Wed, Dec 15, 2010 - Page 8 News List


Lomborg wrong again

The perpetrator of endless streams on environmental nonsense has struck again. Bjorn Lomborg asserts that becoming more energy-efficient doesn’t matter because we then just use more energy (“No, you can’t,” Dec. 13, page 9). While this well-documented “rebound effect” is undoubtedly true, Lomborg’s conclusions are wrong.

First, if our appliances had not become more efficient, then we would undoubtedly use more energy and therefore pollute more. Second, if many people, including me, did not attempt to minimize their energy use, we would use even more energy and pollute even more. Third, such messages send out the wrong signal, basically discouraging people from action because “whatever I do will make no difference.”

As the global economy grows, it needs more energy, especially as developing countries are trying to achieve a similar lifestyle to that of developed countries. If all of us were still using appliances from the mid-20th century, God only knows what our environment would look like. Therefore, we need to attack the problem from both sides: encouraging energy efficiency, but also making energy production sustainable and safe.

As the perpetrator of endless streams of nonsense about the non-existence of global warming and other environmental crises, Lomborg is single-handedly responsible for holding such developments back for years, if not decades. For him to now recommend green energy sources is disingenuous, to say the least.

Unless he recants all those anti-environmental diatribes published in several books and countless articles, nailing his colors to the mast of renewable energy, although welcome, seems to be another episode of his convictions “presenting an ever-shifting target” (“Global economy must be rebuilt,” Dec. 21, 2009, page 8).

What we urgently need to embrace is a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable strategy of global governance that supports massive investments into renewable energies, which are mainly solar, tidal and geothermal energy, as well as massive investments into energy efficiency. This needs to be combined with a circular materials economy, also called cradle-to-cradle, thus ending resource extraction and pollution of our environment.

Finally, we have to treat all living things with much greater care and respect, giving them enough space to maintain healthy ecosystems. Solving just one environmental crisis while ignoring the others is short-sighted and ultimately futile; for example, cutting down all the remaining rainforests in the next two decades may put as much carbon into the atmosphere as increased use of renewable energy may save — so we must act on all problems at the same time.

How much will such a program of enlightened global sustainability cost us? In the long-term, probably less than it will cost us to clean up the resulting mess of not implementing such a program. However, costs shouldn’t matter, because the world we want to live in is a “value judgment about what society thinks is important” ( This is about quality of life, about intergenerational justice and essentially about our legacy to the future: a vastly impoverished world or a world full of life, diversity and joy — it is our choice.



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