Bjørn Lomborg's climate change scepticism is made possible only by distorting the scientific evidence. His cheery optimism is not the counterweight we need to unthinking alarmismby Kevin Watkins / October 27, 2007 / Leave a comment
Cool it: the skeptical environmentalist’s guide to global warming, by Bjørn Lomborg Marshall Cavendish, £16.99
Bjørn Lomborg believes that the future will be far better than you are being led to believe. You can’t fault his ambition, or his perseverance. But his book is a concoction of selectively presented facts which fails to address the real challenge posed by climate change.
The past two years have seen an extraordinary shift in public debates on this issue. Reports from the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) set out unequivocal evidence on the realities of human-induced global warming. Last year, a report by Nicholas Stern for the British government argued forcefully that the human, social and economic costs of failing to tackle climate change will heavily outweigh the costs of greenhouse gas mitigation. With governments preparing for a critical meeting in Bali at the end of this year on the future of the Kyoto protocol, the momentum is gathering pace.
Cool It challenges most of the foundations underpinning the climate change consensus. Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, sets the scene by cautioning his readers against “vastly exaggerated and emotional claims,” he then proceeds to vastly understate the scale of the climate change problem.
To be fair to Lomborg, he does not deny that climate change is happening, or that even moderate warming could cause problems. However, he encourages us to look on the bright side. True, heatwaves may claim a few more lives in Europe and the US, but warmer weather will avert a far greater number of winter deaths. Glacial melting in the Himalayas and elsewhere is presented not as a threat but as a boon for irrigation systems, because it will generate more water. Rising sea levels will be a minor irritant. But with modest public investment, “we will essentially have no people flooded by 2085.” The Thames barrier is cited as an example of how to adapt. The accelerated break-up of the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica? Yet another example of climate change scaremongering, according to Lomborg. He assures us that “all models” predict an increase in Antarctic ice mass, with only minor losses in Greenland.
Lomborg has harsh words for the Stern review. Rejecting the argument that climate change mitigation is a good investment, he offers his own cost-benefit analysis, which concludes that any damage from climate change will be vastly…