.

    Lomborg is correct about the climate-industrial complex in one way – the number of people and industries who have their hand out for federal funds is appalling though not just big business. Save this electric auto maker who has a lousy business plan or give a subsidy/incentive to make the next thing possible. Generally that will be money down the drain.

    Finish coal today! Not gonna happen.

    Stop nuke plants today! Not gonna happen.

    Stop using oil today! Not gonna happen.

    An aggressive but balanced approach to educate people of the necessity while taking in their concerns is important.

  2. robert

    Why? It is pretty clear that he is a minor bit player, that he misapplies statistics. What credibility does he have at this point?

    “Who is the arbiter of what’s valid and what isn’t?”

    The science for one…..

  3. ccpo

    “Lomborg is correct about the climate-industrial complex in one way – the number of people and industries who have their hand out for federal funds is appalling…”

    This point is irrelevant, and for Lomborg, the worst kind of hypocrisy. The denialists/(pseudo)sceptics have long accused the “environmentalists/alarmists” of being deep in the pockets of Big Money. Fact is, there is zero evidence I’ve ever seen of anything approaching an organized attempt to sway opinions toward the science one way or the other… except among the denialists.

    How absurd to make such an accusation when the FACTS behind the Global Climate Coalition (even the name was intended to mislead, eh?), the George C. Marshall Institute, ExxonMobile, Heartland, et al., are well established. These groups have been proven to have used Big Money to present not a contrarian view, but a false one. Naomi Oreskes’ “The American Denial of Global Warming” is shattering, though it tells us nothing ExxonSecrets and the UCC (Smoke and Mirrors) hadn’t already told us. But her presentation and the recent article in the NYTs together finally lay bare the lies upon which the entire edifice of the “contrarian”/denialists schtick is based.

    Where is the same devastating evidence in reverse? I particularly have to laugh at the fact that the denialists made these claims during a time when the Bush/Cheney administration was actively castrating legitimate science in the US!!

    I’m sorry, but Lomborg’s whinging doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    Let us, then, take a look at Lomborg’s work: http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=1262
    “Lomborg argues that 18 years could be too short for a robust trend comparison because of decadal variations in trend – but the 42-year period analysed by IPCC yields the same result. And it is telling that he then goes on to draw an “inescapable” conclusion about a slow-down of sea level rise from just four years of data. This is another well-worn debating trick: confuse the public about the underlying trend by focusing on short-term fluctuations. It’s like claiming spring won’t come if there is a brief cold snap in April.

    Why does Lomborg cite the trend since 2005? Last October, he cited that of the previous two years. Why now four years? Because the trend of the past two years (2007-2008) is now + 3.7 mm/year? It is even worse. The trend since the beginning of any year of the data series varies between 1.6 mm/year and 9.0 mm/year, depending on the start year chosen. Using 2005, Lomborg cherry-picked the by far lowest. He’s done this before, see for example his recent claim that the globe is cooling.”

    And this illustrates other common elements in the denialists’ repertoir: Few of their prominent voices actually do climate science. Many don’t do ANY science. (Soon, Monckton, Singer…) Oh…Lomborg, himself.

    RealClimate on Lomborg: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/07/the-copenhagen-consensus/langswitch_lang/in

    “Thus, I think Lomborg, CC, and/or WSJ are/is sneaky and try to wrap a hidden message (that they don’t believe that climate change is important) inside another story.”

    Now, Lomborg says he’s not a denialist. OK, fine. But is an enabler any less ill than the addict? No. Not until they break the cycle. Has he? No. He’s still saying these fine, upstanding people who have retarded action on climate for DECADES should be treated as if their bad science and even outright lies are just peachy!

    This is insanity, for the truism is unfortunately true: tell a lie often enough, people believe it to be true.

    There is ZERO scientific support for denialists. They should be treated that way.


  4. bluebike06

    While there may be some truth to the Bjorn’s alleged “climate complex,” when it comes to what is really going on with climate change, the man offers little credibility. I don’t want to offer where I’m from but I’ve personally met with Bjorn and have witnessed firsthand how he works.

    Bjorn’s biggest cheerleader is Bjorn.

    On the serious issue of climate change, he cuddles up with the deniers flat out, gets a receptive audience because he will say what they want to hear, for a very steep price. He will say that he believes in man-induced climate change, but says there’s little we can do about it, that we’d be better to put our resources in addressing world hunger, poverty, aids, etc. It’s an economist’s approach, and a narrow one at that, one that doesn’t connect the dots.

    When someone of his notoriety (again, thru shameless self promotion) tries to address these issues without publicly recognizing that they’re connected, that’s a huge disservice to the discussion and to future generations.

    Thanks, but no thanks Bjorn. I will continue to work for dramatic overhaul in our energy policies because 1) I prefer to believe the climate scientists (not an economist) who are telling us we need to act now, and 2)because we simply cannot afford not too. Renewable energy and dramatic improvements in efficiency will help to assure that we have an economy and a planet in the future for my children and beyond. No we can’t do it overnight, but the sooner we start with the transition, the better off we’ll be.

  5. russ

    ccpo – get your head out – I am talking about the incentives & subsidies so many of the technologies are begging for. Nothing to do with studies funding.

    No doubt climate change is real and man caused. That does not mean all logic & thinking should be disregarded in a rush to do ‘something’.

    Ethanol being a case in point – nothing green about corn based ethanol at all as it is energy negative. Just a pit to pour money into.

  6. Eve

    I think all global warming fanatics should get off the grid and stop using gasoline. It doesn’t mean they will. They talk the talk but do not walk the walk. As for environmentalists, trust the word of a group that has a death toll of over 100 Milllion people, who have not gotten one piece of science right yet? I don’t think so. The hypothesis of AGW says that doubling C02 will raise the temperature of the planet by 1.6 degree’s C. Since we are halfway there, we should have seen .8 degree’s C by now. Have we? Not a prayer. There is no doubt that climate change is real but it is not caused by man. If you have a problem with the climate, talk to God.

  7. robert

    “, …trust the word of a group that has a death toll of over 100 Milllion people, who have not gotten one piece of science right yet? I don’t think so.”

    Care to elucidate us on those assertions?

  8. Flu-Bird

    Recently some greenpeace idiots were arrested for repelling down MT RUSHMORE and unfurling a stupid banner showing BARACK OBAMAS ugly mug i mean GREENPEACE are the biggist bunch of jerks around only a complete dolt would have anything to do with this bunch of eco-freaks

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