Bjorn Lomborg’s Message Meets Reality

Mon, 2008-04-14 20:13Mitchell Anderson
Mitchell Anderson's picture

Bjorn Lomborg’s Message Meets Reality


Bjorn Lomborg had an embarrassing encounter with truth this month.

The Skeptical Environmentalist has made a lucrative career of jetting around the world on media tours telling the public that dealing with climate change will endanger the world’s poorest people.

The United Nations doesn’t see it that way. Last week the World Health Organization issued a statement for World Health Day recognizing that climate change will devastate populations in developing countries. Increasing incidence of dengue fever and malaria are the hallmarks of what is in store for the world’s poorest people.

“Malaria-carrying mosquitoes represent the clearest tell tale sign that global warming has begun to impact human health”, said WHO director Shigeru Omi.

Warmer weather means mosquitoes’ breeding cycles are shortening, allowing them to multiply at a much faster rate, posing an even greater threat of disease, he told reporters in Manila.

UN Secretary General BanKi-moon was also unequivocal about the impact of climate change on developing nations:

“The impact will be most severe in poor countries, which have contributed least to this global crisis. By 2020, up to a quarter of a billion Africans will experience increased water stress and crop yields in some African countries are expected to drop by half. Malnutrition and climate-related infectious diseases will take their heaviest toll on the most vulnerable: small children, the elderly and the infirm. Women living in poverty face particular risk when natural disasters and other global-warming-related dangers strike.”

The recent surge in food prices and resulting riots around the globe are, in part, widely attributed to the first hints of global warming.

For his part, Lomborg says that climate change won’t be all that bad.

“It’s not the immediate catastrophe that it’s often sold as… In the UK it’s estimated we will see 2,000 more heat deaths every year in 2050 but we will also see 20,000 fewer cold deaths… Actually it’s going to be better in that particular area….”

I’m not sure that pithy analysis from Lomborg will be a comfort to the legions of people in developing countries devastated by rising temperatures and declining rainfall. Expect to see more such first-world drivel and ivory tower number crunching from the Copenhagen Consensus 2008 conference.

This event is where right wing economists selected by Lomborg hold forth on climate science, and public health, and other weighty matters they know very little about. Their last conference in 2004 concluded that reducing carbon emissions was the least cost-effective way to save the planet.

Bjorn Lomborg has been on the road ever since, delivering his highly irresponsible message that immediate action on reducing emissions can wait, and that any effort spent doing so will endanger the world’s poorest.

If the dismal science of economics had a terrible reputation before, Lomborg is making it even worse.

Previous Comments

They Said:
“The recent surge in food prices and resulting riots around the globe are, in part, widely attributed to the first hints of global warming.”
This articel is such crap I hardly know hwere to start.
1. poeple starving is because of the Stupid Biofuel fad that was promoted by the idiots in the UN. The same people that brought us the oil for food scam.

2. Bjorn jetting around the world making money? You mean like Al Gore. BTW He was Booed and heckled in of all places Sanfrancisco last week.

3. The malaria epedemic is because of another greenie stupid knee jerk reaction, the banning of DDT.

4. What in hell do you think the WHO are going to say, they are heavely invested in Carbon trading scams and will lose big time if the Truth gets out about AGW.

Good Grief. Sheer utter nonsense.

Bjorn is I am sure the only environmentalist with half a clue.

1) Combination false dilemma and strawman. This point amounts to “Biofuel made from corn causes problems, therefore all biofuel ever made from anything anywhere at anytime is evil”. In addition, if we weren’t so addicted to high oil consumption, there would be no economic incentive to stress food supplies with food-based biofuel production.

2) Gore’s Law in one. Almost a new record.

3) You’re still persisting on the DDT ban myth? I’d thought that one was on the way out as people realized how easy it was to demonstrate as incorrect.

4) Of course, the WHO would go completely against its own stated mandate (completely compromising its current and future prospects) in the name of short-term monetary gain without a single protest by any member, because they’re all a part of the Worldwide Warmist Conspiracy. I’ll be over here with Occam, thank you.

Calling Lomborg an environmentalist with his own dismal track record on environmental information (linked in this very post), not to mention his documented verdict of scientific dishonesty a few years back, is either tremendously misinformed or a direct insult toward environmentalists.

3) Right because the only legal use for DDT is disease vector control its only banned use is for agricultural purposes. Not to mention all the documented hazards and damaging effects it does have which is why its use is contraversial. Knee jerk, is laughable, go drink some DDT there Troll its harmless right?

“Gore’s Law in one. Almost a new record.”

The record is zero, which is unbeatable. At this rate we’ll have to open a new record for the number of words before Gore’s Law appears.

“Of course, the WHO would go completely against its own stated mandate (completely compromising its current and future prospects) in the name of short-term monetary gain without a single protest by any member, because they’re all a part of the Worldwide Warmist Conspiracy. I’ll be over here with Occam, thank you.”

Yeah, and need I mention again that in order for the conspiracy theory to work, you’ll also need all the world’s mainstream economists – pretty much everyone except Lomborg and the inactivist think-tank-o-sphere – to be part of the Great Warmist Conspiracy?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- International Journal of Inactivism
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

“The recent surge in food prices and resulting riots around the globe are, in part, widely attributed to the first hints of global warming.” – The problem with this statement is that there has not been any discernable global warming to date – and in fact, due to one of the coldest winters on record – many crops have been lost to frost. If it reamains cold, and we have a short growing season this summer we will experience even greater food shortages. The current shortages can be attributed (in part) to biofuels, but likely a greater contributor is rising fuel prices. Global warming “solutions” such as carbon taxes will clearly make an already bad situation worse. Actually, I think it is reprehensible that any group would attempt to promote its mssg. (e.g. desmog and global warming) by exploiting the current food crisis.

“…I think it is reprehensible…”

You miss the point. Warmists don’t give a rat’s derriere about humanity. As long as Hansen, Mann and their ilk can massage their pitiful little egos, Gore, Suzuki and the carbon “traders” can extract obscene profits from the suckers, and the grumpy ’60s retreads who infest the blogosphere have an outlet for their “people are a virus” and “let them eat cake” attitudes, all’s right with the warmist world.

Welcome to the really nasty side of environmental activism, Lindal.

I agree with ZOG and Lindal. This is the same argument the left have always used. They use the poor of the world as hostages.

By now it is a red warning flag (pun intended), that whenever someone claims to be acting on behalf of “the poor”, they are, in fact, trying to justify some type of collectivist ideology.

History shows us how bankrupt and misanthropic that course of action really is. Never have so many people died – of starvation, no less – than under the yoke of collectivism.

The contemporary socialists, in the guise of “environmentalists” need to be held to account on this.

A Few quotes from our caring Friends.
The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States: We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are. And it is important to the rest of the world to make sure that they don’t suffer economically by virtue of our stopping them.—Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

If you ask me, it’d be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won’t give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other.—Amory Lovins in The Mother Earth–Plowboy Interview, Nov/Dec 1977, p.22

We advocate biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake. It may take our extinction to set things straight.—David Foreman, Earth First!

Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.—Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!

To address the first comment, ecological footprints have been developed in order to assess the overall land space required to support the consumption levels of a person based on life style. In other words for every person to live there is a land value assigned with ones consumption of resources, fuel, food, air, and water etc. The average American life style would require approximately 4 earths to support that lifestyle if everyone were to live according to this style.
(Wackernagel, M. and Rees, W. 1996. Our Ecological Footprint; Reducing Human Impact on the Earth)

I agree 3rd world countries need to raise their standards of living, how do you propose they do this, without having more earths to support that type of life style cant clone more earths?……How is the question I propose to you

Once again a misinformed or misleading comment, confusing weather and climate.

Lindal, the variability of weather including events such as El Nino & La Nina hides the slow warming signal of climate change in the short term, but when properly measured and charted over decades, these blips are averaged-out and shown to be insignificant.

What P/R evidence do you have for your statement?
‘there has not been any discernible global warming to date’

A carbon tax on fuel consumed in a first world nation, by my logic shouldn’t effect the prices of crops grown in 3rd world countries. Most of them don’t even use any farm machinery on the small scale. If you consider most 3rd world countries have no significant greenhouse gas emissions they wouldn’t be subject to any carbon taxing systems. The problem lies in those countries not being able to produce enough food for the populations they contain, so in that sense transport of foods to them could be subject to carbon taxing

Them not being able to produce sustainable amounts of food, has been an ongoing issue for years, explosive population growth with no significant increases in agricultural capacity in many poor nations. Industrialization of India and china, increases in middle class and subsequent increases in standards of living i.e. protein and processed food contents goes up is leading to increasing stress on food production. The world grain reserve was estimated at 115 days in 1998, 57 in 2006, at its lowest since record keeping started in 1960. This is a pattern of decreasing in the food supply for some time now, its not a just this past year occurrence that you seem to think is only due to this year or the past 5. Its been an ongoing problem and only now are people really starting to run into problems.

The larger question untouched is that the rising fuel prices are also due the less oil available due to higher demand. I don’t suspect there is anything that can be done as the prices will continue to rocket upwards as supply cannot keep up with demand, unless something radical happens in terms of consumption, peek is really not that far off into the future anyway so this is likely going to be an ongoing issue.

The US political framework on biofuels is not for greenhouse gas emissions, though this might be a side benefit, the main concern is for energy independence to remove itself from foreign (i.e. non north American oil) to even think the focus is mainly for greenhouse gas emissions is overlooking the context in which many US politicians frame their support for bio fuel. IE fuel produced by US farmers seems to be a lot better system than putting cash in their pockets of middle east oil cartels.

I am not sure how you can blame biofuel production for the recent food shortage, this has been an ongoing problem, every year inching towards this, long before biofuels took off. Even if all biofuel production stopped problems like this are going continue and get far worse, and I certainly don’t think American arguments for energy independence are going to stop either.

There are a few articles who claim that Bio fuels is a problem.
Besides Burning food just so we can go for ride in a car is morally wrong.

Ethanol (E85) = 80,000 BTUs, Gasoline = 125,000 BTUs (per gallon) Meaning we would need to burn even more E85 to travel the same distance per gallon. Fewer km per(ltr) and more costly.
Plants remove CO2 from the we cut more plants so we can burn them to produce more CO2…something wrong with this picture?

Biofuel Brews up Higher German Beer Prices (MSNBC)
Biofuel Demand Makes Food Expensive (BBC)
Biofuels Could Lead to Mass Hunger Deaths: U.N. Envoy (Reuters)
Corn to Blame for Rising Food Prices (ABC News)
Ethanol Being Blamed for Global Food Riots (Business & Media Institute)
Ethanol fuels food price frenzy (Financial Post, Canda)
Ethanol Mandates Could Drive Up Food Prices, Enviros Say (CNSNews)
Ethanol Production, Worldwide Demand Sends Prices for Dairy Goods Soaring (MSNBC)
Germany’s Cheap Beer Tradition Under Threat From Biofuels (Deutsche Welle)
IMF Warns About Impact of Biofuels on Food Prices (Forbes)
How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor (The New York Times)
Mexicans Torch Tequila Fields for Ethanol Boom Corn (Reuters)
Milk Prices Soar as Government Backs Ethanol (The Daily Green)
More Ethanol, Less Sugar (The New York Times)
Think Tank Warns Biofuel Will Lead to Rocketing Food Prices (Vnunet, UK)

And ever growing world population, increased standards of living of India and China, decreased yields world wide, rapidly decreasing grain supply, and most importantly shortage of fuel in general, arnt the major issue? Just to clairify as well, biofuel in theory is carbon neutral, as every unit of CO2 produced though combustion was also fixed into the plant through photosynthesis, a balance if you will. Agriculutural practices are likely to offset that balance though as fertilizer applications are energy intensive, though proper crop soil mangement stratagies are able to add carbon into the soil.

Taken from the government of Canada website. The official policy of the government of Canada is…..

“”One of the main arguments put forward to encourage biofuel production is that biofuels will be a reliable source of energy and will decrease dependence on fossil fuels. However, a preliminary assessment of the extent to which the potential ethanol or biodiesel supply meets those fuel needs is disappointing. Global production is still too small and the need for raw materials is still too high for biofuels to have a significant impact on the fuel market and be able to compete with fossil fuels.””

In 2007 also according to the government of Canada the United States replaced 3% of its annual fuel consumption with biofuels…..3%! thats nearly insignificant to the total amount of fuel consumed….

The whole issue centres around a shortage of fossil fuel! and an ever increasing demand for energy resources where there is a shortage, the addiction to consumption is the problem, not the fuel production itself, this is mearly the symptom of the problem. Bio Fuel production is not a matter of greenhouse gas emissions reductions but alterantive fuel sources to suppliment and help meet energy demand, to frame the arguement that somehow enervironmentaly motivated governments are producing fuel for this purposes actually ignores the stated policy of government! Or perhaps you think the Conserative party is lieing about why we are producing biofuels?

You can stop all bio fuel production and you will still have exceedinly high energy prices and have a shortage of supply (likely higher), low grain supply, ever increasing world population, production issues in 3rd world nations, increased risks of crop failure, distribution problems……Those are the real sources of the shortage

The Canadian government has budgeted money for ethanol initiatives. This is probably because some of their Conservative buddies have been registered lobbyists for or on the Board of organizations such as the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.

I think biofuels are more of a money making boondoggle than a way to reduce global warming.

The greenhouse gas emission reduction if we could get up to ~20% of our fuel being derived from bio fuel sources is a reduction of………5% of emissions….Source Government of Canada. Seriously bio fuel is not a solution to greenhouse gas emissions and no one ever thought it was. Its to suppliment shrinking supplies of oil that are rapidly becoming more expensive. Its a matter if energy policy not environmental.

We are erm, burning food while people starve.

Wilbert, Wilbert, Wilbert… <_<

There are other sources of biofuel besides grain. There have been promising developments in algae-based biofuel production, for instance, which doesn’t take up any food supplies nor any food-producing land. With that in mind your quotes amount to nothing more than FUD against all biofuel ever made from anything anywhere at anytime.

Second, you seem to have your carbon cycle screwed up. Simplified: Plants remove CO2 from the air. If those plants are harvested and burned as biofuel, they put CO2 back into the air. Where did that CO2 come from? It’s the same CO2 they took out of the air just a little earlier. How can they possibly have produced “more” CO2 than that? This process itself is carbon-neutral. (The problem comes in the harvesting of the plants and the production of biofuel, which is at the moment handled by fossil fuels – stored carbon from millions of years ago.)

And all of this sets aside other methods of power generation that show promise, i.e. concentrated solar thermal power, which currently isn’t being funded (in favor of giving more subsidies to oil and coal).

The food crops thing is a combination of
1. Crappy weather
2. BioFuels production
3. Oil Speculation (Because that biofuel is just as functionally valuable as oil)

Combine those all together, and yeah things are pretty screwed.


Frankly though, there might be some beneficial biofuels, but we aren’t making any of them commercially today.

Essentially all conventional biofuels besides TRUE waste (which is so small it might as well not even be considered) are worse for the environment than petroleum.

A few reports on the subject:
Mark Delucchi 2005
Tad Patzek 2006
Paul Crutzen 2007
Alex Farrell 2008
Tim Searchinger 2008
Joseph Fargione 2008
EU Commission’s Joint Research Centre 2008
UK Royal Society 2008
UK Environmental Audit Committee 2008
Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency 2008
etc etc

REAP Canada’s February 2008 report on biofuels to a parliamentary subcommittee is available here:

The IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development) Report has just been released. The IAASTD is an international body which has been set up in a very similar manner to the IPCC. Their mandate is to look at the best methods to ensure that agricultural needs for the future are met.

There are chapters on bio-energy, biotechnology, climate change, human health and a few other areas.

The report was written by over 400 scientists active in the field (excuse the pun) and was signed by 60 countries. Only three countries in attendance refused to sign, Canada, the USA and Australia. All have governments very strongly allied to the GMO industry.

I have not read it yet but it seems to discuss some of the questions raised on a number of threads here.

The report can be found at:

Ian Forrester

“Bjorn Lomborg had an embarrassing encounter with truth this month.”

This is turning realities upside down.

The truth is that Bjorn Lomborgs critics has had an embarrassing encounter with truth this month. And no bullshitting or cream cake throwing can change that.


California Governor Jerry Brown used the occasion of his fourth inaugural address to propose an ambitious new clean energy target for the state: 50% renewable energy by 2030.

“We are at a crossroads,” Brown said in announcing the proposal, according to Climate Progress. “The challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it, to live within our means and to keep California ever golden and creative.”

Already the leader in installed solar...

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