Bjørn Lomborg “Skeptical Environmentalist”

ISBN 0 521 01068 3. Bjørn Lomborg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist – Measuring the Real State of the World”. Love him or hate him Lomborg sure stirred up a hornets nest with this one. Widely quoted within the environmental movement itself, this has been a phenomena that could not be ignored. Why all the fuss? Although now largely out of date (published 2001 by Cambridge University Press) he compared, what he calls the environmental “litany” to statistical evidence to see how bad things really are. For an alleged member of Greenpeace Lomborg sure takes an active dislike to the polemic of environmental activists. What he comes up with is a mixed bag. He tries to prove that our resources are not running out, that fewer people are starving and that all is well with the World. The Forests are not dying, Global Warming won’t kill you and the species are not dying out as quickly as claimed. As such he provides a valuable and level-headed contribution to the debate about, for example, such pre-conceived links between pesticides and cancer. We learn how GM foods are not necessarily bad for us, and so on. As such this work is not original and many have analysed just how far society has abandoned enlightened thought. Science and statistics have been abandoned and hijacked by anyone with a point to prove. It would be nice of Lomborg had restricted his argument to the facts. Despite claiming that he is using the facts against the myths he only trades one set of irrational arguments for another. His work is as subjective and qualitative as any of the people and organisations he criticises. His argument about Global Warming is largely mystifying to the average reader. Even worse, his analysis of Oil supplies are just plain wrong. He never mentions standard geological evidence for Hubbert’s Peak (apart from a brief mention in the end notes where he tries to claim that Hubberts Curve only applies to the USA – maybe like the law of gravity?) Whilst even the oil companies make no secret that Oil supplies peak sometime around 2015, Lomborg ignores all the evidence and draws a convenient line of expanding supplies up until 2001. This is years short of the known peak. This kind of cornucopian idealism is at odds with the facts. Indeed, to continue to propagate absurd ideas of endless supplies of Energy, that will be continually renewed by “human ingenuity”, undermines many of the valid arguments he makes. Some of his arguments are circular and confuse cause and effect. Despite arguing that we need do nothing about Global Warming for years he goes onto say that CO2 emissions will be negated by switching to Solar Power. Well, why would we do that then? Maybe because we are worried about Global Warming? And why is there a correlation between wealth and natural resources? Is it because your natural resources are your wealth or, as Lomborg claims, that the wealthier you the more you look after your environment? A useful book but somewhat undermined by its author’s enthusiasm for iconoclastic idealism. Worth a read. Just the once. For a rebuttal of Lomborg’s claims go to www.lomborg-errors.dk/skeptical.htm.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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