Review of "Cool it: The skeptical environmentalist’s guide to global warming" by Bjorn Lomborgon October 12, 2007 at 12:00 am
The New York Times report on Vice President Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chanel winning the Nobel Peace Prize makes Bjorn Lomborg’s book, Cool It, all the more timely. Dr. Lomborg is a founder of the “Copenhagen Consensus,” a scientific approach that provides specific steps to making the world a better place.
Cool It is based on costs and benefits. While Lomborg’s book does not use the term, Bjorn is clearly annoyed by global warming religionists who see climate change as an issue of good and evil, rather than pluses and negatives. For instance, consider the (accurate) claim that if temperatures warm, more people will do from heat in the summer. Now consider the (equally accurate) claim that as temperatures warm, many more people will not die from cold in winter. Lomborg compares these two facts, and shows that over all, climate change saves more people than it kills via temperature. So he advices the reader to “cool it” when it comes to climate change hysteria.
Other incidents of global warming hysteria are addressed at as well. Some polar bear populations are declining. However, polar bear populations over all are increasing, and those that witness declining populations are in places that are getting colder. Similarly, a carbon tax would slow down warming, saving a percentage of land on island nations that may be lost to global temperatures. But the growth from not having any carbon tax would allow those same countries to be much richer, allowing them to afford to protect more of their land from the ocean.
For topic after topic, area after area, Lomborg applies policy science to the anti-climate change debate and finds the alarmists to be doing much more harm than good. Because Bjorn believes that global warming is caused by human beings, he proposes a modest carbon tax as part of a much wider effort. Bjorn Lomborg concludes with a call for a generational mission, but one that (unlike various CO2-centric ideas) actually might de a lot of good: eradicating malaria, greenery in cities, and economic development.
Tom Barnett, whose recommendation is the reason I bought this book, things it’s “cool” that Gore won the Nobel Price. After reading Cool It, I can’t agree. Gore’s alarmism is counterproductive, harming both science as an enterprise and humanity as a species. The very best that can be said about Al Gore’s work is that, hopefully, it will mostly be ignored.