Willful Idiocy: Unpacking Lomborg’s Climate Nonsense

[LATE UPDATE: JPL's new climate site is up, and they have an interesting graphic that removes seasonal variability from sea level rise measurements and includes the most recent measurement.

It looks like this Lomborg-claimed "inconvenient truth" is even a bit more inconvenienced by reality than I first thought. H/T to Climate Progress]

First a bit of background on Lomborg-

Despite being called a “climate expert” by skeptic-friendly media articles (e.g. here, here, here, etc.) Bjørn Lomborg is not a climate scientist. In fact, he isn’t a scientist at all. He is an economist game theorist [Corrected, although many sources characterize Lomborg as an economist, including links in the "About" section of his personal site. My intent here is not to say that no economist or game theorist or political scientist- or whatever Lomborg considers himself- is qualified to speak about climate change, but rather to shed a bit of light on the perspective from which he approaches the discussion, as it may in part explain some of the bizarre frames he uses when talking about the "worth" of addressing climate change] and author of two factually-challenged books [also here] which purport to reject conventional wisdom regarding the environment and climate change, particularly in terms of policy. He is a master of the false dilemma fallacy. Lomborg, similarly to Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus, and Roger Pielke, Jr. is not actually a climate change denier per se- he claims to accept the underlying principles whereby anthropogenic emissions warm the planet and alter the climate, though he often underplays or otherwise attempts to minimize the expected impact- rather these “non-skeptical heretics” argue against emissions regulation policies and instead push for increased investment in future technologies, which presumably will come to fruition at an unspecified later date that will arrive in time to prevent the most severe negative consequences otherwise expected. Obviously, the distinction between denier and delayer is for practical purposes one essentially without a difference, as Joe Romm has pointed out repeatedly.

You can be guaranteed that the take home message from Lomborg at the end of the day will be “delay, delay, delay” “because technology, technology, technology”. Lomborg’s newest contribution to the discussion of climate change and policy is a rather inartful and self-contradictory op-ed about free speech and bad policy, published at Project Syndicate. Let’s have a look.

The Green Inquisition by Bjørn Lomborg

Not off to a very promising start. Whenever I see language that frames rejection of or disagreement with mainstream science couched in terms of religious persecution, an immediate red flag goes up. This is the tactic of the creationist, the 9/11 Truther, the tobacco-cancer denier, and so on. No one is preventing Lomborg or Tim Ball or any of the other handful of vocal dissenters from airing their views on the subject. In fact, some like Lomborg have made their living being paid to do just that. I wonder how many victims of the actual Inquisition made the medieval equivalent of the talk show circuit time and time again attempting to boost their “heretical” book sales?

Worse than the rack- Lomborg promotes his latest book on Comedy Central.

Also note the immediate conflation between environmentalism and climate science. Dissolving the boundaries between the two allows Lomborg to use the actions of one group to impugn the other and vice versa. It also allows him the freedom to attack from outside the science itself.

When it comes to global warming, extreme scare stories abound. Al Gore, for example, famously claimed that a whopping six meters (20 feet) of sea-level rise would flood major cities around the world.

The 6m/20ft figure is a fairly uncontroversial estimation of sea level rise as a consequence of either the West Antarctic Ice Sheet or Greenland Ice Sheet collapsing. There is nothing inherently “extreme” about this “factoid”, other than that a discussion of the relevant timescales of such a collapse is missing-a crucial point for those crying “extremist” and those who, like Lomborg, imply sea-level increase cannot be rapid.

Gore’s scientific advisor, Jim Hansen from NASA, has even topped his protégé. Hansen suggests that there will eventually be sea-level rises of 24 meters (80 feet), with a six-meter rise happening just this century. Little wonder that fellow environmentalist Bill McKibben states that “we are engaging in a reckless drive-by drowning of much of the rest of the planet and much of the rest of creation.”

Calling Al Gore a protégé of James Hansen is simply absurd. Gore is a former politician and current “activist”. He isn’t a scientist, and does not pretend to be one. And what would be notable about a more accomplished person “topping his protégé” in the first place? Careless language, but clearly designed to imply an escalation of rhetoric when the two scenarios are actually quite similar and based on the same evidence.

The claim regarding Hansen’s “suggestion” of 6m rise within the century is simply a reference to his warnings of the likely possibility of non-linear dynamics involved in the collapse of ice sheets inferred by paleoclimatic evidence, which is not something modeled by the IPCC AR4. Likewise, the “eventual” sea-level rise is derived from paleoclimatic findings rather than modeling in the AR4.

Given all the warnings, here is a slightly inconvenient truth: over the past two years, the global sea level hasn’t increased. It has slightly decreased . Since 1992, satellites orbiting the planet have measured the global sea level every 10 days with an amazing degree of accuracy – 3-4 millimeters (0.2 inches). For two years, sea levels have declined. (All of the data are available at sealevel.colorado.edu.)

Two years? That certainly doesn’t a meaningful trend make, and indeed when one actually examines the data Lomborg refers to, it’s easy to see that the long term trend of sea level rise has occasional years of decline- 2004 and 2005 are lower than both 2003 and 2006, for example.

Indeed, the long term data make a mockery of Lomborg’s implication that there is something amiss with our understanding of sea level increase. To somehow invoke a tiny aberration in a long term pattern as though it is contradictory to the possibility of a different mechanism of sea level increase entirely (ice-sheet collapse) is bizarre. Especially so because Lomborg walks this back moments later.

This doesn’t mean that global warming is not true. As we emit more CO2, over time the temperature will moderately increase, causing the sea to warm and expand somewhat. Thus, the sea-level rise is expected to pick up again. This is what the United Nations climate panel is telling us; the best models indicate a sea-level rise over this century of 18 to 59 centimeters (7-24 inches), with the typical estimate at 30 centimeters (one foot). This is not terrifying or even particularly scary – 30 centimeters is how much the sea rose over the last 150 years.

Strangely, Lomborg guts whatever point he was hoping to make about a lack of sea level increase over the last two years as evidence against Gore and Hansen in an apparent attempt to use the AR4 as a source to attack them. The problem being of course that the AR4 modeling doesn’t take into consideration the possibility of non-linear ice sheet collapse nor do the numbers he cites take into consideration the high end of projected warming. He’s comparing an apple to orange groves. He also ignores completely that even small increases in sea-level comprise threats to coastal cities, not due to direct inundation, but rather increased storm surges (e.g. here). I’m betting that the residents of the Florida Keys, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and other low-lying areas find the conservative IPCC estimates “scary” indeed.

Simply put, we’re being force-fed vastly over-hyped scare stories. Proclaiming six meters of sea-level rise over this century contradicts thousands of UN scientists, and requires the sea-level rise to accelerate roughly 40-fold from today. Imagine how climate alarmists would play up the story if we actually saw an increase in the sea-level rise.

Sea-level rise has in fact been accelerating on the high end of what the AR4 anticipated, but Lomborg clearly is less interested in what the science actually has to say than he is in attempting to paint Gore and Hansen as extremists.

Increasingly, alarmists claim that we should not be allowed to hear such facts. In June, Hansen proclaimed that people who spread “disinformation” about global warming – CEOs, politicians, in fact anyone who doesn’t follow Hansen’s narrow definition of the “truth” – should literally be tried for crimes against humanity.

Lomborg apparently has a different definition of “facts” than the rest of us. What Hansen actually said was:

Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including disguised funding to shape school textbook discussions.

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.

He certainly wasn’t speaking about the AR4 estimates of sea-level increase or anyone who merely disagreed with him. This statement was not made out of nowhere- the evidence of intentional disinformation campaigns on behalf of energy and industry groups is incredibly well-documented (see here, here, here, here, here, etc.). Hansen is clearly speaking about persons knowingly engaging in deception for profit at the expense of the public good, which (regardless of one’s feeling about what such persons’ legal fate should be) is a far cry from Lomborg’s claim that Hansen wants no one to “hear such facts” as the IPCC AR4 projection of sea-level increase or the past two years of sea-level satellite data. Lomborg is blatantly engaging in deception.

It is depressing to see a scientist – even a highly politicized one – calling for a latter-day Inquisition. Such a blatant attempt to curtail scientific inquiry and stifle free speech seems inexcusable.

Again, we see the creationist tactic of pretending that disinformation should be accepted under the guise of “free speech” and “scientific inquiry” and claiming persecution by those who see through it. Hansen said nothing about an individual’s right to speech or curtailing scientific inquiry of any kind. What “scientific inquiry” does Lomborg believe ExxonMobil was engaged in when it urged George W. Bush to oust career scientists and replace the head of the IPCC with someone who could be counted on to oppose the US stance on binding emissions commitments (the US set targets while India and China would be exempt), guaranteeing no such commitment would be made by the United States under Bush’s administration? What “free speech” does Lomborg believe Philip Cooney and the Competitive Enterprise Institute were engaged in when they were conspiring to have a high level official at the EPA fired over its report that reflected much of the same science Cooney himself spent so much time censoring before being forced to resign in disgrace? Lomborg’s sense of outrage is not simply unwarranted, it is perversely being directed at those who themselves have experienced just the sort of censorship Lomborg falsely claims they are advocating. It strains the bounds of credulity to believe that Lomborg is ignorant of all of this.

But it is perhaps also a symptom of a broader problem. It is hard to keep up the climate panic as reality diverges from the alarmist predictions more than ever before: the global temperature has not risen over the past ten years, it has declined precipitously in the last year and a half, and studies show that it might not rise again before the middle of the next decade.

More nonsense. Here we have the familiar “warming stopped in 1998″ canard that has been repeatedly debunked (see here, here). All one has to do is look at the data for the last 120 months of basically every temperature record to see that the trend line is positive, even without using a common baseline. The significance of choosing 10 years (rather than 20 or 30 as one would assume anyone interested in significant long term climatological trends would do) is of course to start with the incredibly strong El Niño-boosted temperatures of 1998 and end with the La Niña-cooled 2007-2008 (this La Niña being the same, and similarly specious, source for Lomborg’s claim of “precipitous cooling” over the last year).

His intentionally vague “studies show that it might not rise again before the middle of the next decade” line presumably refers to two recent studies which attempt to use the IPCC AR4 models to perform a short term forecast for the coming years: Smith et al., 2007 and Keenlyside et al., 2008. Both were incredibly rough first passes at short term forecasting, but more importantly both studies showed that warming would continue to increase significantly in the near future- which begs the question of why Lomborg bothered to bring them up in the first place. No one is proposing policy to combat the changes in climate anticipated in the next few years- obviously the concern is with long term warming and its resulting changes to climatic norms. Whether Lomborg is not capable of this basic level of analysis or he is being deliberately deceptive, this is simply rubbish.

With a global recession looming and high oil and food prices undermining the living standards of the Western middle class, it is becoming ever harder to sell the high-cost, inefficient Kyoto-style solution of drastic carbon cuts.

This is of course bare assertion on his part, ignoring examples which illustrate that cutting carbon does not have to be either inefficient or high-cost, and focusing on a treaty that never truly got off the ground. Presenting high oil prices and carbon cuts as opposing is also puzzling here. While oil may drop a small amount in price in the near future, the growing consensus among energy, economic, and security experts is that the era of cheap oil is for all intents and purposes over. Cutting carbon in many parts of the world won’t be in opposition to high oil prices, it will be a response to them.

A much sounder approach than Kyoto and its successor would be to invest more in research and development of zero-carbon energy technologies – a cheaper, more effective way to truly solve the climate problem.

Here is where Lomborg tips his hand- all of the nonsense about no warming over the last decade and complaints regarding sea-level rise projections serve merely to give enough of an impression of uncertainty to avoid employing the solutions available immediately and in the near future in order to continue emissions growth and kick the can down the road even further. If sea levels aren’t rising and temperatures aren’t warming as Lomborg claims, what “climate problem” is he referring to? This is the classic delay-and-preach-technology tactic. Claim to accept the consensus view, meanwhile attack it and any policy meant to meaningfully address it, and put the emphasis on action in a magical future where technology has solved the problem for us.

Hansen is not alone in trying to blame others for his message’s becoming harder to sell. Canada’s top environmentalist, David Suzuki, stated earlier this year that politicians “complicit in climate change” should be thrown in jail. Campaigner Mark Lynas envisions Nuremberg-style “international criminal tribunals” against those who dare to challenge the climate dogma. Clearly, this column places me at risk of incarceration by Hansen & Co.

Delusions of persecution abound amongst those that reject mainstream science. Note also that Suzuki actually suggested that students at a university consider whether or not legal recourse was available to jail politicians who deliberately avoided their duties in regards to taking meaningful action in the face of climate change, saying:

What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there’s a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they’re doing is a criminal act.

Which his spokesperson clarified was to be taken figuratively. Again, hardly the breathless persecution invoked by Lomborg. Mark Lynas, author of the Orwell Prize longlisted and Royal Society Prize for Science Books-winner of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet is also grossly misrepresented by Lomborg. Lynas writes (not in response to those who may disagree with his position or want to engage in the free pursuit of science, but of those knowingly engaging campaigns of disinformation in order to protect industry profit margins):

I wonder how future juries might view the actions of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who, in full knowledge of the realities of climate change, continue to preach their gospel of denial in the service of Big Oil dollars. I wonder what sentences judges might hand down at future international criminal tribunals on those who will be partially but directly responsible for millions of deaths from starvation, famine and disease in decades ahead.

Like Hansen, Lynas is not calling for the punishment of free speech or science that comes to conclusions somewhat different than the consensus, he specifically is talking about those who run the same kind of interference that the tobacco companies’ pocket scientists ran to keep the public in the dark about the true dangers of smoking. The question is, why doesn’t Lomborg ever reproduce the quotes he references in their entirety, and in proper context? Why does he pretend that Hansen, Suzuki, and Lynas could be speaking about him unless he is knowingly engaging in the disinformation they are truly condemning?

It’s also worth noting that Lynas among others was an early voice of caution against the corporate and governmental push to make biofuels a priority in response to climate change, and David Suzuki likewise expressed skepticism regarding biofuels- something worth revisiting in light of Lomborg’s claims regarding who is responsible for their misuse:

But the globe’s real problem is not a series of inconvenient facts. It is that we have blocked out sensible solutions through an alarmist panic, leading to bad policies.

Consider one of the most significant steps taken to respond to climate change. Adopted because of the climate panic, bio-fuels were supposed to reduce CO2 emissions. Hansen described them as part of a “brighter future for the planet.” But using bio-fuels to combat climate change must rate as one of the poorest global “solutions” to any great challenge in recent times.

Lynas and Suzuki were not alone in expressing reservations about biofuels. Despite Lomborg’s implication, Hansen as well sounded caution, noting that:

Low-input high-diversity biofuels grown on degraded or marginal lands, with associated biochar production, could accelerate CO2 drawdown, but the nature of a biofuel approach must be carefully designed.

But Lomborg sees no need to qualify his claims about Hansen’s support for biofuels, without a backwards glance launching into an attack on biofuels used in a manner that Hansen never advocated and implicitly rejected:

Bio-fuels essentially take food from mouths and puts it into cars. The grain required to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol is enough to feed one African for a year. Thirty percent of this year’s corn production in the United States will be burned up on America’s highways. This has been possible only through subsidies that globally will total $15 billion this year alone.

Because increased demand for bio-fuels leads to cutting down carbon-rich forests, a 2008 Science study showed that the net effect of using them is not to cut CO2 emissions, but to double them. The rush towards bio-fuels has also strongly contributed to rising food prices, which have tipped another roughly 30 million people into starvation.

This is typical Lomborg- tying together persons and concepts that after even a moment’s inspection are revealed to be unconnected or more often in direct contradiction to one another.

Because of climate panic, our attempts to mitigate climate change have provoked an unmitigated disaster. We will waste hundreds of billions of dollars, worsen global warming, and dramatically increase starvation.

Who is this “our” Lomborg is referring to? It’s clearly not Lynas, Suzuki, or Hansen.

We have to stop being scared silly, stop pursuing stupid policies, and start investing in smart long-term R&D. Accusations of “crimes against humanity” must cease. Indeed, the real offense is the alarmism that closes minds to the best ways to respond to climate change.

The take home message of the day- after regurgitating an embarrassing mixture of half-truths, misrepresentations, and falsehoods- delay, delay, delay. Why? Because technology, technology, technology. The irony of Lomborg attempting to dictate what should and should not be acceptable speech regarding the consequences of climate change while whining about free speech is no doubt lost on him. These consequences are alarming, but there are solutions that can be implemented now- something that Suzuki, Lynas, Hansen, and even Gore recognize. Their message is that we can take meaningful, careful, but important steps with the technology we have or soon will in order to avert the worst of climate change.

And that is the opposite of alarmism.

[UPDATE: Roger Pielke, Jr. continues the "Hansen wants to try skeptics" canard.]

[LATE LATE UPDATE: I've been remiss in not linking to the follow up conversations over at Only In It For The Gold and Deltoid. Apologies- great stuff.]

41 responses to “Willful Idiocy: Unpacking Lomborg’s Climate Nonsense

  1. James Hansen’s quote:

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TwentyYearsLater_20080623.pdf

    “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”

    AND

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-james-hansen/twenty-years-later-tippin_b_108766.html

    CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature. If their campaigns continue and “succeed” in confusing the public, I anticipate testifying against relevant CEOs in future public trials.

    Conviction of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal CEOs will be no consolation, if we pass on a runaway climate to our children…”

    [I already provided the relevant link and quotation. Did you even read the post before commenting?]

    Hansen means it when he says “crime” and “conviction.” And if we don’t pass a runaway climate to our children, would trial & conviction of CEOs console us? What of the current and future coal & oil magnates in China, India or Africa?

    [Hansen's own words answer these two questions. No, it will not be a consolation. Only those engaged in willful deception of the public. Again, are you even reading before you respond?]

    Really, this is nothing but shrill polemics that can only serve to galvanize the faithful on either side of the debate. It’s invidious talk and unworthy of someone of Hansen’s position.

    [I think Jim Hansen is more than qualified to judge what is or is not worthy of his position. He has a right to speak his opinion on this as a private citizen. The irony of people (e.g. Lomborg) implying that he shouldn't do so when at the same time whining about the stifling of free speech is incredible.]

    The question remains simply: What is the climate sensitivity to CO2? If it is very high then an accelerated program of CO2 mitigation is paramount. If climate sensitivity falls below 2 degrees C., then a protracted program in due course is warranted.

    [That is not the relevant question as pertains to Lomborg's point and my own. The relevant questions are whose speech is stifled according to Lomborg? Who is Hansen actually talking about and is he actually advocating the stifling of free speech and scientific inquiry? It's patently obvious that Hansen is not talking about censoring any skeptic or speech, but rather holding those accountable who knowingly tried to confuse the public, as the tobacco companies did.]

    With average solar irradiance clearly trended to dim by a net of -0.2 to -0.3 degr. C. by 2025 (Solanki, Hathaway, others) & the additional offsets offered from soot & ozone mitigation (another -0.3 degrC) we may widen the window of opportunity against any serious risk of AGW.

    The quandary is this: How serious the risk & how costly the remediation.

    William Nordhaus projects expensive early remediation in “A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies” as does Bjorn Lomborg. Nordhaus projects that if we front-load remediation costs too much we’ll end up forcing opportunity costs to an unsustainable level. A Kyoto cost backlash is already being seen in Japan & Europe (esp. Britain), exemplifying how the feasibility of energy transformation is limited at this point in time.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21494

    [Yes, Nordhaus and others have a rather pessimistic view of the costs of mitigation and adaptation. Nordhaus at least uses cogent methodology, although I disagree with him profoundly about which discount rates are appropriate. Lomborg is all over the map on his reasons if, when, and how action should be taken. As I've stated before, the only thing consistent about his messaging is that it will inevitably conclude with "delay, because technology" even as the reasons he gives for reaching this are shown to be incorrect, self-contradictory, outdated, etc. If Lomborg wants to be taken seriously by anyone outside of the skeptic-sphere, he might want to avoid making such easily debunked claims in service of a conclusion he has already predetermined. -TB]

  2. >The irony of people (e.g. Lomborg) implying
    >that he [Hansen] shouldn’t do so when at the
    > same time whining about the stifling of
    > free speech is incredible.

    Ironies indeed. Hansen claims he’s been stifled as well. And yet he gets to ask for Nuremberg trials for oily energy execs.

    As for appraisal of mitigation feasibility, the rosy feasibilities of current adaptation and tech. assumed by Stern are likely as fact-free as Lomborg’s. Lomborg doesn’t see PV tech. as cost-effective yet but the industry is on the cusp of gigawatt-scale production. Windfarms, however, have not been proven in terms of total maintenance overhead or rate of return on investment (amortizing too slowly due to partial average load).

    The salient point I want to make here is that neither Stern’s nor Lomborg’s positions are necessary – Stern assumes rapid adaptation without consideration to unanticipated costs, Lomborg assumes the project will be riven with excessive costs. Nordhaus looks at aggressive vs. slowly phased adaptation and mitigation and finds the front-loaded costs of the aggressive approach (Stern, Gore) might be counterproductive economically, impairing the ability of economies to afford better and more efficacious CO2 mitigation strategies as they come available, but Nordhaus doesn’t rule out a phased approach, in due course.

    Even so, with the increasing industrialization of S.E. Asia and Africa the odds are poor of slowing worldwide CO2 emissions for the foreseeable future. But it’s entirely feasible to widen the window of opportunity against any real risk from CO2 levels by the way of the mitigation of soot, ozone & possibly, CFC mitigation/ozone layer recovery (all are important greenhouse agents – the latter indirectly due to increased UV-B warming surface ozone).

    To the extent that Stern & Lomborg get the technology answer wrong, both are also right in that some very new technologies are making renewables feasible (Stern) but aren’t going to be commercially viable for some time (Lomborg, Nordhaus).

    One other aspect to consider is the target goals. At what rate of mitigation do the costs start to mount at an unacceptable rate? If our end goal is 90% mitigation by 2050, the first 50% cut in emissions might be feasible, cost-effective and affordable. But after that the mitigation cost for the remaining 40% (of the 90% total) is henceforth another 80% mitigation, and hitting that last n% becomes more and more expensive.

    This is the problem with a crash program when only parts of the solution are mature. Werner von Braun could pull it the U.S. rocket program off with relays & nuts&bolts b/c the project scope was limited and he had a huge budget, but this project’s scope is almost unlimited in scope and lacking cost-effective technologies we’re looking at looming costs that might be better put into other remedies. In the economic development Nordhaus assumes in his 4% discount rate in all likelihood that growth will be fueled via energy as developing nations industrialize. Although that’d seem an internal contradiction, there might be a critical path in affluence development as a way to technologize societies into developing technical remedies.

    To wit:

    1. Thorium-based nuclear power. Thorium is more plentiful than uranium, produces radioactive byproducts with a shorter halflife and is less conducive to proliferation of weapons-grade plutonium.

    2. Solar is on the cusp of becoming cost-competitive (see nanosolar.com & google for infrared photovoltaic). Infrared photovoltaics could be employed anywhere there’s a heat source, even ambient heat. Since the tech is nano-level, nanosolar’s gigawatt-scale production method could be adapted. As for large solar plantations, the business risk of unanticipated environmental impact assays needs to be addressed.

    3. Wind energy has seen serious drawbacks but a new turbine design may well address cost, efficiency and reliability drawbacks (see flodesign http://tinyurl.com/flodesign ).

    4. Ocean current exploitation via turbines is riven with location and distance problems but those could be addressed via superconductive flexible grid technologies.

    5. Gigawatt battery storage is now feasible via massive & cost-effective sulfur-sodium batteries. Although the energy density isn’t very high, it’s cost per kW is competitive.

    6. The prospect of cracking CO2 emissions into carbon-chain precursors to FT Synthesis is becoming feasible, perhaps facilitated via heat exchange and PV cogeneration.

    7. The use of agrichar (terra prete) as a soil amendment in conjunction with oily xeriscape plants could not only reclaim a great deal of lost crop lands, but could also reclaim historically poor soils.

    8. New adiabatic motor and engine designs are apparently able to recapture a tremendous amount of heat (provided the spiking problem can be addressed).

    9. New battery technologies are on the way: Caterpillar & Electrolux are joint partners in the new Pb-A FireFly batteries. Although currently costly, A123’s super Li-ion batteries have been demonstrated to be very rugged and lightweight. Google for the “kilacycle.” Coupled with on-wheel (spindle-mounted) motors the next generation of hybrid-electric transport can regain simplicity and improved range over current hybrid electrics and electric vehicles (either horribly complex or just about useless to most people).

    10. Coal may become safe again: The implications of infrared photovoltaics are tremendous since IR-recapture in power cogeneration could be coupled with CO2-cracking as a precursor to FT-synthesis. If sufficient efficiencies can be gained via heat recapture then CO2, metals and aerosol scrubbing overheads could be eased as well as CO2 cracking coupled to FT synthesis. Many of the requisite technologies for this are being tested now with the exception of IR photovoltaic which is still in the lab (CO2-cracking FT cogeneration is being piloted).

    11. Absorption refrigerants will make a comeback, with Ammonia systems already improved to be more efficient and safer, even for automotive and mobile uses. If you think ammonia is dangerous well a refrigerant leak can kill you too – and worse can become phosgene when burned. At least you can smell ammonia before it knocks you dead.

    12. Better lightbulbs. Cree’s new LED & Luxim’s new incandescent plasma lightbulb will surpass compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) as soon as production volumes become economical.

    Here’s the gotcha: The problem with every single of these alternative technologies is that they have not been fully proven on a truly large commercial scale (except for ammonia-based refrigerants). All current implementations of them are still realistically in the pilot phase and decades more will be required to transform the power infrastructure to such a degree that they are reliable and cost-effective (life-cycle & maintenance issues need to be addressed with PV tech, wind turbine etc.).

    A few more thoughts:

    We cannot count on running out of oil. A recent field study showed that abiogenic oil is in fact a reality, that various parts of the Earth do in fact produce petroleum and that the C14 markers were misleading. The clue was the constant presence of the abiogenic availability of Helium.

    Commercially viable fusion reactors may still be far off in the future, perhaps 2050. Once the technical feat is traversed however, the next step of He3 fusion will likely prove a relatively minor one. The beauty of He3 fusion is that it produces little radioactive byproducts and there lies thousands of years worth of planetary energy on the lunar surface, on Mars and beyond. Just three space shuttle load’s worth of He3 could power human societies for a year.

    The oft-lauded hydrogen economy may be a long way down the road if the costs of hydrogen production can’t be brought down. It may just be easier and more cost-effective to scrub, offset or improve efficiency of conventional fuels.

    Not every ostensible “green tech” is worth the trouble: CFLs are a horrible idea in terms of practical use and ostensible environmental gains. I’ve used them, I know from first-hand experience: They’re impractical in older homes with older wiring or in municipal grids that are prone to power spikes; they can arc through the glass tube (with Hg aerosol in your home, great); their oft-lauded longevity is greatly reduced through constant on-off use; as they age they suffer from slow starts so they are kept “on” longer, while other people tend to leave them on longer b/c they don’t duel with A/C as much as incandescents – both obviating their advantages.

  3. Oh, one currently feasible tech is artesian “geothermal.” In northern climes it’s eminently feasible and works well with conventional heat-exchange (heat pump) HVAC. It pays for itself in a manner of a few short years while significantly reducing long-term heating oil use. The only caveat is a reliable aquifer source.

    I could imagine that it’d also work well in warmer latitudes for improved cooling in the hottest months.

  4. Leebert:
    I greatly appreciate your positive viewpoint. As to your last point, artesian geothermal do you have any references for residential sized applications – I am exploring this option for a 1740 farmhouse with poor insulation due to architecturally important features.

  5. [Deleted as a newer version is posted below. Apologies for the delay in comment approval- I was out of town and without internet access over the weekend. -TB]

  6. An economist took the trouble to point out to me that Lomborg is a political scientist by training and not an economist, so I thought I’d pass that along.

    [Thanks, updated.]

    By the way, I have been trying to send some traffic your way, O Mysterious One. Welcome to the blogosphere and please keep up the excellent work.

    [Appreciate it greatly! -TB]

  7. “We cannot count on running out of oil. A recent field study showed that abiogenic oil is in fact a reality, that various parts of the Earth do in fact produce petroleum and that the C14 markers were misleading. ”
    1.Do you perchance have a reference or link for this astounding claim?
    2.The problem is not running out of oil. The problem is the inability to maintain current production rates into the future.

  8. (I tried before, but seems to have gotten lost. This is newer version.)

    0) Nice website, useful material on Lomborg.
    BUT, NOT WILLFUL IDIOCY.

    1) Note that Lomborg’s MS & PhD are in Political Science, not Economics. His long-ago research was in game theory & voting, but as far as I can tell, he does not publish economics or statistics in peer-reviewed journals.

    While he may teach statistics, his writings don’t seem to do a lot of actual statistical analysis. He offers lots of charts, normally from others, but his own regression analyses, confidence intervals, etc are hard to find. Also, it’s very unclear that he most people would call him an environmentalist.
    The following may be useful (although check the source, of course):
    http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/lomborgstory2.htm
    This bears on the Julian Simon comments later.

    2) But, is it just that Lomborg is a technology-lover?
    I don’t think so.

    I think Lomborg is of the Julian Simon/Cato Institute school of thought [i.e., the #1 priority, above all, is free markets and no government regulation of ... anything, keep taxes down, and there are no problems with any resource exhaustion whatsoever.]

    See: Julian Simon, “The Ultimate Resource 2″, for example, and then note, that the very first page after the copyright of Lomborg’s TSE is a quote from Simon:

    “This is my long-run forecast in brief:

    The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries, most of the time, indefinitely. Within a century or two, all nations, and most of humanity will be at or above today’s Western living standards.
    I also speculate, however, that many people will continue to think and say that the conditions of life are getting worse.”

    3) Suppose your #1 priority is in fact “free markets, no regulation, less taxes”. This could be advocated openly, but Lomborg’s approach is far more sophisticated, especially with Copenhagen Consensus. I.e., in TSE, he was arguing that all sorts of problems weren’t problems, at least some of which are clearly problems, so he now admits there are some problems, but watns to get them prioritized.

    With the “Copenhagen Consensus”, he has something that appeals across the spectrum:

    Left: gets conflicted by appeals for things like working on HIV/AIDS or clean water in third-world countries. If someone has a high level of social concern, it’s really *hard* to argue against these things.

    Center: agrees that it is important to prioritize problems and allocate resources in rational ways. Many people like this framework, not realizing the subtle ways in which cliamte change is guaranteed to be at the bottom.

    Right: is perfectly happy that the result is no regulation and minimal taxes.

    4) To see this, consider going down the list (page 44 of US Cool It!, or p.51 of the UK edition), and categorize them:

    A: developed world countries make zero change to internal behavior, but help out third-world countries more.
    If actually implemented, this would raise taxes in developed world across the board, but of course, truly major investments here don’t seem to happen very often.

    B: make it easier for countries to do business, move around, etc.
    Few of these have any negative effects or restrictions on first-world countries.
    The extent to which they are good or bad for third-world countries is beyond this.

    X: carbon restrictions: developed-world countries might have to change their internal behavior, including regulating some activities, and fossil-fuel companies would likely be less profitable.

    My guess at a list:

    A: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13. (+, -)
    B: 3, 9, 10, 14 (+, +)
    X: 15, 16, 17 [climate] (-, -)

    What a surprise! Anything that would actually *affect* a developed country in major way … is at the end of the list.

    A (+, +) I’ve talked/donated to people who do third-world water work, who spend serious chunks of their lives out there. Likewise, people who work on conflict resolution or helping third-world farmers. When somebody like *that* says “Water is important and needs more support”, or
    HIV/AIDS is a problem” I believe they really mean it. If they say, “We could do so much more with only $1/person/year from the US”, I’m sure they mean it. (I would call that a (+, +) argument: they make a straightforward argument and they want support for it.)

    A(+, -) But, if someone’s goal is to avoid X, the WHOLE point is to put (useful, valuable) things at the top of the list … that *won’t* get funded … so they don’t happen. If one goes by strict priorities, and one cannot get the top of the list funded, that assures that the bottom of the list doesn’t get funded. I’d call that a (+, -) argument: it’s a positive argument, but in real practice, it’s not expected to be implemented to any great extent, because the arguer is not likely to really push it or be willing to pay for it or expect anyone to pay much for it, and even if they pay a little, it’s a lot less bothersome than to pay for handling X.

    B(+, +) These arguments are quite consistent with Simon & CATO worldviews.

    X(-, -) These are negative arguments, not of the form “AGW isn’t real”, which is difficult to argue in the face of the strong science, but of the form “There are higher priorities.” or “If everybody gets rich, no problem.”

    So, if somebody says they buy the Copenhagen Consensus, ask them if they are actively advocating substantial raises in their taxes to pay to help third-world countries, or if they give substantial money to NGOs that do that. Note that folks like Bill & Melinda Gates actually do do that.

    – How often does Lomborg visit Bangladesh, Africa, etc? Does he help people who do?

    – In Denmark, does he campaign as strongly to get Denmark to increase taxes for more foreign aid, as he does to avoid dealing with climate change?

    ======

    I think Lomborg is (effectively) supporting the interests of one narrow set of industries and one political viewpoint (“no regulation”), while claiming to be approaching world problems on a global, balanced basis. So, I’d suggest that rather than being WILLFUL IDIOCY, this is a political scientist’s subtle and very effective political argument, even if numerous details fall apart when examined.

  9. John Mashey:

    Thanks for your excellent post- I am in complete agreement that Lomborg is engaged in a longer term gambit (I agree with you about the intent, more on this in a bit) that is actually fairly sophisticated. My title referred to the “idiocy” on display in the op-ed, which I at one point acknowledge that it is unlikely that Lomborg himself actually believes.

    About his longterm strategy- I think perhaps the slickest move he has pulled (other than claiming to be a former environmentalist) was establishing the Copenhagen Consensus well before the actual 2009 UNFCCC Copenhagen meeting.

    Where Heartland very crudely (although they did manage to hook a smattering of denial-friendly reporters) tried to mimic the IPCC well after the fact with their “NIPCC” sham, Lomborg has preemptively associated Copenhagen with ‘non-partisan’ conclusions favoring inaction and this will no doubt be used to attempt to counter the “politicized” UNFCCC by the usual suspects.

  10. Thanks.
    Regarding “idiocy”, I agree with your comments, I just couldn’t resist … but perhaps I should have put a finer point on it:

    Many other people see such idiocy, and:
    a) Either ignore Lomborg entirely
    OR
    b) Get really angry and don’t reply as effectively as they might [some of the SciAm comments, I'm afraid fell into that years ago].

    whereas I think, at least strategically, he’s been playing a very good game.

    [I don't disagree, but "good" here is relative. Most of the denial-delay-etc. activity is so clumsy and transparent that the Lomborgs, Pielkes, McIntyres, et al. seem impressively Machiavellian in comparison. I'd like to think that, to borrow a phrase from MT, "this corner of the blogosphere" is and has been on to them nearly out of the gate and I suspect that this at least trickles down to the Dot Earth level of the media (even if Andy Revkin never admits it publicly).]

    ====
    I assume you’ve seen Kare Fog’s “Lomborg errors” website, i.e., more than just the URL I mentioned.

    [Yes, I actually linked to the site in post where I characterize Lomborg's books as "factually-challenged". -TB]

  11. Yes, good is certainly relative.

    However, in support of “good”, I offer several datapoints, because one must be very careful of equating “this corner of the blogosphere” with the general public, or even with scientists in general.

    1) Long ago, before I dug around enough in Lomborg’s references to understand the cherry-picking, I gave TSE a neutral review in Amazon.

    2) I recently encountered a neutral commentary of Cool It! by a scientist I respect highly, who would fit the “Center”. We had some good email discussions, in which I pointed out some of the issues mentioned here, and I think got some movement in opinion.

    I would observe that many scientists are used to (+, +) or (-, -) arguments, not to (+, -) arguments, and are sometimes unused to such tactics, as can be seen, perhaps, with the recent APS/Monckton battle. [Many scientific societies would really not expect that the same day as a newsletter article appears, that someone is doing press release-style misinterpretations.]

    3) Silicon Valley is fairly sophisticated about climate change and environmental issues, and has a lot of well-educated people. [My town is here, and it is well-educated and very environmentally-conscious.]

    I had some venture capitalist friends (i.e., very smart, well-educated people used to assessing complicated proposals and sorting out B.S.) ask me about Cool It!. One lives in the same town, and another is also involved in environmental efforts. They both thought that Cool It! provided a useful framework in which to prioritize problems. [I.e., analytical center + some social left + some fiscal right, a common combination around here.]

    I ended up giving them a 2-hour talk on Climate, Energy, and Economics for context, and then explained something similar to my earlier post.

    ====
    Anyway, I make no claim that these experiences are necessarily typical, but when very smart people, familiar with climate change issues, assess Cool It! as neutral to positive, I’d call that *good* strategy on Lomborg’s part.

  12. John Mashey:
    I think Lomborg’s argument is far, far simpler. He sees population growth as the number one problem and that the fundamental and most humane solution to that is to increase the per capita income of the developing world. He also sees the fundamental pessimism, no growth and anti-free enterprise mantra of many environmentalists as fundamentally counter-productive and will delay the economic development that brings with it much lower birth rates. The big risks are low level equilibriums that sustain high population growth numbers and/or huge threats to human rights as governments struggle with burgeoning population growth.

    Your attribution of machiavelianism is a vast over complication.

    P.S. Last year 5% of my household income went directly to hands on education, water and health projects in third world countries via Rotary International – RI received a $100 million matching grant from the Gates Foundation for the eradication of polio.

  13. 1) I applaud your contributions to worthy causes. Rotary might also look at Search For Common Ground.

    2) Please give me more than your opinion about Lomborg thinking overpopulation is the main problem.

    I have: TSE, and read p48-49
    Cool It! (US edition)
    Cool it! (longer UK edition)

    Lomborg minimizes the issue, as does Simon.

    “He also sees the fundamental pessimism, no growth and anti-free enterprise mantra of many environmentalists ”

    Yes, he does, but the question is: what does that mean?
    What’s his/your definition of “environmentalist”? is it “far-leftist greenie tree-hugger” or something else? Do the “environmentalists” you know personally have all those attributes you’ve attached? Do you think anyone who disagrees with Lomborg fits that description? [Specifically, is that an attempt to put me & friends in that bucket? That would be amusing, for reasons that are easily found.]

    The Machiavellian description gives my best analysis, from a *lot* of study of Simon, Lomborg. It may or may not be right, but a one-line dismissal by an anonymous source carries zero weight.

    I’d be happy to look at something of substance.

  14. Mikkel Ostgard

    Hi, and thanks for an in general good blog.

    @John Mashey
    “The following may be useful (although check the source, of course):
    http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/lomborgstory2.htm

    Well as a Dane and being interested in the subject I did just that (checked the source), as I assume not all are aware of what ‘is rotten in the state of Denmark’ all the time and thus might have a hard time being critical to the source.
    I thus went through the entire site and compiled the following review as I went along.
    The story of how Lomborg stated is hardly a secret. As presented on the website it is more or less lifted directly from the preface to his Danish book “Verdens sande tilstand” (eng. True State of the World). He also fails to report on what the preface mentions as the purpose of the book. (1) To remove focus from isolated incidences to a global perspective, and (2) to state that all things might not be catastrophic, but also that they are still not good. His example in the preface is simple. According to UN in 1970 35% of inhabitants in 3rd world countries starved. In 1991 it was 21% and in 2010 it is expected to be 12%. At the time of the book the general statements from NGO’s, the media and politicians (at least in Denmark and Europe) were more along the lines, of its getting worse, when actually it is getting better. Lomborg’s point is not to say all is well, but simply to challenge a catastrophic view. Similarly is his chapter in the book on deforestation not controversial in one bit, although proclaimed as such on the site. Having just reread it, he states the rainforest is being cut down yes, but corrects the alarmist statements from past WWF (and others) exclamations on the rate and how much is left of it. He also mentions the problem from the perspective on 3rd world countries and actually present solutions. I have a hard time finding the problem here?

    As for his background he does nothing to hide it. In the preface he writes what he is, a Teacher of Statistics at graduate level. It is not Lomborg who portrays him as a former ‘activist’ or an expert scientist or anything like that but the media. I find it hard to blame a person for the whimsical, romanticized, simplified and exaggerated depiction of him in the press.

    With regard to the 2001 publishing of The Skeptical Environmentalist it is funny how the website seemingly ignores how the book actually is peer-reviewed by relevant peers by mentioning it only in passing. This was part of a bigger issue in Denmark but more on that later.

    On the controversy with S.A. I must say I am fully behind Lomborg. Not so much on the science, but in terms of the process where he is not given room for fair rebuttal (at first). I lack any kind of resentment from the website on this, all though it is often full of resentment for Lomborg’s alleged similar methods of debating.

    As for challenges on how both Politiken’s and The Economist editor in Chief and the then (?) editor of Social Science part of Cambridge University Press apparently have a secret relationship with Lomborg I stand baffled and amused. Speculative unsubstantiated slander seems the only appropriate term for this.

    Similarly are the accusations on how then (and now) Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, have a ‘close acquaintance’ based on nothing more substantial than having attended the same University – and not even at the same time. More slander follows when it is strongly insinuated that it was only because of this relationship he became head of the newly formed Danish Environmental Assessment Institute and how serious accusations from the Danish Committees for Scientific Dishonesty was ignored. As they should be, I must add, which the website however fails to mention.

    Not only should accusations not be treated as fact on principle – the innocent until proven guilty concept. But also because he was cleared completely of the allegations and the Committee severely reprimanded (by peers) for not having any substantial reasons for the allegations made in media, e.g. that The Skeptical Environmentalist had not undergone a peer review, which it had as we all know and even this website acknowledges.

    Admitted and extensively elaborated (as one of the few things) on the website is how many became involved and how extensive the issue became. That it for all those involved was impossible to draw a simple line and reach a conclusion should by the website be taken into consideration – not with the simple continuous statement that the author had time and time again (over and over and over and over) proved Lomborg a liar. Suffice to say must be that he hadn’t, which he has a hard time accepting.

    He also fails to acknowledge how the complaint to the committee and the public allegations from this was as much on Lomborg as a person as it was on the book. The entire process and later complaints has now involved so many people that the underlying insinuation of a conspiracy is more (or only) appropriate for an episode of the X-files. Clearly the case is not as simple and clear cut as insinuated. Ohh and yeah, I nearly forgot. The complaints both to the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty and by S.A. was on 3 (three) chapters out of an entire book.

    On the story of the Environmental Assessment Institute some kind of nepotistic relationship is once again insinuated between the Prime Minister (Anders Fogh Rasmussen) and Lomborg. However once again it is unsubstantiated (but now that it has been mentioned so many times it must hold some degree of truth seems to be the logic).
    Also the author seems to forget to mention the objective of the institute. This was NOT to conduct new research but to attempt to compile existing research, to attempt to evaluate different existing and new ideas and so on. Part of the idea with creating the institute was in short to not only advise politicians but also create debate in the media in the population and among politicians and interested parties (Industry and NGO’s). This is ignored in the website completely, but is the underlying reason for why the expert panel reviewing the work of the institute as one of the parameters had an evaluation of public appeal. I.e. relevance for normal citizens and what they could learn from a given report. Critique of no new research being done in the reports is hardly surprising as this was not the objective from the beginning. As for critique of cost-benefit analysis….. well hardly surprising as it isn’t exactly hard science. But critique is not the same as refusal.

    The website completely fails to accept how the reports did manage to create public debate in Denmark and awareness on issues which in turn fosters new ideas. As a ‘positive’ example to counter the one presented on recycling in Denmark, the institute already in 2004 related how the effect of ecological farming in Denmark compared to conventional was a myth in terms of pollution of drinking water. This had been an accepted reality for many years in Denmark where the preservation of drinking water has been a ‘hot issue’ for a long time. This was as late as June this year, once again, confirmed by a working group under the Danish Ministry for Agriculture. Lomborgs point is not to bash ecological farming but merely state that all the money subsidizing it (which we used to do in Denmark) is a waste if the intended effect in reality is non-existent.
    The money can be spent more wisely is all he is saying. He is not advocating tax-cuts or anything ‘neo-liberal’.

    As for the Copenhagen Consensus conferences the aim is again to provide guidance and provoke thinking – not to dictate policy or conduct ‘new revolutionary science’. The author of the website fails to acknowledge the expertise of the involved scientists compared to how the participants in his Copenhagen Conscience are accentuated. While the conclusion of this conscience conference is mentioned nowhere can we find the underlying reasoning. Of course the conclusions are hardly surprising based on the name and purpose of this ‘rebuttal’ conference to Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus. I as a person with a conscience would love to reduce all poverty and unjust in the world (or just in Denmark to start off with) – however as I have constraints and selfish needs as well I do not spend all my available income on the poor or NGO’s. Does anyone?

    Similarly the objective of the Consensus exercise is NOT to resolve all problems in the world but to stimulate discussion and present solutions for consideration. This is stated again and again by Lomborg (and participants) in the panel-discussions and Q&A from the audience. With regards to the inbuilt preference of short-time solutions over long-term issues based on the limited funds of 75 billion us$ available this is obviously correct and no economist (including participants would disagree). However this is not the same as saying funds are unlimited as alternative? We all know that as well and live in that reality every day. What then would be a suitable amount? – The author does not provide any suggestions but takes off into a fantasy world with unlimited funding assigned to projects primarily based on ethically correct evaluation.
    Similarly stating (correctly) that the conference is not perfect it is not the same as saying there is no merit at all in having a Copenhagen Consensus conference. Micro-financing is an example. It is hardly mentioned in the Danish press in general but each time we have a Lomborg conference it receives rekindled attention.
    Awareness of problems (in plural) and solutions the individual can support politically, or with this example participate in, is never a bad thing in my opinion??

    As the much more weighted criticism of Copenhagen Consensus which is linked to on the website writes in their conclusion:
    “This does not mean that the Copenhagen Consensus is a bad idea. It only means that the
    ranking exercise is at best a gimmick. The ranking exercise should find its primary audience not amongst politicians but amongst the popular press. In so far that this gimmick draws our attention to the fact that it really pays to invest in poor people in poor countries it may very well be worth the while. “
    http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/CirclesofSolutions.pdf

    Give credit where credit is due. Lomborg is not a scientist as such but does not claim to be either which makes his lack of scientific research…., well, irrelevant. He is involved in creating debate and awareness which I would say he does very well.
    From day one of his publishing he has accepted global warming and CO2 as a driver and never published anything to the contrary.

    He is however not a fan of Kyoto as he has often stated. This is a different discussion but in short as the effect of the Kyoto (if working) according to the IPCC predictions only delays the effects with one year he finds the outcome inefficient. Secondly he doesn’t believe it works at all (as do a lot of economists) because of world trade, China, India and so on. He has expressed agreement with those who favor a carbon-tax at the point of consumption as a better approach. Moving production abroad but still consuming can be detrimental to the global aim but still look good in the Kyoto-accounting system. He is not against Kyoto because he does not believe in global warming as it is often proclaimed.
    As an analogy consider Al Gore and Inconvenient Truth book/movie. No, we all know that scientifically we don’t expect world sea-level to increase by 20 feet in the near future and a few other loose cannon statements (e.g. Lake Chad and hurricane Katrina). But nonetheless, despite having some facts wrong we don’t disregard him completely. I lack the same openness for Lomborg?

    “Global Warming is happening. We need to get away from this; it is a hoax, no it is a Catastrophe… “
    Lomborg’s opening statements in the Colbert Report.

  15. Mikkel Ostgard

    @ John Mashey
    “- In Denmark, does he campaign as strongly to get Denmark to increase taxes for more foreign aid, as he does to avoid dealing with climate change?”
    Ehhhmm, yes and no. He in general refuses to comment on his personal political views in debates as they are besides the issue. What he comments is how we spend foreign aid – not that we shouldn’t do it. The same goes with regards to climate change. His books from day one have advocated that it is worth while spending money on aid and environment as it relieves future problems. He merely wishes to discuss what the money is spent on. Furthermore his comments are not on efficiency differences between government or privately sponsored initiatives and projects. He has purposefully not entered decisively into this dimension of public debate.

    In overall I am sorry. Your picture of an ‘evil’ neo-liberal no government advocating person is incorrect. In the broad Danish debate I would place him around the center – which in the US corresponds to your left/far left (remember that Denmark is a rather socialism influenced place ).

  16. Mikkel Ostgard

    @Blog
    “Bjørn Lomborg is not a climate scientist. In fact, he isn’t a scientist at all”
    – Correct and he does not claim to be. How whimsical Journalists portray him is hardly his fault.

    “If sea levels aren’t rising and temperatures aren’t warming as Lomborg claims, what “climate problem” is he referring to?”

    He never states sea levels are not rising and temperatures aren’t warming. In fact ever since his first book (1999) he has accepted both as fact. Not a black and white issue here – he is simply protesting how alarmists claim 6-7 meters or more in the near future while the consensus (IPCC and others) agree on much less. Please accept that alarmists do exist???
    We all know that the sad disaster in New Orleans with hurricane Katrina is not a direct result of global warming but flawed local politics concerning sea protection and were predicted by scientists. However alarmists do claim otherwise and receive unwarranted much media attention every time they make a claim.

    Other Gore alarmist opinions concern the drying of Lake Chad, and oh yeah, hurricane Katrina, and so on…… Now don’t get me wrong, I do like Gore but don’t need to be scared, just informed, to support action. As for cool considered choices over rushed decisions, please consider most of the 20th century with protectionism, fascism, communism, McCarthyism and more lately the Terroist-scare. I have no problem that Lomborg, or others, advocates to cool it in the public debate.

    “Lynas and Suzuki were not alone in expressing reservations about biofuels. Despite Lomborg’s implication, Hansen as well sounded caution, noting that:
    Low-input high-diversity biofuels grown on degraded or marginal lands, with associated biochar production, could accelerate CO2 drawdown, but the nature of a biofuel approach must be carefully designed.
    But Lomborg sees no need to qualify his claims about Hansen’s support for biofuels, without a backwards glance launching into an attack on biofuels used in a manner that Hansen never advocated and implicitly rejected:”

    Lomborg does not in the article claim that Hansen wanted what we are seeing today and is responsible for it. Actually he is more or less in line with Hansen here. As you quote Hansen: “The nature of a biofuel approach must be carefully designed” – that actually sounds as, delay for a bit, do some thinking and do it the right way?? Isnt that what Lomborg is saying in other words? Or as you put it about Hansen, he “sounded caution”.

    I am sure Lomborg actually agrees with you on a lot. Please also note how wrong you are with labeling him effectively as an opponent of climate change. He is not. He simply advocates informed choices and could you please consider a remark on his point with bio-fuel. You think it is a good idea? Bio-fuel indirectly causes starvation in 3rd world countries, inflates global inflation, and causes increase in the rate of deforesting. Finally does very little in terms of changing the underlying structures of our society (the carbon-emitting transportation technology). Isn’t all this why Hansen sounded caution in the first place?

  17. Mikkel:
    thanks, I appreciate something of substance, usefully from someone with local knowledge. I can’t do your long comments justice right now, it will take a few days.

    1) My comment “check the source” indeed meant that I had no direct knowledge of it, and it’s been a few years since I’ve been to Denmark, and I have no clue about local politics and personalities.

    2) Have you read the Julian Simon book I mentioned? And do you understand the political position of the CATO Institute here in the US? I conjecture that it’s *very* difficult to understand Lomborg without understanding that connection:

    (a) Lomborg seems to follow Simon.
    (b) In US, Simon was considered far Right.
    (c) You say Lomborg is centrist in Denmark, which is generally more Left than US.

    Either (a) is wrong, or (c) is wrong, because I’d guess that from (b), Simon would be off the chart Right in Denmark.

    3) I gave TSE a “worth reading” rating originally in Amazon, but upon rereading and chasing references, I got very unhappy.

    I’m no doomsayer, and I’m happy living in one of the optimistic, techno-aggressive places on the planet, i.e., Silicon valley, which is very busy trying to solve environmental problems. Stanford does a lot of world-class work in this & I bicycle down there often for lectures.

    The same people folks that do third-world water development & hydrology think it’s nonsense to ignore global warming, because the brunt of the early effects will fall right on the same people.

    I can’t remember which professor said it, but the words were to the effect (about SE Asia) “We can help them fix their local water problems for a while, but if we don’t also work on global warming, it won’t matter, because their rivers will be troublesome (Himalayan glacier melt), some will lose their land to the sea, and others will have salt water incursion.”

    There are errors in TSE that are simply horrifying, and they all slant one way, which is “don’t worry.” I’m an engineer/scientist, and I like rational analyses, but “don’t worry” is at least as dangerous as “the sky is falling”. Here’s a short version of something I psoted over at Michael Tobis’ “Only In It for The Gold”:
    =====
    If someone writes generally, with few references, they easily make mistakes. When someone writes with exhaustive references, but somehow misses anything that disagrees with their theses, one must wonder.

    I’ll just pick a few, as most of TSE has been exhaustively analyzed elsewhere.

    Chapter 11 Energy
    P.120: Uses famous quote of Yamani about stone age & oil age.
    This of course is nonsense, given that oil has great volumetric energy density and very high EROI.

    p.122: “it is expected that the oil price will once again decline from $29 to the low $20s until 2020.”

    Anyway, if you read that whole chapter, you find that there is no near-term Peak Oil&Gas issue, and no worry about energy … whereas a whole lot of people who really do this think we have very hard work ahead to replace our fossil energy structure [even without worrying about coal-burning]. This includes two of my friends who were Vice-Chairman or above at two of the largest oil companies,, plus a Nobel physicist who does energy issues that I’ve talked to.

    None of these are pessimists, and all are working on the problem, but they are all *scared*… whereas Lomborg isn’t. That seems odd…

    p.144 Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
    [I missed the following on first read, caught it later]:

    “Nitrogen is absolutely essential for food production…” correct

    “But today nitrogen is almost exclusively synthesized from air, and since air contains about 78 percent nitrogen there are no limits to consumption.”

    Ahh, big relief. Food is inexhaustible….
    but I’m an old farmboy, and I still recall a few things.
    ========
    This is incredibly misleading. We simply wouldn’t have the population on the planet if it weren’t for mass-produced nitrogen fertilizer. But it is normally made via the Haber-Bosch process, which uses natural gas, whose world supply is likely to peak in the next few decades. Alternatively, if you use a *lot* of electricity, you can get hydrogen from water, but unfortunately, we’re in for decades of racing to increase efficiency enough to replace the downturn in oil+gas, without burning too much unsequestered coal.

    According to Wikipedia, 3-5% of the world’s natural gas production is consumed, or ~1-2% of the world’s energy supply. *Since* 2000, in the US, the prices of the major fertilizers have more than doubled. Compare this with Lomborg’s p.145.

    (more in a few days)

  18. @John Mashey

    @1 – You are welcome. My point was just as I read the website I couldn’t help getting annoyed at the frequency and low level of ad hominem attacks presented. Similarly a few points was exagerated and others left out. I merely wished to present a counterbalance.

    @2 – Must admit I never got around to reading the Simon book. One thing I remember from reading Lomborg’s first book was how often he cited Simon and after a bit of research I decided I couldn’t (then) be bothered with him. This in connection with the CATO-institute. Yes an no is my answer to you. I know what CATO is about but I can hardly claim to completely comprehend their political impact in the US.

    With regards to politics, yes Simon (and CATO) would be somewhat off the charts in Denmark. We have similar in terms of pure economics, but on a small scale and they do not take up much space in public debate and influence.

    Further let me expand on how I place Lomborg and his Copenhagen Consensus and past government work. You could say environmentally in Denmark he is to the right (which still in the US would place him as an advicer to the Democrats). On taxes and government he is centrist, which in US is your left.
    As for A,B and C – I do not agree on you logic. Simon’s comments in Wired apparently is what set Lomborg of on his ‘mission’ in the first place. It is also true that Simon appears a lot in his footnotes, but as far as I know these are peer-reviewed publications? However beyond that I do not see him following Simon. Simon expressed (-es) skepticism in relation to human activity having anything to do with ozone depleation and climate change. Lomborg has from the beginning supported the theories of impact from human activity on both.
    As another example, Lomborg has from the beginning in the Danish debate supported wind-energy, which as you might now is relatively big in Denmark. However he became really unpopular when he pointed out some flaws from Danish ‘green’-groups who (still today) publically argue wind energy can cover 50% of the energy production. In his first book in Danish (1999, The True State of the World) the chapter on wind-energy is mostly critical on the critics of wind power in Denmark and he points out how much the efficiency and competitiveness has increased in relatively short time (10 years) due to improved technology. He does not attack the central government programs or subsidization which with regards to wind is common in Denmark. This is hardly ‘following’ Simons?

    More on the website you are linking to. In the first chapter Lomborg provides general examples on false and unsubstantiated alarms. In this context he draws attention to the ‘Ecological Council’ (government supported) yearly report from 1997. He provides examples of their comments on Danish nature and society where human activity is presented as predatory and all which is really missing is a mentioning of Gaia. More damaging he mentions how the claims are unsubstantiated, i.e. no reference to either own research or external research. The reason I mention this is that as a member of said council is Kaare Fog, the author of the website criticizing Lomborg. The animosity against Lomborg thus has a personal angle as you can guess and the criticism should be read in that context. Especially as Lomborg more or less (as mentioned on the site) was the catalyst for why the council lost its government funding in 2001.
    At the time (98) ecological farming was subsidized in Denmark although as I mentioned in the earlier post this is less so today. Mainly a result of claims from supporters, like the ecological council, having been proved largely unsubstantiated by later actual research. Not by Lomborg, who however deserves the credit for making it politically possible (in Denmark) to speak against subsidizing more ecological farming and scrutinizing the alleged local benefits.

    To summarize, my honest opinion about the website is not at all positive. I cannot recognize at all the picture he paints of Lomborg in Denmark and find the insinuations of personal tie-ins with editors and politician’s outright ridiculous. As to how he depicts Lomborg’s lack of ever acknowledging a mistake, I am stupefied as I myself have seen him do this in (Copenhagen Consensus) panel discussions as well as in newspaper columns. Coupling this with failing to acknowledge his own ‘involvement’ from early on as being part of the ‘Ecological Council’ and its fate is hardly what should stand as an example of fair debating style.

    @your points in TSE.
    I agree with you completely with your points and no, Lomborg is not a scientist. However (there always seem to be a however? ) I feel Lomborg is right in sounding the alarm sometimes.
    As an example on ‘alarmists’ by Lomborg:
    Worldwatch institute 1998: “The world’s forests have been dramatically reduced both in size and quality within the last decades. “ – with the only number being presented as 16.000.000 ha reduction. Lomborgs criticism is that this is a 40% higher number than UN’s and that no reference or indicator is provided for the statement on forest quality. Similarly WI claim that Canadian forests are being depleted with 200.000 ha yearly. As a source they site FAO which however does not agree once consulted as Canada in that period totally had an increase in their forests. Now that kind of criticism I must admit I find welcome. Not hereby saying that FAO is correct and WI wrong. However when WI presents a number far higher than FAO they at least owe an explanation – and this is what Lomborg attacks as alarmist.
    To add a perspective beyond the scientific on whose numbers are more correct. Europe has about 4,2% of the worlds forests with the main body geographically being in Sweden and Finland. In Denmark the past 15 years we have had an increase in forested area of about 11%. Thus we are trying locally to protect and expand the forests and it has a positive effect. However whenever an alarmist postulate is made about the condition on Global forests is made various NGO’s and political parties in Denmark advocate we allocate more money to re-foresting. Now I don’t mind this as such, except I would prefer we spend that money to buy up forests in Poland instead of expensively marginally increase Danish forests. This is the principle Lomborg is pointing out again and again. If we are worried about the rain-forest or forests in Africa (e.g. around Kilimanjaro) we should spend the money on those – not on a few more trees in small cozy Denmark where we already have a positive development. Money is a resource and the Danish budget is limited – thus taking a cost-benefit consideration into perspective I cannot see the problem with.

    Needless to say local forest groups strongly oppose Lomborg and anyone arguing similarly. My point is not to say all ‘bad news’ is alarmist – but merely point out that what really is ‘alarmist’ still have political effects.

    Back to your points – yes Lomborg is wrong on a number of things, but also correct in some of the alarmist statements he attacks. I think it is wrong to put Lomborg in bed with AGW’s in general as he is not a denier and never has been. Besides that is not focused singularly on climate change (single issue fanatic) but on a number of international issues. In my opinion his public depiction as such is more a result of superficial whimsical media than it is his own doing. The primary action he took himself was to oppose the Kyoto-protocol and from then on he has been a ‘bad’ person. Personally I agree with his comments on Kyoto namely that it according to the IPCC projections only delays GW with 2 years and that it is flawed in its design. A lot of economists agree on this on the simple logic of free markets and international trade, with increased separation of consumption and production as the overall main result. It is in fact the hypothesis in my own thesis research (still preliminary), but as two recent reports from Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) point out is not pure speculation. Kyoto simply isn’t working in terms of its goal is my honest opinion, and the money spend on it would do a lot more benefit to the environment if it was spend differently.
    His points on research and technology should also be considered in terms of his background and vast differences between the US and Denmark (and Europe in general). In Denmark we spend about 40% more public funds on ‘culture’ than we do on research. Personally I find this sad and must say I honestly envy your life in vibrant silicon valley with its openness for thinking new thoughts. But you shouldn’t fail to recognize that it is not a pure coincidence where it is geographically and how your neighbouring Stanford (and US in general) is ahead of the curve in terms of innovative thinking and clever research.

    As for Lomborg being “not scared” – I wouldn’t know but I think it is a good thing to advocate caution – like Hansen on bio-fuels. Personally I am worried – or put me in line with your friends and say *scared* as you put it. I am not defending Lomborg from a point of view of AGW is what I am trying to say.
    I have no problem with seeing how he is not always correct but outright wrong. Also that he sometimes is utilized as a ‘willful idiot’ by others (e.g. Bush back when TSE came out).
    As a final anecdote people in Europe have historically been much more concerned with negative effects of capitalism on the ‘working-class’. We all know history and how we in Europe to a much larger degree acted on fears than the US. I myself am no CATO all out liberal or anything similar; however I am not a fan of Marx either. What in Denmark constitutes as a liberal is still a socialist to most Americans so when Lomborg is accused of being liberal in Denmark it is far from putting him in league with US-libertarians.

    Sorry about the length, ;D – got cauht up in it, but promise to give it a rest for a while.

  19. Forgot the link to the findings of SEI.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7536421.stm

    The BBC article presents a link to SEI

  20. Lomborg is a policy wonk, Pielke Jr. is a policy wonk. Why do they appear so similar?

    If you associate with such people, the first thing they seek to do is get public notice. Often this means providing the powers that be the answers they want. This was certainly true of Lomborg and the conservative Danish government that was in power when TSE was published. Notice all the support that they gave him

    To recycle, they function in an honorable tradition which started with the self publishing pamphleteers of the 16th and 17th century. When enough notice had been achieved a book was/is published. More recently public intellectuals started by publishing in the academic press, working in foundations or universities, with the goal of moving on to policy making positions in government. With good luck they become consultants and movers and shakers. No better example of this than Henry Kissinger. Blogs provide a shortcut for this career path.

    What Lomborg has done is to assert ownership of a series of issues. His incessant self citation is a clear indication. He reacts to any challenge virulently, and his replies often distort what others have said. In short, Lomborg acts as a policy person, not a science person. Horrors, at least when this is pointed out. But again, sui generis. This is what one expects of a policy wonk. He keeps telling those of us who reply by showing that his assumptions are wrong that he is as pure as the driven snow. Eli begs to differ.

  21. Mikkel:
    Please do not stop. You have echoed my reading of Lomborg so precisely it will save me an enormous amount of time. As I have tried to point out at Michael Tobis site, the issue is that if those who are concerned about how we are using and using up planetary resources are going to “galvanize” and “motivate” those of us who are skeptical, the tone of the discussion will have to change from its current stridency to a more constructive and less confrontational tone. The SA treatment of Lomborg and the subsequent effort to silence him was a disgrace. The continued misreading of what he actually wrote and said is again disappointing and, for those of us who have read SE and followed the various discussions, the failure to acknowledge the validity of some of his points is likely to increase at least my skepticism of those engaged in such stridency and ad hominem attacks.
    If you are not already familiar with it, I recommend Steve McIntyre’s climateaudit.org site together with a very interesting and decidely pro-environment site that should give pause to those who would steamroller those skeptical of CAGW (http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Current/welcome.htm) .
    Many thanks for your long and thorough summary of Lomborg’s position.

  22. This is a dissection of “The Skeptical Environmetalist” by specialists in the various fields Lomborg draws on:

    http://www.grist.org/advice/books/2001/12/12/of/

  23. There’s NOTHING positive about leebert’s dreadful anti-science crap. Even if the oil asteroid or the abiogenetic oil elves gave us all the oil we needed, we still need the ice comet, the White Witch, or perhaps Jack Frost to send cooling air from out of the magical void around the earth.

    And quantity is not quality here.

  24. “Galvanizing and motivating” the denialists who lie and pretend they are skeptics is not our purpose. Our purpose is to marginalize them and counter their disinfo. period.

    It’s not thirty years ago, and it’s not out of bounds to say so.

  25. Mikkel:
    I’m still gathering a bit info here and there, but I had a few more questions & clarifications first.

    I’ve visited 50+ countries, and of course, one must always be careful of political comparisons, as labels often mean opposite things, and right/left is an over-simplification.

    1) “I myself am no CATO all out liberal or anything similar; however I am not a fan of Marx either. What in Denmark constitutes as a liberal is still a socialist to most Americans so when Lomborg is accused of being liberal in Denmark it is far from putting him in league with US-libertarians.”

    Let me just make sure: was “CATO all out liberal” mean “all out Libertarian”?

    2) In a later post, I’ll try to have a coherent essay about the difference in being “for something” and being “for actually taking action about it”, noting that doing something about climate change is not isomorphic to Kyoto.

    3) Can you give me a political read on Connie Hedegaard? I read Kare Fog’sthis, but of course I know Fog is not fond of Lomborg. I don’t know the local politics, and of course, I couldn’t read the original Danish if I could find it. Might you assess Fog’s commentary for us?

    4) Here’s something you might want to play with:

    http://flood.firetree.net/?ll=56.4382,11.0962&z=10&m=1

    which is Denmark with a (crude) model that shows gray areas as those that would be below sea level with a +1meter sea level rise. [Obviously, below sea level != under water, thankfully for nearby Netherlands.] It is fairly simple, and it is useful to know that with post-glacial rebound, the Northern mainland is rising (slightly), although the rest of Denmark is sinking, slightly, from BIFROST project.

    You might want to try:
    +1m [pretty well guaranteed by 2100 under BAU],
    +2m [possibly, if Greenland melts faster],
    maybe +7m [a wild guess for 2200 under BAU, that's half of Greenland ice + some Antarctic Peninsula + some WAIS]. You can go as high as +14m, which might be possible at some unknown date.

    If you’re so inclined, you might take a look at these maps and relate that to local conditions: what would people do? Would they build dikes? Where? Is there a Danish long-term plan for this somewhere? [I'm interested in comparisons and examples.]

    Out here [San Francisco Bay Area, whose population is roughly comparable to Denmark, depending on what you count], we worry about sea level rise, because local governments actually think ahead 50 years, or even sometimes 100.

    We of course have much better local maps here/a>, and <a href=”http://www.bcdc.ca.gov/planning/climate_change/SLR_Cayan_2008-04-16.pdf”here, as well as discussions of the various temperature issues. For CA, there is zero upside to global warming, only many expensive downsides. More heat doesn’t benefit us, whereas I guess it’s OK for Denmark. Fortunately, we have long disallowed most development along the CA coast, and we don’t have hurricanes (or North Sea storms).

    This is the +1m map for SF Bay Area. It’s survivable, although there wil lbe some exciting decisions about dikes later on, especially after petroleum is mostly gone.

  26. John:
    I appreciate your references and queries and I hope Mikkel responds.

  27. the issue is that if those who are concerned about how we are using and using up planetary resources are going to “galvanize” and “motivate” those of us who are skeptical, the tone of the discussion will have to change from its current stridency to a more constructive and less confrontational tone.

    Actually, I don’t advocate this for the denialists at all, as they won’t be motivated no matter what, as this would negate their self-identities.

    The issue is not to convince whatever %age it is to accept the scientific findings.

    The issue is to galvanize and motivate societies toward a redirectioning away from our current course.

    All you need is a majority for that.

    If a minority of dead-enders doesn’t want to go along, fuggem. Get left behind. Who cares.

    Best,

    D

  28. Mikkel:
    I’m addressing pieces of your long posts as I have a chance, and this is one that doesn’t need calibration of local politics or “He said, they said” investigations, so maybe you cna comment on it.

    Lomborg said, above:
    ‘the global temperature has not risen over the past ten years, it has declined precipitously in the last year and a half,”

    Would you agree he is saying global warming either isn’t real, or has stopped?

    Now that is either:
    a) TOTAL statistical incompetence
    OR
    b) Outright misleading by someone who knows better

    The Skeptical Environmentalist book stated: “Bjorn Lomborg is an Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark.”
    =========================
    Why?
    Backup (from comment at Only It it for the Gold):
    “2) Consider the general issue of describing a noisy time-series, doing trend analyses of such, etc … which is often taught in low-level undergraduate statistics. My first undergrad statistics textbook had it (~sophomore at Penn State ~40 years ago). This knowledge is not exotic, although many do lack it.

    3) If someone picks a specific start point, they might (or might not) be cherry-picking. Denialists routinely start with the El Nino of 1998,and then draw a line (not the correct linear regression) from then to now, and claim a trend. No knowledgable person claims a trend in a noisy time series between one point and the next.

    A beginning undergraduate might make this sort of mistake, but if a professor made it, and weren’t tenured, they’d be gone…

    4) If someone draws a line from a start point to and end point, thus ignoring all other data, they are either seriously statistically incompetent or being misleading. Many are the former, and many draw charts and just say “Look at that! (as human eyes are drawn to extrema).

    5) If someone computes a linear regression from start to end, they know more about statistics. If they claim a trend and don’t check its significance level, they are also either statistically incompetent or being misleading.

    All this shows up often at Open Mind or Atmoz, etc, for example: Garbage is Forever.

    Of course ~30 years is typically quoted as a meaningful interval for climate trends.
    =====

  29. @John Mashey
    I have just returned to your blog after having given it a rest as I promised. I spend the last hour on the Fog website as well as the interview with Danish Minster Connie Hedegaard and Lomborg.
    In very short, Fog’s depiction is as far from the facts as his website in general. I will try and find the interview on a different server – even if you dont understand the language it is easy to hear from the interview that Lomborg asks short questions and Hedegaard gives lengthy answers. Also that the atmosphere is relaxed and more or less friendly. Fog’s insinuations of constant interruptions and Lomborg speaking more than the Minister is easily dismissed, understanding the language or not. Same with the atmosphere and the ‘conversational tone’.
    I will return later with a more thorough description and a full transcript of the part highlighted on the Fog website which is lacking at best. Also with more comments on Connie Hedegaard which you requests.

    With regard to Lomborg being a denialist and the use of short term statistics I will also return with a more thorough comment. He is being quoted out of context is my simple conclusion at first. As for your question;
    “Would you agree he is saying global warming either isn’t real, or has stopped ”
    I think the best answer is given by Lomborg himself. In every book he accepts global warming science and never denounces IPCC or the science it is based on. More recently and simply put.
    “I point this out not to challenge the reality of global warming or the fact that it’s caused in large part by humans…”
    ” It’s wrong to deny the obvious: The Earth is warming, and we’re causing it.”
    Both from an article in the Washington Post.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/05/AR2007100501676.html

    Lomborg is no scientist and does not claim to be. He is concerned with the misuse of science politically and by some ‘environmentalists’.

    I will return with more later on Fog and the interview with Connnie Hedegaard.

    Lastly, I agree completely with you on your comments on statistics and how these can be willfully mispresented (alternatively stupidly misread).
    I also agree completely that denialist using any statistics routed in 1998 until now (or any other short period) does not deserve serious attention. I am not a denier, however I am very sceptical about some of the meassures we utilize.

  30. Mikkel:

    Thanks, especially for willingness to do Danish->English.

    My problem is this: I’m quite familiar with the tactics of creating delay and confusion, starting especially with the cigarette wars in the US, which are well-documented in on-line databases.

    Every cigarette company says it’s all for health, see for example R J Reynolds, which says among others:

    “Minors should never use tobacco products and adults who do not use or have quit using tobacco products should not start.”

    Is that clear? R. J. Reynolds is against minors’ smoking. That’s what they say…
    Do you think we can find much of their PR or public comments that say “Our business depends on getting kids addicted, which is why we invented TwistaLime.” I doubt it, although it’s true.

    Do you understand the “I don’t disagree with X, but there are all these problems” style of argument, designed to cast doubt or cause confusion?

    I’m looking at the UK edition of Cool It!
    IPCC references are on pages:
    11, yes, but…
    25-6, Kyoto
    68, IPCC hockeystick flawed
    73, glaciers (Lomborg is deadly wrong)
    76, shows IPCC graph
    77, misrepresents IPCC on sealevel rise meaning
    87- casts doubt on scenarios
    125-6, IPCC OK

    So, actually, he often tried to shwo the IPCC is wrong on the science, but he usually doesn’t come out and say so, but uses “IPCC says … but…” and then cherry-picks or obfuscates.

    For context, you might want to study the progression of arguments:

    a) there’s no global warming
    b) well, there might be, but not human-caused
    c) well, it might be a little human-caused, not much
    d) but actually, it’s good for us
    e) or it would cost too much to do anything about
    f) and it’s too late, so we should just adapt

    and the bottom line, the whole time, is always:
    “And no CO2 restrictions”.

    Entering this game a bit late, Lomborg skipped to d), e) and f) without going through a), b), and c), except to frequently cast doubt on the IPCC. he certainly believes McIntyre, although if he can’t be bothered to use linear regressions, it seems fair to question his statistical expertise…

    By the way, do you ever talk to IPCC authors? If not, you might want to try that some time. Nobody should accept it as gospel, just the best guess we’ve got from very good people.

    The problem I have is that someone *says* “Yes I accept that the Earth is warming” but then *does* everything possible in the details to cast doubt on it, and to prevent doing anything about it, I tend to believe the latter.

    Anyway, I’ll look forward to any more info, especially as your local knowledge is rare. But, I would especially be interested in a clearer answer to why someone who represented himself as a statistician could say what he did…

  31. Hi, as Simon Donner said, the tactic is the full smiling Lomborg

  32. Yale’s Gary Yohe, a lead author of Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Project’s principal climate paper writes in The Guardian today:

    “I can say with certainty that Lomborg is misrepresenting our findings… Lomborg claims that our “bottom line is that benefits from global warming right now outweigh the costs” and that “[g]lobal warming will continue to be a net benefit until about 2070.” This is a deliberate distortion of our conclusions… ”

    Full column here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/22/climatechange.carbonemissions

  33. Yale’s Gary Yohe, a lead author of Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Project’s principal climate paper writes in The Guardian today:

    “I can say with certainty that Lomborg is misrepresenting our findings… Lomborg claims that our “bottom line is that benefits from global warming right now outweigh the costs” and that “[g]lobal warming will continue to be a net benefit until about 2070.” This is a deliberate distortion of our conclusions… ”

    Full column here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/22/climatechange.carbonemissions

  34. Pingback: Lomborg and Playing the Long Game « The Way Things Break

  35. Pingback: Bjorn Lomborg admits his intellectual bankruptcy « Greenfyre’s

  36. Re: Mikkel

    This is not a surprise. Believe me, Denmark has its rabid reactionaries just like the US, that’s exactly how the con govt. got in a while back. In fact, Jyllands Posten the paper that got in the controversy over the Islam-bashing cartoons was openly pro-Hitler in WW II, and its owner bought the top progressive paper

    Hey Mikkel – how’s your red-baiting, environmentalist scapegoating, rich elite master-pleasing market fundamentalism working out for Iceland? And why didn’t you move there? I can assure you they understand Danish very well.

    What part of that Lomborg’s “contributions” have been completely rejected by Denmark’s scientists has not gotten through the mail yet?

    Also, again – quantity is not quality.

    Hils Danmark!

  37. Marion Delgado

    I brought up “Jyllands Pesten” to show you that Denmark has just as villainous a right-wing echo chamber as the US.

    http://home4.inet.tele.dk/jensguld/JyllandsPesten.htm

    Don’t have the kneejerk reaction that “Scandinavians are socialists” or anything like that

    Iceland fell for the entire market fundamentalism cult paradigm, believing it was rational, scientific economics:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/iris-lee/libertarian-experiment-in_b_172961.html

    Just as in Argentina and Chile, what happened was the resources of the average person were melted down, the safety net was cut up into snippets, and a handful of elites made a killing. What they killed in this case was the whole economy of a whole country.

  38. I had no idea that there was still so much controversy over global warming -fact or fiction. This is definitely an interesting read. Thanks for posting.
    Mike

  39. Pingback: IRIS

  40. Pingback: “Cool It” yourselves | The Way Things Break

  41. Pingback: Hallelujah! … Bjorn again « Greenfyre’s

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