Monday, June 13, 2011

More Reasons To Love Bjorn Lomborg

I don't agree with every single utterance from his lips, but the guy makes sense more often than not:
Climate alarmists and campaigning environmentalists argue that the industrialized countries of the world have made sizable withdrawals on nature’s fixed allowance, and unless we change our ways, and soon, we are doomed to an abrupt end. Take the recent proclamation from the United Nations Environment Program, which argued that governments should dramatically cut back on the use of resources. The mantra has become commonplace: our current way of living is selfish and unsustainable. We are wrecking the world. We are gobbling up the last resources. We are cutting down the rainforest. We are polluting the water. We are polluting the air. We are killing plants and animals, destroying the ozone layer, burning the world through our addiction to fossil fuels, and leaving a devastated planet for future generations.

In other words, humanity is doomed.

It is a compelling story, no doubt. It is also fundamentally wrong, and the consequences are severe. Tragically, exaggerated environmental worries—and the willingness of so many to believe them—could ultimately prevent us from finding smarter ways to actually help our planet and ensure the health of the environment for future generations.

Because, our fears notwithstanding, we actually get smarter. Although Westerners were once reliant on whale oil for lighting, we never actually ran out of whales. Why? High demand and rising prices for whale oil spurred a search for and investment in the 19th-century version of alternative energy. First, kerosene from petroleum replaced whale oil. We didn’t run out of kerosene, either: electricity supplanted it because it was a superior way to light our planet.

For generations, we have consistently underestimated our capacity for innovation. There was a time when we worried that all of London would be covered with horse manure because of the increasing use of horse-drawn carriages. Thanks to the invention of the car, London has 7 million inhabitants today. Dung disaster averted.
He believes global warming is real and that man has a real impact on it, but notice his solution:
We know from experience that more prosperous countries are more able to respond to the challenges that climate change will pose. They are much more resilient to natural disasters while more able to invest in measures such as greener cities and flood protection. Yet instead of first making sure that everybody is better off and more resilient, our response to global warming has been to try to cut back carbon emissions too soon. In reality, this means reining in growth and making do with less than we could have otherwise.

But this approach flies in the face of history. The way we have made progress against disease, malnutrition, and environmental degradation in the past is by growing, by discovering, and by innovating. Naturally, it is a hard sell to tell the hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty in China and elsewhere that they ought to stop burning coal, roll back their prosperity, and go back to a life of poverty.
Even when I don't agree with his entire argument, his logic is sound.

I've written several posts mentioning or quoting him, take a look.


allen (in Michigan) said...

Lomborg'd have to believe global warming is real since there's no science to back up the hypothesis consensus being one of those phenomena that's right on the mark when selecting a president or beauty queen but not really applicable to science.

It is interesting that Lomborg believes in gloabal warming but when it comes to the amount of horse manure in London at some period in the past he'll verify his conclusions before putting his faith in them.

Darren said...

I still like his conclusions, even if his premise is flawed.