Bjorn Lomborg’s Climate Confusionist Spin Is Never Ending

Fri, 2010-09-17 09:47Jim Hoggan
Jim Hoggan's picture

Bjorn Lomborg’s Climate Confusionist Spin Is Never Ending

Bjorn Lomborg

Bjorn Lomborg is in the spin business, plain and simple.  In his Wall Street Journal op-ed this week, the Danish game theorist pretends to be so surprised that people were confused by his ‘change of heart’ last month – when he suddenly recognised that climate change is “one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and advocated for a $100 billion annual investment and a carbon tax – after years spent arguing that the world shouldn’t spend a penny on the problem. 

Hardly surprising to anyone who has followed Lomborg’s long trail of disingenuous spin, the ‘change of heart’ was nothing more than a ploy manufactured to tease his forthcoming book. 

Spinning like a top, Lomborg starts off his oddly defensive opinion piece with this twister:

After years of being accused of believing something I didn’t believe—or, more accurately, not believing something I really did—I made headlines last month for changing my mind even though I hadn’t.”

Dizzy yet? Well let’s review Lomborg’s history of spin.

Ever since his controversial (and error-ridden) 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Lomborg has minimized the threat posed by global warming, arguing that – while he claims to accept the science documenting that the planet is warming – it is far from a top priority for humanity to confront. 

He argued then, as he does to this day, that the environment has improved over the past few decades and industry has cleaned up its act so there is no need to implement new regulations to curb carbon pollution.  (Of course, he ignores the fact that it was 1970s-era environmental regulations that brought about such air and water quality improvements by forcing industry to clean up its act a bit.)

In Lomborg’s home country, the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty reviewed the 2001 book and identified a litany of dishonest practices, ranging from “Fabrication of data; Selective discarding of unwanted results (selective citation); Deliberately misleading use of statistical methods; Plagiarism; and Deliberate misinterpretation of others’ results.”  

Ironically, the Committee decided it couldn’t reprimand Lomborg because he lacked any inkling of credibility or training in the climate sciences, so they took pity on him and absolved him of responsibility for his errors.  And boy, were there errors!  An independent review by Danish scientist Kare Fog documented 319 specific errors, exaggerations or logical flaws in The Skeptical Environmentalist.

Undeterred by such a thorough debunking, Lomborg used the book to launch a lucrative career on the speaking circuit, especially popular among the Exxon- and Koch Industries-funded climate denier crowd, which loved his efforts to convince people that climate change was too expensive to address and that everyone should focus attention elsewhere on ‘more pressing’ problems. (He completely glosses over the fact that climate change will make most of those other problems worse, of course.)

In his Wall Street Journal piece this week, he argues that if one doesn’t understand the need to drastically cut carbon emissions to avoid dangerous climate disruption, then “you are an antiscientific ignoramus who probably thinks the Earth is flat.”

(With that unflattering characterization, I wonder how many speaking gigs he’ll land at the denier think tanks now?) 

He asserts that the global warming “debate” has “only two valid positions,” when in fact there is no valid debate on the issue – the best scientists and research institutions worldwide overwhelmingly agree that global warming is real, driven chiefly by the burning of fossil fuels by mankind, and requires a rapid global response to avert the worst predicted outcomes.

But that’s just the thing about this spin artist.  He seems to have wound himself up so tightly that he contradicts himself blatantly and doesn’t even realize it.  You can’t in one breath say that you comprehend the scientific certainty that the planet is warming, and then in the next breath argue that there is a “debate” about the science. 

Lomborg has revealed himself to be a non-denier… denier. 

He simply can’t be trusted.  Lomborg either doesn’t understand the science or he’s purposefully misrepresenting it, using smoke and mirrors and shell games.  In a word, spin.

No matter what self-serving contradictions he presents to sell books, he remains a card-carrying member of the anti-regulatory, anti-government crowd.  The only thing that’s changed about him is that now, instead of advocating that the world ignore the issue, he advocates that large sums of taxpayer money be spent developing far-fetched and likely dangerous geo-engineering ‘fixes’ to try to reverse climate change once the worst impacts reveal themselves.  Never mind the fact that setting strict regulations on carbon-spewing industries and leaving carbon-based fuels in the ground is a far more reasonable and effective approach.  That would upset Bjorn’s friends in the carbon industries.

It’s time for everyone - especially the mainstream media which has fawned over him for years – to follow Lomborg’s original line of advice – ignore the irrelevant, in this case Bjorn Lomborg.

Previous Comments

This guy could be the poster boy for the kind of muddying the denialists love.

I have just read Lomborg’s Op-Ed from the print edition of the WSJ. You must have mis-read what he wrote. Here is the full paragraph of the part that you appear to misunderstood. “That’s the way it is with heresy – there is no middle ground. Either you believe global warming is the worst problem mankind has ever faced and that cutting carbon is the only solution, or you are an anti-scientific ignoramus who probably thinks the Earth is flat” I think it is obvious from the foregoing that this is not Lomborg’s opinion. Please correct your article.

LEM

Not sure what to make of this interview with Lomborg in the New Statesman:

http://www.newstatesman.com/environment/2010/09/interview-gay-climate

He says a lot of good things here (, but then trashes Al Gore (as is a la mode for those who are in the denial camp) and may not be entirely honest with regards to the investigation into his “Skeptical Environmentalist” data.

More than anything, this leaves me quite confused. It seems as if Lomborg should be in the sensible group, yet he seems to be trying his best not to fall into this group. He’s one strange fellow, that’s for sure.

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