Bjørn Lomborg is one of those most difficult of men: An engagingly active and intelligent academic who questions the scientific consensus on climate change.
Not so much its existence – after all, you’d have an equal shot at challenging the sunrise or sunset as climate change – but its causes, significance and the cost/benefit relationship of any potential mitigation schemes. Under an theory known as welfare economics, Lomborg promotes the notion that the gazzillions of dollars and massive quality of life retrenchments necessary to reduce carbon output to pre-industrial levels might be better spent mitigating starvation, AIDS and malaria epidemics.
This has anathematized him in the legacy media and among vested interests, some of whom appear to believe that humanity is a kind of virus, and that a little more starvation (or at least existential poverty) might not, on balance, be a bad thing.
Lomborg’s first book, “The Skeptical Environmentalist” received withering criticism from environmental scientists, several of whom placed his work before the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty. The DCSD pilloried his work, but declined to call it “dishonest,” claiming that Lomborg – a political scientist – didn’t know enough about climate science to intentionally deceive.
Lomborg successfully lobbied Denmark’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MTSI), who set aside the DCSD report. This made Lomborg’s critics, if anything, more enraged.
One of them, noted climate scientist political author Howard Friel has penned a new book novel claiming to debunk Lomborg’s signature thesis. In this effort he has received the warm admiration of Newsweek‘s science editor, Sharon Begley. As The Armed Liberal points out, Begley’s objectivity is somewhat cast in doubt by the tone of her opening paragraph:
In naming roustabout, lumberjack, ironworker, and dairy farmer America’s “worst jobs,” CareerCast.com omitted one whose awfulness is counterbalanced only by its public-spiritedness: fact-checking Bjørn Lomborg.
The Armed Liberal has a pdf link to Lomborg’s 27-page rebuttal of Friel’s work – it’s an interesting read, and the thrust of it is that Friel is guilty of projecting his own sins on Lomborg.
The whole kerfuffle reminds me of a favorite Ghandi quote: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”