Monday, March 26, 2007

"The Skeptical Environmentalist", by Bjorn Lomborg

Buy and read this book. See the following comments by some of its reviewers. There are some really sharp people out there. In particular, note the following Customer Reviews. I wish more would speak up.

The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World (Paperback) by Bjorn Lomborg (Author) "What kind of state is the world really in?..." (more) (322 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews
Matt Ridley, author of Genome"...should be read by every environmentalist, so that the appalling errors of fact the environmental movement has made in the past are not repeated."

Review"This is one of the most valuable books on public policy - not merely on environmental policy - to have been written for the intelligent general reader in the past ten years. The Skeptical Environmentalist is a triumph." The Economist"

...a superbly documented and readable book." Wall Street Journal" is a surprise to meet someone who calls himself an environmentalist but who asserts that things are getting better....Strange to say, the author of this happy thesis is not a steely-eyed economist at a conservative Washington think tank but a vegetarian, backpack-toting academic who was a member of Greenpeace for four years....The primary target of the books, a substantial work of analysis with almost 3.000 footnotes, are statements made by environemtal organizations like the Worldwatch Institute, the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace. He refers to the persistently gloomy fate from these groups as the Litany, a collection of statements that he argues are exaggerations or outright myths." Science of the Times/New York Times

"The Skeptical Environmentalist should be read by every environmentalist, so that the appalling errors of fact the environmental movement has made in the past are not repeated. A brilliant and powerful book." Matt Ridley, Author of Genome"

Lomborg pulls off the remarkable feat of welding the techno-optimism of the Internet age with a lefty's concern for the fate of the planet." Rolling Stone

"Bjørn Lomborg is an outstanding representative of the "new breed" of political scientists--mathematically-skilled and computer-adept. In this book he shows himself also to be a hardheaded, empirically oriented analyst. Surveying a vast amount of data and taking account of a wide range of more and less informed opinion about environmental threats facing the planet, he comes to a balanced assessment of which ones are real and which are over-hyped. In vigorous and what needs not to be done about those turning out to be pseudo-problems." Professor Jack Hirshleifer, Department of Economics, UCLA

"Bjørn Lomborg raises the important question whether the costs of remedying the damage caused by environmental pollution are higher than the costs of the pollution itself. The answer is by no means straightforward. He has written a pioneering book." Professor Richard Rosecrance, Department of Political Science, UCLA

"When Lomborg concludes that '...the loss of the world's rainforests, of fertile agricultural land, the ozone layer and of the climate balance are terrible...' I agree. But we also need debate, and this book provides us with that in generous amounts, incl 2428 footnotes. If you, like I do, belong to the people who dare to think the world is making some progress, but always with mistakes to be corrected, this book makes important reading." Professor Lars Kristoferson, Secretary General, WWF Sweden

"...probably the most important book on the environment ever written." booksonline

"Lomborg is right on his points, that his critique of much green activism and its reporting in the media is just, and, above all, that where there is room for disagreement, Mr Lomborg invites and facilitates discussion, rather than seeking to silence it." The Economist Feb 2002


Dumps Al Gore into the waste tip of science, March 22, 2007
Sutton (London, England) - See all my reviewsEvery time I dirty my hands sorting my rubbish into cardboard, plastic, glass etc, or hear a politician tell me that "we are running out of waste sites" I think of this book. Lomborg destroys the sacred cows of the environmental movement using those old-fashioned tools called fact and logic. Amongst other things, he shows that global warming is not necessarily man's fault, and sometimes it is better for the environment to bury waste rather than recycle! Of course, it won't make any difference. Environmentalism is a religion and religious faith is impervious to reason.

In a word; Comprehensive., March 10, 2007
Kevin N. Persson - See all my reviews Mr. Lomborg has produced what is probably the most detailed and even-handed study on the environment. In a nutshell; he states that there is more that we can do, but pokes holes in the arguments of the doomsayers. A word to the wise. This is no light read. The book is filled with facts and figures that are illustrated with graphs on almost every page. Think of it as a textbook. If you are serious about wanting to learn about the problems of the earth and the challanges they present, without the hyperbole, this is the one book you should read.

Read what the fuss is all about, February 20, 2007
Nevadamistermom - See all my reviewsWhat do you get when an admitted environmentalist, political liberal, and expert in statistics decides to examine the science behind many of the mantras in the environmental movement? Very provocative reading, as Lomborg has been the subject of much rebuttal in magazines such as "Science." A quasi scientific organization in Denmark even attempted the equivalent of "disbarring" him - which should lead one to believe that he's perhaps touched a raw nerve that was in dire need of scrutiny instead of just swallowing everything we're told about how precarious the state of the earth is at present. I got this book precisely because I wanted to get a view from someone who would normally be biased towards a sympathetic interpretation of the data supporting numerous environmental causes. I figured that if HE found the data less than compelling in many cases, that I would be wise to pay attention. After all, he can't be dismissed with haughty sniffs of, "Big Oil" "Right Wing Hack" "Profit Over Planet" and the usual parade of other predictable snubbs. I have sometimes seen Lomborg dismissed as someone who analyzes gambling because he has expertise in "Game Theory" but those who make such assertions do not have the slightest notion of what Game Theory is all about. For convenience, here's the short definition courtesy of wikipedia: "Game theory is often described as a branch of applied mathematics and economics that studies situations where players choose different actions in an attempt to maximize their returns. The essential feature, however, is that it provides a formal modelling approach to social situations in which decision makers interact with other minds. Game theory extends the simpler optimization approach developed in neoclassical economics." In other words, Lomborg's expertise is in evaluating not only statistics, but the economic consequences of various choices related to social policy. This is particularly important for environmental issues because for things like global warming, potentially trillions of dollars can be spent on actions that might make people "feel" they are doing something positive, but which has very limited benefit. Kind of like LBJ's war on poverty - trillions spent and things are actually worse today, not better. Let's not make the same mistakes with the environment. Consequently, I think it is inappropriate to dismiss Lomborg as not having the appropriate "specialization" to embark upon a book of this nature. He took the available data from published reports (such as the IPCC's reports on Global Warming), analyzed it, and presented sound conclusions about whether the earth is really "on the brink" as many would have us believe or if the world is actually a vastly better planet than it was even 150 years ago. I enjoyed the book and encourage you to read it. You may not agree with every conclusion, but it is an alternative and - I think - rational viewpoint that is becoming increasingly harder to find in today's climate of highly politicized science. The book is an ambitious undertaking with over 2000 citations in the bibliogrophy, hundreds of diagrams, and a scholarly approach throughout. Mr. Lomborg is to be commended for an outstanding book that injects reality into the situation and let's us know that perhaps things are not so bad as Al Gore and his fellow alarmists would lead us to believe.

Priorities are the key, February 19, 2007
R Weaver - See all my reviewsIt's hard to believe that at some level everyone is not an environmentalist to a degree. The problem is that the hype surrounding the various environmental issues turns people like me off. Some of the claims are clearly fiction and it's hard to sort it all out. This book does a great job of cutting through the hype and getting to the facts to that we can make good choices about the environment. Choices based on facts not hype. One of the first things that Lomborg shows is that everyone has a horse in this race - there are no unbiased observers. Scientists and environmental organizations make $millions by scaring people oil companies make $millions selling products that produce pollution. They both are biased. If you really care about the environment you should read this book.

There are more, many more reviews. Too many to post here, but go to to read more.

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