In The Skeptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg challenges widely held beliefs that the global environment is progressively getting worse. Using statistical. So the world isn’t doomed after all? Chris Lavers is himself sceptical about Bjørn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the. Bjorn Lomborg is a Danish author and political scientist, and President of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre. He’s best known for his

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Lomborg’s beef is with the litany of doom espoused by certain environmental activists. We’ve all heard the main points many times: Forests are being destroyed, fish stocks are collapsing, 40, species teh year are going extinct and the planet is warming disastrously. The world is falling apart, in other words, and it’s all our fault. These are just scare stories put about by ideologues and promulgated by the media.

The Skeptical Environmentalist | Bjorn Lomborg

There is little evidence that the world is in trouble, he claims, and a good deal more that suggests that we’ve never had it so good. Air skepticzl in the developed world has improved markedly over the last years. Human lomorg expectancy has soared. The hole in the ozone layer is more or less fixed; the global-warming threat has been much exaggerated. And though we worry incessantly about pollution, the lifetime risk of drinking water laden with pesticides at the EU limit is the equivalent of smoking 1.


In short, the world is not falling apart; skdptical, the doom-mongers bjorh led us all down the garden path. Environmental intervention is also unconscionably costly. In other words, Kyoto will buy us six years. To think that our politicians would abandon Kyoto and spend the saved money on wells and drains would be naive in the extreme, but the figures should give every concerned individual pause for thought. These are strong words. For example, long-term growth in the number of species on Earth over the last m years – itself a disputed issue, though you wouldn’t know it – is accredited to “a process of specialisation which is both due to the fact that the Earth’s physical surroundings have become more diverse skeptica, a result of all other species becoming more spe cialised”.

One really has to look further than a UN Environment Programme Report to understand such complex issues. And surely only a statistician could arrive at a figure of 0.

The Skeptical Environmentalist

My greatest concern, however, is with Lomborg’s tone. He is clearly committed to rubbishing the views of hand-picked environmentalists, frequently the very silly ones such as Ehrlich, whom professionals have been ignoring for decades. This selective approach does not inspire much confidence: Who better to manipulate data in support of a particular point of view than a professional statistician?

And who to trust with the task less than someone who argues like a lawyer? The reader should be wary in particular of Lomborg’s passion for global statistics: The area of land covered with trees may not have changed much in the last 50 years, but this is mostly because northern forests have increased in area while the biologically richer tropical ones have declined.


If you want to see how the global trend translates into one particular local context, go to northern Scotland and gaze over the immense plantations of American conifers that have replaced our biologically unique native peatlands. And to balance the books, the area of these noisome tree farms has to be reflected by deforestation somewhere else in the world – Madagascar, perhaps.

That global forest area has remained more or less constant actually tells us nothing about the dnvironmentalist of the environment. So have we been led down the garden path by environmentalists?

Lomborg argues a convincing case with which I have much sympathy, but the reader should perhaps follow the author’s lead and maintain a healthy scepticism. And if you come away with the nagging suspicion that Lomborg has a secret llomborg of data that do not fit his convictions, then you are quite probably a cynic. Topics Science and nature books.