Top Climate Skeptic Reverses Course, Now Urges Bold Action

(Also reported on by MC O’Connor here) Bjørn Lomborg may not be a household name around here, but that’s through no fault of his. In November 2001, this Danish environmental author and economics professor was selected “Global Leader for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum. Lomborg was selected as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2004. In June 2002, Business Week named Lomborg one of the “50 Stars of Europe” in the Agenda Setters category. The magazine noted, “No matter what they think of his views, nobody denies that Bjørn Lomborg has shaken the environmental movement to its core.”

Controversy may as well have been his middle name, especially after his book  The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World came out in 2001. The book was critical of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World report “for using short-term trends to predict disastrous consequences, in cases where long-term trends would not support the same conclusions.”

He was particularly outspoken on the subject of global warming whose importance he felt was being overstated. In the book’s introduction he writes, “Global warming, though its size and future projections are rather unrealistically pessimistic, is almost certainly taking place, but the typical cure of early and radical fossil fuel cutbacks is way worse than the original affliction, and moreover its total impact will not pose a devastating problem for our future.”

However, Lomborg has a new book entitled Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits in which he proposes an aggressive $100 billion annual fund specifically targeting global warming solutions such as the familiar list of renewables including wind, wave, and solar as well as nuclear power and a number of more controversial geo-engineering approaches like cloud whitening, which, it has been suggested, might reflect a larger portion of the sun’s heat back into space than ordinary clouds.

Lomborg’s path to his current position was neither short nor straight. In 2003, the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty investigated his work and cited him for fabrication of data, deliberately misleading use of statistical methods and several other charges. However, an appeal to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation invalidated the charges. Needless to say the controversy continues, mostly simmering in academic circles.

As to his present position, Lomborg defends himself vigorously against the dreaded flip-flopper charge, pointing out that he never disputed the existence of manmade warming, but only the details of its severity and more importantly, what actions will be most effective.

The impetus behind this book was his effort to answer the question “If the world is going to spend hundreds of millions to treat climate, where could you get the most bang for your buck?” He now says that an annual investment of $100 billion will eliminate the threat of global warming by the end of this century.

Still his clear reversal comes at a critical point in time when momentum has eroded and major policy initiatives both globally and here in the US have stalled even as industry shills spreading doubt seem to have regrouped and reclaimed a significant chunk of public opinion.

RP Siegel is co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails.

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RP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, and among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 52 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he traveled as the winner of the 2015 Sustainability Week blogging competition.Contact:

15 responses

  1. I guess now there’s more money to be made supporting climate change than nay-saying? And to my understanding, the appeal to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation that invalidated the charges did so because he was declared incompetent. They claimed he was not intentionally misleading, just so incompetent he did not understand the science he was espousing. I hate to be so tied to my old views, and I’ll try and be open minded, but I’ve spent so long frustrated with Lomborg, it’s hard to be excited by this change of heart.

  2. This is good quality news. The debate on the climate is becoming very popular. There are many people who dont believe the climate is have to say half the planet doesnt believe it.

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  7. Everyone has a personal agenda regardless of what they do. Yes, even you. As long as people are following him, I’d rather he be on this side of the fence.

    The upsetting part is that there are people out there who actually refuse to consider the facts. It’s not like people are being asked to believe that the Mets will make the playpffs this season. That’s just ridiculous.

    1. Ian, I don’t usually respond to idiotic comments, but can you explain how scientists “profit” from global warming? If scientists wanted to profit, they’d pretend to disagree so that more studies would have to be performed. They don’t. On either count.

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