Resources for journalists - FAQ
A Response by Bjorn Lomborg to Howard Friel’s ‘The Lomborg Deception’
Bjorn Lomborg has written a detailed response debunking Howard Friel’s claims in ‘The Lomborg Deception.”
Q: Wasn't Bjorn Lomborg proved scientifically dishonest?
A: No. Using a critique written by Lomborg's critics in the Scientific American (January 2002), the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) found that The Skeptical Environmentalist was objectively scientifically dishonest on January 7 2003. However, on December 17 2003, the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation completely rescinded this finding. It released a 70-page evaluation criticizing at least 13 points in the DCSD report, three of which individually would have led to it being rescinded. It found the DCSD verdict "dissatisfactory", "deserving [of] criticism" and "emotional." Most importantly, the Ministry found "that the DCSD has not documented where [Lomborg] has allegedly been biased in his choice of data and in his argumentation, and that the [DCSD] ruling is completely void of argumentation." The case was finally dropped by DCSD March 12 2004. While Lomborg's critics continue to quote the DCSD's 2003 verdict, it has been rescinded and found to be "dissatisfactory," "emotional" and "completely void of argumentation." An independent Dutch group of scientists analyzed the DCSD verdict and found that the comittee "delivered an almost totally political verdict."
Q: Does Lomborg deny man-made global warming exists?
A: No. In Cool It he writes: "global warming is real and man-made. It will have a serious impact on humans and the environment toward the end of this century" (p8).
Q: But he used to deny it, didn't he?
A: No. In both his first Danish book in 1998 and the English version of The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001, Bjorn Lomborg stressed that man-made global warming exists. The introduction to the section on climate change in The Skeptical Environmentalist clearly states, "This chapter accepts the reality of man-made global warming" (p259).
Q: Does he believe we should do anything about global warming?
A: Yes. As Bjorn Lomborg argues in 'Cool It', we should focus on the smartest solutions to the problems that the world faces, whether we're dealing with climate change, communicable diseases, malnutrition, agricultural subsidies, or anything else. Lomborg finds that the smartest way to tackle global warming is to invest heavily in R&D in non-carbon emitting technologies, which will enable everyone to switch over to cheaper-than-fossil-fuel technologies sooner and thus dramatically reduce the 21st century emissions. Specifically, he suggests a ten-fold increase in R&D in non-CO2 -emitting energy technologies like solar, wind, carbon capture, fusion, fission, energy conservation etc.... This is entirely in line with the top recommendation from the Copenhagen Consensus 2008, which includes some of the word's top economists and five Nobel Laureates. Lomborg also supports a CO 2 tax comparable with the central or high estimates of CO2 damages. That means an estimate in the range of $2-14 per ton of CO 2, but not the unjustifiably high taxes of $20-40 implicit in Kyoto or the even higher ones ($85) suggested by the Stern report or Gore ($140).
Q: Hasn't Kaare Fog produced a copious list of how wrong Lomborg is?
A: It is true that Fog has been very productive in his claims (http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/), and has been so since the publication of Lomborg's book in 1998 in Danish. However, Lomborg has answered Fog many times in publications, most clearly when Fog edited a book with arguments against Lomborg in 1999. Lomborg published a web-book of 180 pages painstakingly going through each argument in Fog's book, pointing out its unproductive errors and misunderstandings, Lomborg likewise replied to each and every of the first batch of claims from Fog to the DCSD, pointing out how they were incorrect and/or misleading. However, with limited time, Lomborg cannot reply to every new claim from Fog. Moreover, it would seem reasonable that Fog would have used his best counterarguments first, and clearly these have not stood up.
Q: Does Lomborg have a rebuttal of Fog's arguments in English?
Partial English version, a short version of the Danish reply:
Q: Did Lomborg always want to get involved in the environmental debate?
A: No. It all started in 1997, when Bjorn Lomborg read a Wired Magazine interview with economist Julian Simon claiming that the environment - contrary to common understanding - was getting better, not worse. Lomborg thought this had to be incorrect ("right wing, American propaganda"). Looking for new ways to get his students involved, in the fall of 1997 he organized a study group with some of his top students to prove Simon wrong. Much to everyone's surprise, much (though definitely not everything) of what Simon said was right. Thus the group set out to write about their results in op-eds in Denmark's leading newspaper, Politiken. They published four lengthy articles with fifty footnotes in each, sparking a firestorm debate spanning over 400 articles in all the major metropolitan newspapers. The articles led to the publication of a Danish book later that year and to The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001.
Q: What is the difference between the American and the British publications of the Cool it?
A: The two books' message is identical, but the UK version is an extended version, with much more text and 59 graphs.