The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Bjorn Lomborg, a.k.a. the “Skeptical Environmentalist”, Now Says Global Warming is a Chief Concern for the World

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 1, 2010

Wow, what a difference a decade makes.  Those of us who have been following the science of climate change & global warming for the last ten years will recall a book that came out in 2001 titled “The Skeptical Environmentalist” – authored by an economist named Bjorn Lomborg. This book was widely perceived by many to have been the opening shot in what some call the modern “climate wars”; Lomborg was viewed as someone who looked at the growing scientific consensus on global warming and dismissed it.  Because of this, for quite some time, Lomborg has been somewhat of a folk hero to global warming deniers

Well, in a turnabout which rings of truth being stranger than fiction, Bjorn Lomborg is now changing his mind on the issue: he now states publicly, in a new book coming out later this month, that human-induced global warming is “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and “a challenge humanity must confront”.  In fact, he is even proposing a multi-billion dollar international fund to tackle the problem directly!

Read more about this in the following Guardian article on the matter…

Bjørn Lomborg: $100bn a year needed to fight climate change

The world’s most high-profile climate change sceptic is to declare that global warming is “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and “a challenge humanity must confront”, in an apparent U-turn that will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby.

Bjørn Lomborg, the self-styled “sceptical environmentalist” once compared to Adolf Hitler by the UN’s climate chief, is famous for attacking climate scientists, campaigners, the media and others for exaggerating the rate of global warming and its effects on humans, and the costly waste of policies to stop the problem.

But in a new book to be published next month, Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. “Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century,” the book concludes. …

While I’m quite pleased to see Lomborg’s change in position on this, I also agree that his new stance isn’t necessarily a reversal, per se, as some in the media have billed it. It seems that he’s always accepted the fact that the planet is warming, and been reasonably accepting of a human-induced component of said warming. I think the real big issue that he seems to have had in the past is that there was too much uncertainty in the data and how to effectively (if at all) address the question; as a result, he concluded that this was not an issue of great concern.  And, of course, the fact that he was practically the point man on challenging climate change science early in the 21st century cannot be ignored.

At least, that’s my take on it all.

Curiously, I shared this news with a colleague who strongly questions any climate change science (I think for ideological reasons), and he basically dismissed Lomborg’s “reversal” outright. I’m guessing that Lomborg will find himself universally astrocized: many on the GW-denying side will likely label him as “irrelevant” or a “traitor” or whatnot, whereas some of the more zealous folk on the other side will call him an “opportunist” or something similar.

And, for a man who I believe has finally – given the massive weight of the evidence – publicly admitted his error on this issue, I think a dismissal of his voice right now would be quite a loss.

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One Response to “Bjorn Lomborg, a.k.a. the “Skeptical Environmentalist”, Now Says Global Warming is a Chief Concern for the World”

  1. Sounds like the Conversion of St. Paul, if a religious reference is permissible :-)>

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