False Alarm will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong. It points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all. A new epilogue details climate lessons from a year of global economic shutdown due to COVID-19, and from our increasingly costly but often very ineffective climate policies
About the book
We live in an age of fear – particularly a fear of climate change. Children line the streets in protest, while adults wonder whether it’s ethical to start a family. Activists warn us that the planet faces ‘slaughter, death, and starvation,’ and Time magazine tells readers to ‘Be worried. Be very worried.’ A 2019 poll found that almost half of the world’s population believes climate change will likely end the human race.
Enough, argues bestselling author, professor and ‘skeptical environmentalist’ Bjorn Lomborg. In False Alarm, Lomborg delves into the data to show that while climate change is real, it is not the apocalyptic threat that we’ve been told it is. Projections of Earth’s imminent demise misconstrue the science and generate bad policy. In a panic, world leaders have committed to wildly expensive but largely ineffective policies that hamper growth, fail to fix climate change smartly, and crowd out other pressing investments in human capital, from nutrition to immunization to education. As the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, we can’t enact major policies without considering their potential unintended consequences.
If you buy only one book on climate change... This should be the book
We are currently spending about $400 billion annually on climate change, and with the many promises of zero carbon emissions, those costs could escalate to tens of trillions in the coming years. But, Lomborg shows, these policies are not paying dividends in terms of reducing global warming. For example, the Paris Agreement in its best-case scenario will achieve just one percent of what the politicians have promised (keeping temperature rises to 2.7°F), and cost $1.2 trillion per year. There are also serious ethical questions about insisting that the developing world align with our climate priorities when they face more pressing issues like feeding and educating their people.
So, what is the way forward? First, Lomborg argues, we need to evaluate climate policy in the same way that we evaluate every other policy: in terms of costs and benefits. Research by the leading climate economists indicates that the best policy approach should include:
• A realistic and effective carbon tax. This, however, will not solve most of the climate problem.
• Investing in green R&D to innovate the price of green energy down below fossil fuels (world leaders including President Obama promised to do so in 2015, but have failed so far).
• Focusing on smart ways to adapt to change, which humans have been doing for centuries.
• Investing in more research on geoengineering technologies, which could mimic natural processes to reduce the earth’s temperature.
• Helping people become more resilient to climate change through prosperity, especially in the world’s poorest countries.
Clear-headed and rigorous, False Alarm reveals widespread misconceptions about climate change – and points the way towards making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all. Buy it on Amazon, or check out the numerous translations here.
Praise for False Alarm
It’s precisely because the problem is so serious that [Lomborg] argues it is necessary to approach it cool-headedly … The alternative? In Lomborg’s view it is letting ourselves be panicked into the most expensive course—trying to fix the climate without having the necessary technology on hand. Lomborg argues powerfully that this is a fool’s errand … A corrective to many of the green assumptions that dominate the media.
Lomborg does not lack solutions. In False Alarm, he advocates a range of cost-benefit tested policies to address both climate change and global poverty.... Lomborg does a service in calling out the environmental alarmism and hysteria that obscure environmental debates rather than illuminate them.
Meticulously researched, and well worth a read.
An excellent summary of the madness, hypocrisy, and cynicism of the climate-alarm establishment.... Lomborg has done an excellent job pointing out that climate fears are indeed a ‘false alarm,’ misdirecting time and resources away from real, and soluble, problems.
An important book. Mr. Lomborg is a long-standing environmentalist regarded as a heretic by hardliners in the movement because he is an optimist who says that humanity is not doomed.
Iain Martin, The Times
Lomborg is persuasive on the vulnerability of Africa and need for greater emphasis on building climate resilience.
The Irish Times
False Alarm is a comprehensive analysis of the issues in climate change that represents a reasoned balance between the shrill voices demanding immediate change (without being aware of the practical issues involved) and those who see no problems at all with our current environmental situation.
New York Journal of Books
Lomborg's most basic premise remains that there are better ways to alleviate human misery than spending taxpayer subsidies than on panic-driven, political non-solutions to a changing climate. Few would argue with that goal.
A detailed...human-centric, optimistic tome from an honest environmentalist.
In between the cries of imminent apocalypse and outright denial that seems to be the daily fare of the mainstream and alternative news outlets on the issue of global warming, Bjorn Lomborg sounds a rare note of sanity and moderation in his new book, False Alarm. Lomborg’s achievement is in providing a much-needed broader context to the climate debate, based on years of researching and writing on the topic… One hopes that this book will bring to the attention of the general public, specialists and policy-makers, not just the scale of the problem of climate change, but the most positive steps that can be taken by governments to address it.
International Journal of World Peace
Lomborg brands climate change warnings as alarmist, and argues that a massive reduction in fossil fuels would exacerbate global poverty, in this detailed account.... Lomborg is careful to back his cost-benefit analyses of climate policies with surveys and statistics.
[Lomborg] follows his previous critiques of climate change policy...with a hard-hitting analysis of failing strategies for addressing what he acknowledges is ‘a real problem.’...A serious, debatable assessment of a controversial global issue.
Bjorn Lomborg’s new book offers a data-driven, human-centered antidote to the oft-apocalyptic discussion characterizing the effect of human activity on the global climate. Careful, compelling, and above all sensible and pragmatic.
Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life
This is a very important and superbly argued book. Those who have been persuaded that climate change is not happening, and those who think catastrophe is imminent should both read it and know they can rely on Lomborg's meticulous analysis to put them right. The rest of us can be alarmed by his relentless revelation that the world is spending a fortune on making the plight of the poor and the state of the environment worse with foolish and expensive policies.
Matt Ridley, author of How Innovation Work
False Alarm is a timely and important book. Based on the latest scientific evidence and rigorous economic analysis, it provides a welcome antidote to widespread, irrational panic about a coming climate apocalypse. Instead, it provides a set of smart, rational policies for addressing global warming -- while not losing sight of the myriad other problems that beset our planet, including poverty and inequality. This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about our shared human future.
Justin Yifu Lin, former chief economist, the World Bank
This is a fantastic book. In it, Bjorn Lomborg examines through the lens of statistics the apocalyptic projections of the future of climate change. He points out, rightly, that the doomsday scenarios are misguided and that policy decisions driven by panic have real costs, particularly for the poor. False Alarm is a must-read.
Bibek Debroy, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India
Bjorn Lomborg is that rare thing: a clear-sighted realist about climate change. In False Alarm, he argues that it would be foolish to do nothing to prepare for a warmer planet, but it would be more foolish to pretend that we are doing things that will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions when we are not. At the same time, getting serious about cutting CO2 emissions will have a cost. As Lomborg says, vastly more people die as a consequence of poverty and disease each year than die as a consequence of global warming. As in the past, we humans are capable of adapting to climate change in ways that can significantly mitigate its adverse effects, without choking off economic growth. To learn how, you must read False Alarm.
Niall Ferguson, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University