Bjorn Lomborg on climate change

By Peter Griffin 27/09/2010

0 Responses to “Bjorn Lomborg on climate change”

  • Very interesting. To summarise what I understood:

    (1) The debate would work better if we were honest. No argument there.

    (2) Tackling one symptom at a time is more efficient than addressing the underlying cause. His argument seems to be that we simply can’t afford to address the underlying cause and that we can reasonably anticipate the consequences of every symptom, but his examples seem to be hand-picked to admit easy, cost-effective solutions. I’d be curious to hear his economic analysis on, say, ocean acidification and mass extinctions, or on the aggregate cost of patching every problem we know about.

    (3) More generally, geoengineering is “better” than not geoengineering. It’s better to cause major worldwide changes and adapt to them than to not make them in the first place. Maybe we should resign ourselves to that, but he seems to strongly prefer the geoengineering approach. I’d be happier about that if we had a few hundred planets upon which to experiment.

    (4) CO_2 = growth. He “shows” that GDP rises hand in hand with CO_2 emissions, and treats the correlation as causation. What a disingenuous argument! The de facto standard for energy production is CO_2, so of course if the only source of energy is fossil fuels, then there’s a causal link. But there _are_ other sources of energy. And they’re arguably already cheaper, if you consider the full ecological costs of fossil fuels. What happened to (1)?

    (5) Invest in technology. Through points (2)-(4) I thought he cared only about addressing the symptoms rather than the cause. His final point almost seems like a footnote, but it is a reminder that he is interested in an actual solution rather than a bunch of bandaids.

    What I like about this talk is the call to honesty, the reminder that we will have to invent a whole lot of bandaids because we’re simply incapable of curing the illness, and the belief that we can. I fear the fact that a few successful bullet-dodgings tend to allow people to forget about the gun.