Why I do not share Johnathan Pearce’s admiration for Bjorn Lomborg

I just attached this comment to a Samizdata posting about Bjorn Lomborg. I don’t want to forget about it, so it also goes here.

My prejudice about Lomborg (which is why I have not studied his thoughts in much depth) is that he doesn’t understand the argument he says he is in.

In particular, he doesn’t grasp that the essence of the Climate argument concerns whether or not there is going to be a Climate Catastrophe. If there is, then all Lomborg’s chat about merely improving the lives of the poor is just fiddling while Rome awaits incineration.

But if the evidence for a forthcoming catastrophe is no better now than at any other time during human history, then Lomborg’s arguments make sense, as do all other arguments about merely improving things. Economics, business, capitalism, etc. all make sense, and there is no excuse for global collectivism, because it only makes things worse. The only excuse for global collectivism is in preventing a global catastrophe that is otherwise unpreventable.

Which is why the global catastrophe was fabricated. The whole point of the Catastrophic bit in Catastrophic AGW is to render economics, business, capitalism etc (Lomborgism you might say), pointless.

And Lomborg has spent his life ignoring that bit of the argument, that bit being the bit that matters by far the most.

As it happens, the Catastrophists are now losing (on the science), which is why they are switching back to gibbering on about “sustainability”, or even more ridiculously, shortages of this or that. In short, they are moving back to the territory where Lomborg and all the rest of us will defeat them with ease, again. But Lomborg himself has contributed nothing to this intellectual victory. He has merely confused things somewhat, by implying that this is all about regular economics. It is not. It is about whether regular economics now applies to the world, or not.

I would be interested to know if commenters who know Lomborg’s writings better than I do think that these are accurate prejudices.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

One thought on “Why I do not share Johnathan Pearce’s admiration for Bjorn Lomborg”

  1. Three comments on the original posting, from August Hurtel, Rob Fisher and Tom Grey.


    Reason T.V. recently put out an interview of him. He was saying that, for whatever level of funds someone has or wants to spend on ‘saving the world’ there are far better things to be doing than the policies called for by the standard climate change crowd. You can take his speech as the sort of thing enlightened libertarians can do themselves, but it seems obvious to me he’d be perfectly happy spending government money.
    He has a real disconnect with the greens too though- nobody couches the argument in terms of human life. Some of these idiots refuse to have children in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Lomborg can’t possibly have any traction with people who view humanity as a blight upon the earth.

    Posted by August Hurtel on 27 June 2012


    I have found Lomborg useful for all the other (non-catastrophic) bits of environmentalism. In The Skeptical Environmentalist he reviews things like pollution and deforestation and shows how things are really not that bad. It is useful for taking the wind out of the sails of instinctively anti-capitalist people.

    I haven’t paid much attention to his climate writing, but not for any particular reason.

    Posted by Rob Fisher on 03 July 2012


    This is an excellent articulation of why Lomborg is not the leader of the anti-AGW folk – he fails to see the green argument for a Catastrophe is the key point.

    Back when Gore won the Nobel for his lies, I was claiming the most that would happen if CO2 went up a lot is some climate change, and more wetter wets, hotter hots, and colder colds (as well as hotter colds and colder hots).

    It’s only the catastrophe, like a huge glacier melting and releasing fresh water into the gulf stream and a new Ice Age coming which might, possibly, justify the green politics. But I don’t think the science shows it.

    Posted by Tom Grey on 01 August 2012

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