Lomborg Denies Global Warming Conversion - I Told You So

Remember the silly Guardian story from a couple of weeks back that breathlessly revealed that Skeptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg had made "an apparent U-turn" on man-made global warming that "will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby." In an op/ed in The Wall Street Journal, Lomborg explains that The Guardian made it all up. (OK, maybe the British near-tabloid just exaggerated and very selectively quoted him.) In any case, Lomborg notes that a panel of eminent economists one of his Copenhagen Consensus Conferences in 2008 basically rejected the carbon rationing scheme that is embodied in the Kyoto Protocol as too costly and ineffective.

Last year, Lomborg convened another group of economists to rank proposed policies to address future warming. The panel found that geoengineering and R&D on low carbon energy technologies would be worth pursuing, but they still rejected carbon rationing. As Lomborg explains in his op/ed:

Our experts (including three Nobel laureates) identified a number of other approaches to the problem that were economically feasible and likely to have a quicker and more powerful impact.

The most promising involved massive increases in R&D funding for green energy technologies and geo-engineering. I spent a good part of last year and most of this year advocating for this sensible approach to solving global warming, which is "one of the chief concerns facing the world today," as I said in an Aug. 31 interview with the Guardian, the British newspaper.

What happened next was startling. The Guardian reported my commonplace observation as evidence of "an apparent U-turn" by "the world's most high-profile climate change skeptic." This set off a media stampede; news organizations around the world scrambled to report my so-called change of heart.

I tried to explain that I had always considered climate change to be a problem. The only thing that had changed was that we finally had some good solutions to consider. Some people took the point, but just as many didn't. As far as the latter group was concerned, I had finally seen the light, and that was that.

I suppose I should take some comfort in the fact that I've been accused of being both a denier and a warmist. But the polarized nature of the global warming debate is no laughing matter. Limiting the debate to only two valid positions—for or against—makes a constructive discussion impossible. If we truly want to make progress on climate change, we must acknowledge a middle way—one that recognizes that while we do need to deal with the reality of global warming, solutions based on worst-case scenarios will actually do more harm than good.

The smart middle path means making green energy so cheap everyone wants it. There's nothing confusing about it.

So no conversion to carbon rationing. I told you so.

By the way, Lomborg's plan to greatly expand government R&D on low carbon energy technologies is very similar to the plan being pushed by techno-optimistic environmentalists Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger at the Breakthrough Institute. Both plans suffer from the same defects.

Government may simply be an inadequate (perhaps even counterproductive) technology for solving the problems posed by man-made global warming.

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  • Suki||

    Good morning again reason!

    Ron, are you backing off of your crazy Obamanian carbon tax scheme or are you just commenting?

  • Suki||

    Also, reason polo model has a much better presentation than Lomborg.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Whatever. Lomborg is still an environmentalist searching for a public policy fix to a nonexistent problem.

  • Zeb||

    It is equally foolish to claim with certainty that it is a non-existant problem as it is to claim that the end of the world is at hand if we don't stop burning things immediately. Nobody really understands how climate works, certainly not you or I.

  • fish||

    Tony and Chad do!

    Hater!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re Zeb,

    Nobody really understands how climate works, certainly not you or I.

    It is more foolish to presume to know how to fix a problem derived from a phenomenon no one understands. Snake oil was sold under such presumption:

    "It cures gout!"
    "How?"
    "I don't know! But it does! Trust me!"
    "But how do I know I have gout?"
    "If you drink this and it goes away, then you will know!"

  • Brother Wolf||

    The burden of proof is always on the one making the claim. Therefore, given the severity of the "cure" and impact on our everyone's lives that reducing carbon emissions will have, the climate scientists must make a really freaking good case for Global warming. AND.. there should be 100% transparency, openness, etc.

  • ||

    I assure you, if you have gout, you will know.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    True. But at least he advocates a run-of-the-mill boondoggle solution, instead of intentionally screwing up the entire 1st world economy and/or converting to Gaeaism.

  • Old Mexican||

    Government may simply be an inadequate (perhaps even counterproductive) technology for solving the problems posed by man-made global warming.

    That is true also for pretty much every other problem you can think of.

  • Old Mexican||

    By the way, Lomborg's plan to greatly expand government R&D on low carbon energy technologies is very similar to the plan being pushed by techno-optimistic environmentalists Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger at the Breakthrough Institute. Both plans suffer from the same defects.

    Yep - they're both pretty much useless.

  • ||

    I reiterate that studying temperature trends only opens the the door to government action.

  • Oso Politico||

    Actually, that is true of just about all statistics that the State collects. How many economists would be on the dole if they didn't have 'economic' stats to feed off? And then the social engineers would be out of a job too. Or at least I can wish it would be so...

  • ||

    The most promising involved massive increases in R&D funding for green energy technologies and geo-engineering.

    Throw more money!

    Pretty much what i would expect from a panel of "Nobel Laureates".

  • ||

    Throw more (of someone else's) money!

    I believe that is what you implied, but I thought I'd make it clear.

  • Eric Olsen||

    i (heart) Lomborg. "Cool It" is still one of my favorite libertarian evangelistic books written by an admitted socialist.

  • Patrick||

    Governements may very well be counterproductive at managing the R&D required to make alternative energy sources as cheap as existing methods, but, they do have a great opportunity.

    In line with Rocky Mountain Institutes call for 'Conservation, Efficiency, Renewables', all levels of government should have their facilities audited and start national or state-wide competition for the most innovative solutions to inherent problems.

    Governments are full priced buyers (often over paying), have massive unattended infrastructure, and need to spending. By increasing the efficiency of government buildings they would cut energy prices, stimulate innovation, and let the best technologies rise to the top, not sponsor a select few.

  • ||

    The smart middle path means making green energy so cheap everyone wants it. There's nothing confusing about it.

    "Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit outta muh hat!"

  • Rocky||

    But that trick never works.

  • ||

    Presto!

  • jtuf||

    I read the Skeptical Envrionmentalist back in grad school. Lomborg said back then that he believes in Global Warming but that the plans to stop it are worse than the damage that the Global Warming would cause. He advocated adapting to a warmer plantet instead. He hasn't change much since then.

  • ||

    What the Guardian did to Lomborg is like getting a file photo of Al Gore sitting on a Gulfstream V (there must be hundreds out there) and using it to claim Gore doesn't give a fuck about carbon output.

    Oh, wait. That kind of is Al Gore's M.O. He only gives a fuck about my carbon output. Right.

  • ||

    Alt alt text: "Let's dance!"

  • ||

    Lomborg seems like a man becoming increasingly desperate in his attempts to both have his cake and eat it.

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