• Hardcover: 272 pages
• Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 4, 2007)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0307266923
• ISBN-13: 978-0307266927
• Amazon.com Sales Rank: #243 in Books
Review on 06 November 2007 by Donald N. Anderson.
After reading so many books on the science of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) it was refreshing to read an economist’s analysis. Lomborg has brought an intensely practical viewpoint to the debate. He dismisses the crank claims (such as 20 foot sea level rises and starving polar bears) and picks scenarios for which there is some serious scientific support. He does give the AGW proponents more credit than I think they deserve, but that only makes his calculations conservative. He assumes the political pronouncements of the IPCC represent real science which is very disputable and is challenged by the very scientists who wrote the chapters of the underlying report. Of course if serious AGW does not exist, there is no need for his estimates of AGW impact.
He covers a number of symptoms of AGW such as temperature, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, extreme weather, flooding rivers, Gulf Stream shutdown, the spread of disease, crop growing, and water shortages. He dismisses the more ridiculous postulated problems (not enough in my opinion) and looks at both the positive and negative aspects of those that remain. For example, increased temperatures increases the number of deaths due to heat but reduces the number of deaths due to cold. His calculations show that a modest temperature increase will have a decisively positive effect since cold deaths greatly outnumber heat deaths. With modern air conditioning the heat deaths can also be greatly reduced if the populations are wealthy enough.
He continually emphasizes the need to prioritize and spend our resources wisely rather on fool’s errands (such as Kyoto). He shows that attempting to reduce CO2 emissions is not a cost effective way to address these symptoms and makes a number of suggestions for approaches that have a greater chance of improving human welfare.
His appeal for calm reasoned debate may well be lost in today’s newspapers where alarmist reports are everyday occurrences and reason is an unwelcome intruder. We need to follow Lomborg’s example and stop trying to sacrifice skeptical scientists (like witches) to the weather gods.
He employs a unique system of endnotes with no mention or numbers in his text at all. The 35 page Notes section is organized by the page to which each note refers and each note is identified with a bold fragment from the text. The note in turn refers to the full citation in his 42 page literature section and particularizes it where necessary. Tracing Lomborg’s sources is quite easy since in many cases he provides the web address and the date he retrieved it.
I certainly hope Lomborg has some moderating influence on the rancorous AGW debate. His advice to “Cool It” is very badly needed.