Mon, Dec 21, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Global economy must be rebuilt

By Bruno Walther

The Copenhagen climate summit that discussed a new treaty to curtail atmospheric greenhouse gases has been widely reported on by the Taipei Times, as has the consequences of further global warming for Taiwan’s environment — more floods and droughts, spreading diseases, the salinization and submergence of coastal areas, and adverse effects on agriculture and ecosystems.

It also published two articles by anti-environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg on this topic (“Help where and when it’s needed the most,” Nov. 16, page 9 and “Climate change and ‘Climategate,’” Dec. 15, page 9).

I usually refrain from directly attacking people and rather try to argue the scientific and ethical implications of environmental issues, but Lomborg is a special case, as he probably has single-handedly done more to harm the environment than almost anybody else. His infamous books The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming have been widely touted by anti-environmental think tanks, but have also been found to be one of the worst cases of scientific fraud in the history of environmental writing.

The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) showed that The Skeptical Environmentalist contained deliberately misleading, biased and fabricated data, flawed statistics and misrepresented conclusions, and was thus a clear case of scientific dishonesty contrary to the standards of good scientific practice (www.lomborg-errors.dk).

In other words, Lomborg is a convicted scientific liar. Not only does he have hardly a single real scientific publication to his name and therefore no scientific credentials whatsoever, worse, he has been found out to be a cherry-picking fraud who consistently selects only those facts and reports that support his biased claims.

Let’s say your wife was giving birth — would you take her to an experienced doctor in a well-equipped hospital or to an untrained quack in a dirty back alley?

Well, letting Lomborg give us advice on the environment is the equivalent of going to the quack — no proper training, no professional credentials, no track record of doing proper science or even properly using scientific results.

There is a reason why a doctor or a lawyer have to pass an examination before being allowed to become professionals, and the same is true for the natural and environmental sciences. Lomborg is a trained political scientist and statistician, but has no education in the natural sciences whatsoever. His spouting forth on environmental issues is the equivalent of listening to a voodoo doctor issue recommendations on healing cancer.

Worse, once he has cherry-picked himself through one topic, distorting the evidence, he then moves onto the next subject, therefore presenting an ever-shifting target whose falsifications are hard to pin down. His apparently most recent reinvention is to have become a campaigner for the world’s poor. He claims that money spent to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases would be better spent on the poor who are most dependent on further development and aid to lift them out of poverty.

This argument appears flawed for two reasons — the current neo-liberal trickle down economic system has hardly done much good for the world’s poor, but has made the super-rich the new hyper-rich, while leaving a minefield of unpaid debts and broken economies behind. Second, almost every scientific report shows that it is the poor in developing countries that will suffer the most from a changing climate and a deteriorating environment.

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