Streams

Keep Your Cool

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Time magazine has called Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg one of the 100 most influential people in the world. His latest book makes a controversial argument: that the environmental movement has greatly exaggerated the dangers of climate change, and, as a result, distracted public attention from more urgent global crises.

Purchase Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming at amazon.com.

Events: Bjorn Lomborg will be speaking and signing books
Wednesday, September 5 at 1pm
United Nations Bookshop
2 United Nations Plaza

Guests:

Bjørn Lomborg

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Comments [12]

A Siegel from McLean, Virginia

Lomborg is so suave and yet so misleading.

He opens the discussion by asserting the high cost of cutting emissions. Well, to a tremendous extent, this is utterly inaccurate.

Amory Lovins (Rocky Mountain Institute, www.rmi.org) coined the phrase "Negawatts" for the savings of electricity through efficiency. It is far cheaper to save electricity through efficiency in the United States and Europe than to generate new power. Cutting US electricity use by 20-30 percent at a cost of 5 cents a kilowatt (or half the retail price of electricity) would be easy within the next decade, if we chose to do so. (Florida recently identified a 17% reduction potential at 4 cents/kwh by 2015, for example.) Coal electricity -- a leading source of CO2 emissions -- could be drastically cut through such efficiencies.

And, well, if one considers associated costs (rail use for moving coal and not other things; mercury pollution; health impacts of coal pollution; mountain top removal damage remediation) of using fossil fuels, moving off them (cutting CO2 emissions) looks like an even better deal.

Lomborg is greatly misleading. For more discussions of his false approaches, see: "Why we can't trust 'em: skeptics and misrepresenting evidence ..." (http://energysmart.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/why-we-cant-trust-em-skeptics-and-misrepresenting-evidence/)

A Siegel
Energize America (www.ea2020.org)

Sep. 06 2007 10:41 AM
Peter from NYC

I agree with many of the comments above.

There is so much that could be done to easily reduce consumption, but I'm afraid that it won't happen voluntarily, it will have to be imposed.

What about limiting car engines to 100 hp (it's more than enough); until very recently at least, most cars in Europe had less than that and they were certainly powerful enough.

Reducing speed limits again would save an enormous quantity of fuel.

Biofuels are not the answer even with zero emission vehicles unless consumption is drastically reduced; the fertilizer that would certainly (and unnecessarily) be used to produce much of it is yet another pollution problem.

Billions of kilowatts are wasted on unnecessary lighting and on convenience electronics.

Limiting families globally to two children would go a long way to reducing consumption of raw materials and stopping the deforestation of the Amazon and other tropical forests.

During the second world war changes were imposed overnight to aid the war effort; it can be done again to save the world from an unprecedented global crisis which will be a far greater inconvenience.

Sep. 05 2007 01:10 PM
David Alexander from PlanetThoughts.org

Quite disturbing... he ignores many facts, and earns income by playing the skeptic game well. For example, with polar bears, yes, they were in a precarious state in the 1960s, and have bounced back. However, their numbers are still quite limited, and a large shift in climate that melts northern ice will strongly threaten extinction in the wild.

It is nice to play the "cool head" image to the hilt, to get those who believe in left-wing conspiracy theories, and those who just don't want to worry, to buy into the dangerous cool-aid promoted in his book.

The author's one valid point appears to be that careful analysis should be done before acting. That applied to early windmill designs, and probably now applies to the mad rush to create more biofuels. But I fear that the author is selling his modest insight, and not an insight that is in any way unique to him, to the market place.

No one I know of, and I know many in the environmental field, is promoting panic - but building a more sustainable economy, less based on declining foreign fuels, more based on abundant sun and wind (and they CAN replace the great bulk of national energy needs in, for the example, the United Stated), does not sound like panic to me. It sounds like much-needed common sense.

Sep. 04 2007 01:29 PM
eric fluger from jersey city

i found this refreshing (if a bit off the mark in places).

i've been involved with environmental stuff on and off for decades. i'm very glad to see revitalized public interest in evironmental issues in general and climate change stuff in particular. however, i'm also concerned that an public climate (sorry) of panic may lead to imprudent public policies such as excessive deployment of fusion plants before less problematic options have been exhausted.

so generally speaking i welcome a suggestion to take a deep breath and think carfully about the likely real consequences of real actions.

more specifically, i DO think that limiting green house gas emisions IS very important. however i think we need to go about it rationally and not get paniced or railraoded by opportinists seeking to exploit our legitamate concerns. (you can paint a pig green, but it's still a pig.) there are better and worse ways to pursue the same goal.

i also agree that heightened awareness of climate change will not make other issues magically evaporate. i consider this important not only because there are other issues competing for resouces, but because some of those other problems may be complementary with climate change issues in some helplful ways and point toward policies or practices that are helpful in more than one problem area.

Sep. 04 2007 01:05 PM
Kyle from Red Bank, NJ

http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/

Site written and maintained by Kare Fog. It appears Denmark doesn't like the guy very much he has to come and invade the US to peddle his wares.

I'm all for debate about things as important as global climate change, I think there are a number of issues that are only being portrayed as being "one sided" but Mr. Lomborg is not the "Galileo*" he believes himself to be.

*(Fog's term for him)

Sep. 04 2007 12:54 PM
Gene from NYC

What does Lomborg have to say about PETA's position that it is the meat industry that is the largest atmosphere producer, through methane (cow farts and belches), deforestation, etc.?

Sep. 04 2007 12:37 PM
SL from New York New York

Trevor -I believe you are right.

Sep. 04 2007 12:35 PM
Trevor from LIC

Perhaps the book should be called "The Reactionary Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming".

Sep. 04 2007 12:30 PM
Trevor from LIC

The Kyoto Protocol is an international, uniform government-backed policy. Lomborg is essentially indirectly advocating corporate "self regulation" so as to be more "efficient" and to save money to help the short term quarterly profit statements.

The only way to fight global warming will be top-down legislation from non-collusive leadership (I won't hold my breath). To think the Mcdonaldized American culture will be able to effectively build grass roots efforts to reduce waste is not realistic.

In short, multinationals and their hijacking of world governments via corporate libertarianism are throwing the proverbial cinder blocks into the environmental movement's spokes...

Sep. 04 2007 12:30 PM
S L from New York

What does an associate professor of statistics,
who has no background in scientific research related to biology, ecology or environmental science, know about global warming? Give me a break! His arguments are not peer-reviewed. He is no authority on the subject.
By the way what or who funds his writing and publicity mongering?

Sep. 04 2007 12:26 PM
Trevor from LIC

It really sounds like to me Lomborg is a corporate apologist attempting to mitigate public opinion about carbon emissions so as to delay any real action about global warming.

Consumer capitalism and overpopulation are not compatible with the Earth's ecosystem, and we are seeing the effects of a culture built on the exploitation of finite resources coming to a head. To believe the same way of life can continue indefinitely into future generations is absurd and reflects our culture's myopic, ignorant view of history. In essence, we are still living out the nightmare of the Industrial Revolution coming full circle...

Walter Benjamin! Thou should'st be living at this hour!

Sep. 04 2007 12:23 PM
Kay from NYC

I appreciate Mr. Lomborg's goal of bringing the debate about global warming to a more sensible tenor; however, I object to some of his assertions. He makes the mistake than many non-geological scientists make, which is to assume that "warming" means that there will be more heat waves, and that consequently, there will be fewer cold waves. This is a misconception, and reveals Mr. Lomborg's weakness in this field. The climate issue should be called "Global Climate Change", not "Global Warming." The climate models of the 70's predict greater variability and greater unpredictability in our climate system. The net planetary effect may be a warmer world, but the effect will not be uniform. Some areas of the world may be significantly colder, especially if the North Atlantic current weakens as a result of increased glacial meltwater. Statistics don't answer everything, Mr. Lomborg. These problems are more appropriately publicized by climate scientists who have the long, historical view of climate change.

Sep. 04 2007 12:22 PM

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