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.
As I wrote here before (“One crisis that can’t be ignored any longer,” Nov. 29, page 8), it is the world’s poor who are much more directly reliant on their immediate environment for food, water and other natural products, and therefore much less able to compensate for losses because of a deteriorating environment by buying products from somewhere else or investing in adaptation technologies (as, for example, Lomborg can in wealthy Denmark).
If Lomborg is actually advocating a massive wealth redistribution in the form of knowledge, technology and money transfer to the world’s poor, as he seems to imply in his first article, he might just have transformed himself again in chameleon-like form, this time from environmental Saul to poor people’s Paul. I find it rather unlikely, however, that the same conservative think tanks that have supported Lomborg’s diatribes and which have also been touting free trade and corporate power over government oversight and regulation, will all of a sudden build and staff public schools and universities, relinquish technical and medical patents or dish out large amounts of aid money to help the world’s poor. I hope Lomborg proves me wrong and, instead of wrecking the environment, he becomes the next Bob Geldof who lifts the world’s poor out of poverty.
There are two models of how to do this — the traditional way of exploiting the environment for the sake of economic growth, which already leads to actual diminished quality of life despite economic growth, or the alternative way of sustainable growth of the economy while enhancing environmental quality of life through the widespread application of renewable energy, recycling, ecosystem management and bio-engineering.
Lomborg is correct that solely punitive measures, such as taxing greenhouse gas emissions, are unlikely to succeed; rather, we need massive investment in providing environmental sustainable alternatives for energy, production and waste management.
Some of these ideas have recently found their way into the Taipei Times — renewable energy, electric vehicles, public transport, efficient buildings and appliances, recycling and meat-free diets have recently been discussed in these pages. Such green technologies and life-styles are the only realistic solutions to the current global environmental crisis, and nothing except a complete rebuilding of the world’s economy will do.
So, for once, I am agreeing with Lomborg and I can hardly believe it myself.
Bruno Walther is a visiting assistant professor of environmental science at the College of Public Health and Nutrition, Taipei Medical University.
If social media interaction is any yardstick, India remained one of the top countries for Taiwan last year. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on several occasions expressed enthusiasm to strengthen cooperation with India, one of the 18 target nations in her administration’s New Southbound Policy. The past year was instrumental in fostering Taiwan-India ties and will be remembered for accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. However, most of it has been confined to civil society circles. Even though Taiwan launched its southbound policy in 2016, the potential of Taiwan-India engagement remains underutilized. It is crucial to identify what is obstructing greater momentum
As China pushes the world to avoid official dealings with Taiwan, leaders across the globe are realizing just how dependent they have become on the democratic nation. Taiwan is being courted for its capacity to make leading-edge computer chips. That is mostly down to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest foundry and go-to producer of chips for Apple Inc smartphones, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing. Taiwan’s role in the world economy largely existed below the radar, until it came to recent prominence as the auto industry suffered shortfalls in chips used for everything from parking sensors to reducing emissions. With automakers
In memory of Diane Baker: one of the last working dance journalists, a true dance aficionado and dear friend. On Friday, through a mutual friend, I received the shocking news that dance critic Diane Baker had passed away suddenly at her apartment in Tianmu, Taipei. The news quickly spread, and messages of concern quickly swarmed in from the dance community in Taiwan and abroad. Her sister Sharon in the US later confirmed that Diane died of a heart attack on Wednesday last week. She was 65. Diane was a dear friend to Taiwan’s dance community. Her frequent appearance at dance performances in
A full year after an outbreak of a novel coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, the Chinese government last week finally relented to international pressure and granted access to a team of scientists from the WHO to investigate the origins of the disease. However, serious questions remain about whether the team would be able to carry out its investigation, free from the meddling hand of the Chinese state: The signs do not bode well. The team was originally due to arrive at the beginning of this month; however, their visas were abruptly canceled while several of its members were already in transit.