280 – Lomborg at UWA

The news of Bjorn Lomborg establishing the “Australian Consensus Centre” at the University of Western Australia has generated plenty of media attention and much discussion within the University.

Some people within UWA are concerned about the University becoming associated with such a controversial and divisive figure. They are worried about the University’s reputation, and about the perception that his work is scientifically flawed.

There has also been commentary on the fact that the Australian Government could find $4 million for this initiative at a time when government funding in general (and university funding in particular) is under such great pressure.

I had no idea that the UWA arrangement was in prospect until Lomborg dropped in to meet me briefly the day before it was announced a couple of weeks ago. I had not had any contact with him in the past. I found him to be very personable and he asked sensible and genuine questions about environmental issues in Australia.

I have been aware of Lomborg’s work since his 2001 book The Skeptical Environmentalist (TSE), with its message that many environmental problems are not as bad as we’d been led to believe, and some are getting better. I’ve also been interested in his writings on climate policy, and his more-recent initiative, the Copenhagen Consensus, which sets out to prioritise a set of major international policies. The latter will be adapted for a new set of policies in the UWA initiative.

tseAll three of these areas of work have generated controversy and criticism. I’ve read many of the critics, particularly in the early days of TSE when the criticism was raging.

I split the criticisms into two types: identification of errors of fact and criticisms of what he does with the facts (interpretations and judgements). There were some errors of fact in TSE, but not as many as claimed. In my judgement, many of the claimed errors were misinterpretations, misunderstandings or misrepresentations by the critics, quoting him out of context, highlighting trivial issues, and so on. People who didn’t like his conclusions went out of their way to find the smallest hint of an error and blow it up. There is a web site called Lomborg Errors, which includes numerous so-called errors from TSE, but when I read it I was singularly unconvinced by many of them. In fact I found myself laughing out loud at some of them. Given the huge scope of the book, the number of significant, genuine errors is remarkable small, really, and they don’t change the general message of the book. But the myth of there being numerous serious errors got well established, and is accepted as received wisdom by many.

I didn’t agree with everything in TSE. Some parts were less convincing, and it seemed too optimistic to me in some respects. These were generally not errors of fact, but differences in judgement about what they implied or what should be done about them.

Lomborg has faced plenty of disagreement about his policy recommendations, particularly in relation to climate change. He argues that the political barriers to pricing carbon at a price level that will achieve the desired outcomes are so great that we may as well not bother with it. Instead he advocates a large public investment in development of new technologies, such as for renewable energy. This position is obviously at odds with most people who are concerned about climate change, but my own view is that his pessimism about the politics is justified (reinforced by the messages coming out of India recently) and that the technology route is likely to be the only approach with any real chance of averting serious climate change. I’ve written about this here.  Interestingly, his position is not that of a climate sceptic/denier, although he is sometimes characterised as being one.

Looking around the web, I see some scientists arguing that climate change will be greater and more costly than Lomborg has concluded in his climate book, often coupled with attribution of dubious motivations and associations. Perhaps he has made errors here and underplayed some potential outcomes – I haven’t taken the time to evaluate the claims. Nevertheless, even if he has, it doesn’t affect the logic behind his recommended policy approach.

The Copenhagen Consensus work, a version of which he will bring to UWA, is somewhat different in nature. His contribution is to set up and manage the process, bring people together and publicise the results. The judgements made in the process are not his judgements, but those of panels of people (usually senior economists) responding to evidence and cases put by commissioned experts. The focus is on identifying priorities for policy action. From a set of defined policies, which are the ones that are likely to have the greatest benefits for mankind? The explicit focus on prioritisation is critical, but is often missed by people advocating for a particular policy.

The controversy here arises because carbon-pricing policies consistently come out as being much lower in priority than other things like improving childhood nutrition in developing countries and fighting infectious diseases. In my view, this result isn’t a surprise, considering the likely benefits, feasibility, time lags and costs of the options. But it adds to the impression that Lomborg is a climate “contrarian”, even though the results are not actually generated by him.

Some have argued that the concept of prioritising these policies is wrong – we should just implement them all. I think that’s very naïve. It’s not how the world works. None of the policies being evaluated is currently in place. It’s a huge, difficult, risky task to try to get a major new policy adopted, especially when international agreements are needed. Governments have to carefully prioritise how to spend their financial resources and their political capital.

It’s very interesting that Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson has signed up to the University hosting this new centre. He must have anticipated that there would be controversy. I think it’s positive that the University hasn’t been scared off. A university is a good place to do work that challenges people to think differently.

Overall, if it can sufficiently avoid the taint of politics (which might be tricky), I think the initiative could make a worthwhile and interesting contribution to the policy debate in Australia. But also there will no doubt be aspersions cast against Lomborg and UWA.

32 Comments

  • Bill,Porter
    20 April, 2015 - 7:05 am | link

    Thanks Dave. You’ve reinforced and helped refine my (relatively uninformed) impressions of the Lomborg approach. It’s good to hear he is in touch with you and I hope you will be in an ‘inside’ position to give us your impressions of the Centre’s work as it unfolds. The noise from the tribes with various environmental positions will be a major impediment to the Centre having an impact at the political level, but it is a nice dream that logic may play a significant part in future decisions.
    Bill

  • Neil Barr
    20 April, 2015 - 8:49 am | link

    The received wisdom in my news feed is that Lomborg is an oil company shill. Much the same as anyone not terrified of GMOs is a Monsanto shill etc etc. I am growing tired of selective use of evidence.

  • Mike Christensen
    20 April, 2015 - 9:00 am | link

    Hi Dave, Many thanks for that very thoughtful and useful commentary. I have read a number of the critiques of Lomborg’s work and found the same as you described – that he is described as a climate change denier and lacks scientific rigor, all of which isn’t borne out by what he actually says and writes. And although I do believe that climate change is probably the biggest challenge that humans face today, simply because it has the potential to disrupt civilization as we know it to an extent unlike any of the other issues that he discusses, I also welcome the discussion and discourse about all of the serious issues. To sum up – good on UWA for not being “scared off” and look forward to hearing more about the work of the centre.

  • Jenny Simpson
    20 April, 2015 - 9:44 am | link

    Thanks for this piece Dave, very interesting and informative. With the media commentary and social media backlash it has been difficult to get a handle on the facts amid the white noise.

  • Elena Limnios
    21 April, 2015 - 2:06 am | link

    Hi Dave, thank you for this interesting piece. I am all for openness to a different way of thinking, that is the essence of academic enquiry. However politicizing the debate of climate change has been in my view extremely counterproductive (for both scientific and policy debate), it has unfortunately created what Andrew Hoffman calls a polarization and “demonizing” of each side by the other. It will be very difficult to stay away from politics in this situation, even if quality research is produced it will be open to heavy political criticism, I don’t see how this can be avoided in this instance… I have only recently been introduced into this debate over mr Lomborgs work quality and I highly value your opinion. Some of the criticism seems well founded take this article by John Quiggin (who reviewed his book and center) published in 2004/2005, which states for example that when the methodology of the centre (i.e. its Delphi Panel liked consensus process) was announced three of the seven members of the board of Lomborg’s then Environment Assessment Institute resigned in protest. It also raises methodological concerns, I would certainly be interested in your view if you see these as minor? http://johnquiggin.com/2005/01/21/copenhagen-review/
    My comment is not intended as passing judgement, I look forward to meeting him in person and developing a better informed view.
    On another note I have a lot of respect for our Vice Chancellor and like you say it is interesting that this was agreed upon despite the expected controversy. What I would have liked to see is that staff, especially in relevant areas, are informed in advance by the university and not from third parties. We are all ambassadors of UWA when interacting with students, alumni, and at our own networks.

    • 21 April, 2015 - 8:41 am | link

      Hi Elena. I totally agree that politicisation of any issue makes it very difficult to have a rational conversation about it. The climate debate is about as bad as it is possible to be in this regard. It is hard not to suspect the motives, balance, openness and political leanings of pretty much anybody who comments on climate. It’s just as bad on both sides of the debate, in my view. The debate is polarised and polarising. No individual or group is responsible for that – it’s just how it is, and it’s not going to change any time soon. Lomborg himself is rather polarising, as I commented in the post (I called him ‘divisive’). The comments below John Quiggin’s article illustrate that nicely.

      I don’t doubt that Lomborg has made mistakes. Some of his conclusions are not the conclusions I would have reached from the same evidence. But he is open about his evidence and reasoning, and we are free to disagree, or find better evidence.

      John has always been strongly in the anti-Lomborg court. This review of his is actually surprisingly positive, for him. His main criticism in the piece is essentially that of bias – that the process was set up in a way to achieve a particular result. I am always struck by the amount of attention that John gives to the left-right political leanings of people when discussing issues. Perhaps he is right to do so. It’s not usually the first thing I think of, but perhaps that makes me naïve. I wouldn’t even have been able to say whether the economists involved are relatively left or relatively right.

      To the extent that left-right leanings affect the analysis and judgements of economists, these biases are, of course, not limited to the Copenhagen Consensus. They are present throughout the economics literature. Indeed, preconceptions, values and biases are there in any research discipline that addresses issues of public policy. The appropriate way for an analyst to deal with this is to be open and transparent about evidence and methods. In this regard, I think Lomborg does a good job – better than many of his critics.

      • Al
        21 April, 2015 - 9:34 am | link

        David, I agree. One can be passionate about one’s view without being destructive in argument. Lomborg, like every human, can make mistakes, but that should not mean shutting down his input. He can and must be challenged in argument, but surely he still has a right to be heard with respect. Sadly, that respect is missing today on both sides, but particularly the Left.

  • 21 April, 2015 - 8:47 am | link

    Most of the media stories on this topic are pretty poorly informed. This one is much better than average, and tries to be balanced: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/the-bjorn-legacy-what-will-lomborg-say-about-australian-aid-and-will-anyone-listen-20150406-1mek81.html

  • Elena Limnios
    21 April, 2015 - 8:25 pm | link

    Thanks for your response David, very well considered. It will be interesting to see how the biases will be disclosed and research outcomes used (hopefully not abused by either or both sides of politics) in the public policy debate.

  • Michael Harris
    22 April, 2015 - 10:58 am | link

    Hi Dave.

    Your discussion of Lomborg bemused me a little. Here’s a few reasons why.

    First is the absence of context. I’ve never really understood why his centre and his line of work needed to exist. What is he doing that hundreds (thousands?) of economists and others are not already doing? Is he doing something amazingly novel (seriously? applying cost-benefit analysis? seriously?!?), or is it that he can be relied upon to be sympathetic to a line of argument that downplays the need for immediate action and emphasises longer-run adaptation (in practice, the “can that can be kicked down the road”)?

    And so, let’s bring the context to Australia. Why, as the government is defunding the CSIRO and Climate Commission and chipping away at renewable energy (not to mention universities generally), does it suddenly feel inspired to throw a few million dollars at this particular person to underpin a new (what should we call it?) climate policy centre? What is its agenda? Are we to presume that they genuinely think he is the best scientific mind to tackle this stuff? That they don’t think they’ve found the “academic scribbler” who’ll dutifully supply a dollop of credibility to their party’s line of (relative) climate change inaction.

    Down to tin tacks: How is the actual head of this new centre to be appointed? Who decides, and what would that position description look like? (If the director is meant to be someone independently appointed, their credibility will be crucial to how the centre is perceived, surely.) What do climate researchers at UWA think about the proposed establishment of this centre? What do the climate scientists you know think of Lomborg’s work?

    Second: OK, fact-checking Lomborg is a horrible business, as this Newsweek piece makes clear.

    http://www.newsweek.com/debunking-lomborg-climate-change-skeptic-75173

    But the question at the heart of all this is not can a human researcher/scholar make errors (yes); or can a human researcher/scholar make arguments that are not yet settled and so can be challenged, while not being clearly wrong (yes); rather, the question that matters is, is Lomborg arguing in good faith? That to me, seems the beginning and end of the matter. We can specify this explicitly for our discussion as: when the facts change, does (or would) Lomborg change his mind? As part of answering that, does he appear to present facts as honestly and transparently as he can to support his claims?

    The author of the book mentioned in the Newsweek article above is seriously doubtful. http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/HFResponseToLomborgFeb262010.pdf

    Noting that author’s terms “Lomborg’s Theorem” and “Lomborg’s Corollary”, he says “In other words, Lomborg detailed a key tenet of Lomborg’s Theorem—that sea-level rise due to global warming poses no serious threat—by footnoting non-existent sources in the IPCC assessment.”

    That’s a nontrivial condemnation. It’s worth reading the piece in full.

    Then, in the foreword to Friels’ book by Thomas Lovejoy, he recounts how when Lomborg would give public talks where scientists would correct matters of science, only to find Lomborg repeating his original claims in subsequent speeches. That’s a fairly obvious variation on (not) changing his mind when the facts change.

    So the second reason is a pattern of evidence that suggests, despite his seeming personability and scholarly curiosity in the flesh, there’s a lack of good faith driving his work and his public claims. If accurate, that means the distance between him and someone like Lord Monckton is uncomfortably narrow: Lomborg is simply the smoother, less partisan-sounding snake-oil salesman.

    Third: you seem to have missed that when he wants to, Lomborg will play to an audience (if I’m being coy, then let me be less so: a denialist audience).

    As Exhibit for this 3rd point, I wonder whether he actually read the report he tweets about here: https://twitter.com/BjornLomborg/status/588264008727298049

    He does seem to have kind of missed the point of the story. Instead, he seems to be indulging in some “enjoyable” (and divisive — see the thread that follows) hippie-punching.

    • Ben Cooke
      23 April, 2015 - 9:37 am | link

      Thanks for this Michael (and for your perspective Dave).

      I think there is something bigger here about the idea that science and politics can be easily separated (or that science isn’t inherently political). Perhaps an attempt to focus on the science independent of the political context inhibits our ability to analyse whether certain policy decisions are in the broader public good?

    • 24 April, 2015 - 6:59 am | link

      Thanks Michael. I’m on board with some of those comments, but others not so much. Here are some quick responses.

      Novelty of the approach. Another economist has said something similar to me. But why is novelty an issue? I would have thought that it was good to see BCA used in a public way to discuss priorities. Despite all those thousands of economists, it happens precious little in practice.

      Getting a pre-determined answer. In the Copenhagen Consensus process, it’s not Lomborg that does the analysis or decides on the priorities. It’s commissioned experts and a panel of big wigs, often including Nobel Prize winning economists. I don’t find it plausible that Lomborg could have rigged the results with all those competent and opinionated people involved.

      Director appointment. Presumably there will be a standard selection process.

      Climate researchers. I haven’t done a survey. Some, at least, are very negative.

      Lack of good faith. Fair enough to raise this. It’s more relevant than just bias, because that’s everywhere. But judging lack of good faith is easier said than done. To be certain we’d need to see inside a person’s mind, but we can only judge it based on their behaviour and statements. You’ve suggested two things as evidence to help us judge, as follows.

      Lovejoy. Your point is that Lovejoy provided corrections, but Lomborg failed to heed them. There is a long history between Lomborg and Lovejoy. He was one of a coordinated group of critics who wrote reviews of The Skeptical Environmentalist for Scientific American in 2001. Like all of his colleagues in that venture, Lovejoy was absolutely scathing in his critique. Lomborg provided a response, going point-by-point through the issues raised by Lovejoy. Now, before I had read Lovejoy’s critique, I found the material in TSE about biodiversity and extinctions (which is Lovejoy’s main focus) to be the least convincing part of the book. But even so, weighing up the material presented by both sides, I felt that Lomborg won the debate easily. Others would judge it differently, not doubt, but that’s how I saw it. I’ve just re-read the critique and rejoinder (https://www.scientificamerican.com/media/pdf/lomborgrebuttal.pdf), and I still feel the same. Lovejoy comes out looking like he didn’t actually read the book properly, or doesn’t really understand the nature of Lomborg’s argument. Or perhaps, more charitably, he was so angry at the conclusions reached that his judgement was clouded. In my view, Lovejoy’s claim that Lomborg was unresponsive to his “corrections” should be seen in this light.

      Friel/Newsweek. There would be few researchers on the planet who could survive such an obsessive and unforgiving degree of scrutiny of references as Friel has provided. Inaccurate or misleading referencing of citations is a really common problem in science. I strike it all the time. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was some of this in Lomborg’s work, providing ammunition for Friel to attack. I’m not saying this is OK, but there is a level of unreasonableness in Friel’s approach (e.g. highlighting trivialities like whether something was published after four or six months, or whether a source was “Figure 10.6.1” rather than “Section 10.6.1.”) that makes me disinclined to take anything he says at face value. He seems unbalanced. The Newsweek journalist, who is basically on Friel’s side, also thinks he has gone overboard (“bothersome overkill”). The journalist seems more reasonable, but I’ve learnt by now not to accept these sorts of criticisms without further checking. This is a time-consuming activity, but I’ll try to check these claims and comment further.

      Even if Lomborg has made mistakes here, I still think lack of good faith is a big call. I can see that some might think that Lomborg is wrong in his judgements, or incompetent in his analysis, but after reading something like the response to Lovejoy and the other Scientific American critics, my view is that he is genuine in what he is trying to do.

      Denialist audience. I agree with you about the inappropriateness of that Tweet. At face value, it does look like it’s intended to goad or inflame. At the very least, it seems ill-judged. Generally, though, I don’t think Lomborg plays to the denialist audience. He spends too much time saying that climate change is an important issue for their taste. I suspect that some on that side of the debate use his arguments as sort of a second best option. But I think he has a bigger audience amongst people who suspect that things aren’t, or won’t become, as bad as we’re often told. Some, at least, aren’t anti-environment but think that environmental advocates do too much scare mongering for political reasons. Even this more moderate audience is unlikely to be impressed by that Tweet, though.

  • Allan Holmes
    22 April, 2015 - 1:22 pm | link

    Dave
    Bjorn might be a good bloke who presents as a rational and reasonable person. The problem though is that his history and activities have undermined the case for urgent action to combat climate change. What Lomborg argues is that there are more important things to spend scarce resources on than combatting climate change. He bases his argument on individual preference and particular economic models. This leads you down the path of accepting that expenditure on climate change mitigation is of lower priority than other social needs.

    What his rationale does not account for is the significance of climate change as a threat to the human race, to global diversity, and to the life support systems of the planet. If the risk of irreversible damage is high then arguing that other social needs are more important is absurd.

    The other political dimension of Lomberg in Australia is that we have a federal government with a particular perspective on climate change. The funding of a highly controversial and divisive figure is most unlikely to progress the rational debate that is required in Australia. The university’s reputation will be damaged by association. I realise that some will argue that this is censorship but Lomberg has been on the international stage for years and his reputation precedes him.
    Allan

  • Lucinda Corrigan
    22 April, 2015 - 1:30 pm | link

    Hi David,
    really enjoyed your considered thoughts as usual and would love to tweet this! Can you upgrade your blogsite! I have lots of mates through social media who need to read your wisdom
    Lucinda

  • 22 April, 2015 - 3:17 pm | link

    What I cannot fathom is why it takes $4m, and an international expert, to run a series of Delphi surveys with economists. Is there some magic in the method? There are enough serious criticisms to lead me to think that it is not the method that is being funded, but something else. The politics of climate change in Australia indicate that the purpose is political far more than it is scholarly.

  • Josh Dowse
    22 April, 2015 - 9:23 pm | link

    Hi David,

    Markus Mannheim’s article in the Canberra Times is indeed helpful. I hope this one is too – my article in Business Spectator after listening to Lomborg talk at the Lowy Institute in 2011. It seems to still apply – discredit sensible action on the grounds that there is other sensible action to take.

    “Lomborg’s false dichotomy
    Yesterday (8 March 2011), Bjorn Lomborg gave a thought-provoking talk at Sydney’s Lowy Institute. The talk will be reproduced at the Lowy’s website. Mr Lomborg is extremely articulate and persuasive, has an international reputation and is an exemplary self-promoter. We will no doubt hear more from him on this visit to Australia. Unfortunately he is, once again, dangerously wrong.

    Mr Lomborg argues that putting a price on carbon is a waste of money. We should be investing in low-emission R&D. But he presents this as though they were two alternatives. It’s a false dichotomy. We need both. We should invest in low-emission R&D, because that is by far the best chance of solving the problem. But how do we pay for that? A carbon price.

    Mr Lomborg, you may remember, published The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001. The book was highly significant as, to that point, there was no published tract to counter the consensus of the 1800-odd scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): ie, that human-induced climate change was well underway. The book therefore became a lightning rod for climate change sceptics. It was quoted heavily by certain industry groups, and was a telling influence in derailing attempts at global consensus on the response to what was, till then, the non-contentious reality of climate change.

    Mr Lomborg opened his talk today by saying, with powerpoint punctuation, that climate change was real and human-induced, and that the best authority on it is the IPCC. Nobody asked when and why he changed his mind on these matters. Wikipedia suggests it happened in 2010.

    His talk today was not on that change of heart, which would have been truly interesting. Rather, it was on what we should now be doing about the reality of climate change. Having admitted he was completely wrong on the science of climate change, he has in a year become an expert on what to do about it. He will be quoted, but on this evidence, should this time be ignored.

    Mr Lomborg confirms that, by 2100, the global cost of the negative effects of climate change will be $15 trillion. His argument runs that this is insignificant, being less than 1% of global GDP. (Which just goes to show how monetary valuations are often inadequate. Climate change impacts tend to be localized. $15 trillion equates to 1000 Christchurch disasters, which would be very significant to the people in 1000 such cities.)

    Because the cost of climate change is limited, he says, we should not overspend in seeking to avoid it. (Let’s agree on that.) And we should make sure that what we do spend is effective. (No argument there.)

    He then calculates that the Europeans are currently spending $180 billion a year on Kyoto-based policies, which if successful would avoid temperatures rising by just 0.002°C – translating to 3 cents of avoided costs for every $1 spent. Kyoto-based policies – ie a price on carbon – are therefore a waste of money.

    Instead, we should invest heavily in low-emission R&D. If we spent just half the Kyoto amount doing so, we could bring in the technologies needed to keep emissions stable, and avoid global warming. People would use the new technologies not because they were being forced to, but because they would be cheaper than coal. As soon as we reach that point, the problem will be solved. For every $1 invested, we would get $11 worth of the benefit of avoided climate change costs. Isn’t that better?

    Absolutely! But what makes Mr Lomborg dangerous is that he presents this as though they are two alternative paths. It’s a false dichotomy. We need both investment in R&D and a price on carbon. The low-emission technologies that result from sensible R&D are by far the best chance of our solving the problem. But how do governments pay for that, and what would offer the private sector an incentive to invest? A carbon price.

    The orthodox economic view is that when you put a price on carbon, the costs of high-emission energy and technologies go up. Low-emission alternatives become relatively cheaper, and so more commercially viable, and so more investment is attracted to develop them. In addition, if the government raises any funds through a carbon tax or an auction of carbon permits, those funds may be invested in early-stage R&D, accelerating the process. That’s what the tax or permit revenue is for.

    Transitional compensation is only to gain the political support to implement the scheme, without which nothing is possible.

    The more that is invested in R&D, the sooner low-emission technologies emerge to offer the consumer practical alternatives. On that we can agree with Mr Lomberg. But a carbon price is necessary for that public and private investment. As well, the carbon price is added to the cost of high-emission technologies, so that the low-emission alternatives undercut them more quickly, bringing forward the solution.

    Kyoto-based policies are not in themselves the solution, but are a necessary part of it. They are also transitional. Implementing a carbon price in a sensible and effective way will bring on new technologies, which in the end will make the carbon price less of an issue.

    In the words of many, the stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stone. We just found better ways of doing things. We may well do so again, as well as mitigate the worst effects of climate change. But not if we listen again to the likes of Mr Lomborg.”

  • Cindy Baxter
    24 April, 2015 - 12:13 pm | link

    Many climate economists have a problem with the way Lomborg calculates the future price of climate impacts.

    This piece in The Guardian quotes one of Australia’s top experts in this area: Professor Frank Jotzo, who questions (as many other climate economists do) Lomborg’s use of high discount rates in economic modelling (aka Richard Tol). I’ll quote directly from the Guardian piece, rather than paraphrasing it:

    <blockquote cite="Jotzo told me there are two key ways in which Lomborg’s methods manage to push climate change down the list of priorities.

    Firstly, it uses low estimates of the cost of each tonne of carbon dioxide using economic modeling techniques which fail to properly price the impacts of climate change.

    Estimates of this “social cost of carbon” vary massively. A study led by Stanford University scientists in January, for example, tried to better represent the costs of climate change impacts and found that each tonne of carbon dioxide had a cost to society of $220, compared to US government estimates of about $37.

    Secondly, these economic methods allow for the use of what’s known as “discount rates”.

    For example, if you buy a car that uses less fuel but costs more to buy, people will tend to discount the benefit because it takes a few years to get back the extra money you spent.

    In short, it’s a way of putting a price on human impatience (imagine telling a person living in 50 years time that you decided not to cut emissions in 2015 because you thought they were worth less dollars than you are now).

    On the point of discount rates, Jotzo is blunt:

    There is no broadly ethical case that can be made for present generations to be so selfish to say that we will not invest in mitigating climate change because the benefits of our investment today will accrue to future generations and not to us.

    What’s more, Jotzo says that while cost-benefit analysis can be useful, it doesn’t work when you apply it to climate change policy.

    How do you price, for example, the loss of a Pacific island nation and what that would mean for the cultures that have thrived there? What’s the price losing multiple species of flora and fauna or the Great Barrier Reef Jotzo adds:

    Climate change is exceptional because it has all of these dimensions that go beyond the practical capability of cost benefit analysis.”

    What do you say to this?

    • 26 April, 2015 - 12:43 pm | link

      Firstly, as the Guardian articles acknowledges, the analysis of climate policy options (and other investments) for the Copenhagen Consensus was not done by Lomborg, but by commissioned experts.

      Secondly, even if you want to claim that Lomborg is responsible for the analysis, the approach used is well within the range of approaches used by respectable economists.

      There is no clear consensus amongst economists on how to do an economic analysis of climate policy options. Most commonly, people (including big names you might have heard of like Bill Nordhaus and Nick Stern) have conducted fairly standard Benefit: Cost Analyses (BCA). There has been a lot of debate in the discipline on how to apply discounting in these studies. A sizable proportion have argued that we should just use standard discount rates, as typified by Nordhaus. Another view is that we should use a lower discount rate to account for intergenerational equity (Stern being the most prominent example). My own view is that the argument for lowering discount rates for reasons of equity is illogical, and likely to actually reduce equity. A third view, initiated by Martin Weitzmann, is that discount rates should start high and then fall over time due to uncertainty, not equity. This seems to be gaining support, but it’s not yet accepted as a standard approach.

      Then there is the view that a traditional BCA is not a suitable method for analysing climate policy. The most prominent exponent of this is Martin Weitzmann, who argued that Stern got the right answer, but for the wrong reasons, because a traditional BCA is not the right way to think about the issue. He argues that we should instead be viewing it as a kind of huge insurance problem. The most likely outcome isn’t catastrophic, but there is some small probability that it could be catastrophic (just as there is some chance that our house could burn down), so we should be willing to pay an insurance premium to reduce that risk. (Judging how much we should be willing to pay remains extremely difficult.)

      Different economists hold different views about these issues, and some hold them strongly. Personally, I side with Weitzmann on both discount rates and the BCA vs insurance issue. But there is no way you could argue that the work commissioned by Lomborg lies outside the realm of normal respectable economics.

  • Craig Russell
    27 April, 2015 - 11:55 pm | link

    Congratulations on your, as always, reasoned and civil manner. The slander from the likes of Dr’s Karl & Flannery is appalling, though not surprising. $4M is a drop in the bucket of the estimated $1B daily global expenditure on climate action and its escalating public funded industry, most of which is an absolute waste on a problem that does not exist. Nevertheless, if so-called climate skeptics can use a $10K grant from a Danish brewer to uncover the biggest breakthrough in climate science in the last century (conveniently ignored by the IPCC), imagine what Lomborg’s centre might do for effective future policy.
    It’s strange how the most aggressive advocates of climate action believe in science by consensus, with the suggestion that economics and the concept of opportunity cost are a capitalist right-wing concoction. In their utopia of centrally controlled societies economics does not seem to exist.
    The so called science of climate action is fundamentally flawed. They have confused cause and effect, grossly exaggerated climate sensitivity, ignored the fundamental radiative properties of CO2, slandered those who dare to question them, and in more than a few cases been caught cooking the books. Consensus might be how economic policy moves forward, but in real science where observations rule – consensus is the natural enemy.

  • 28 April, 2015 - 12:06 pm | link

    Here is an interesting article in the Guardian about playing the man, rather than the ball, in the context of Lomborg/UWA. http://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2015/apr/23/playing-the-ball-not-the-man It’s by Roger Pielke Jr, who I have a lot of respect for.

  • Sean Maxwell
    29 April, 2015 - 8:59 am | link

    Thanks for an informative article and follow up discussion, Dave. Very useful.

  • Dylan Jones
    29 April, 2015 - 5:04 pm | link

    Hi Dave, as touched on already by Michael Harris, do you know what makes the Consensus Centre’s methods so different to any other benefit-cost analysis and why it is being preferred? Also, could your own INFERR program not be extended to other social development issues?
    Thanks

  • George Crisp
    2 May, 2015 - 3:18 pm | link

    Out of interest, is there anyone in favour of Lomorb’s appointment who also doesn’t dispute the need for urgent action on climate change or it is as it seems an ideological ‘marriage of convenience’.

  • Tas Thamo
    3 May, 2015 - 4:04 pm | link

    Dave thanks for the interesting post and also those who have made thought provoking comments, in particular Michael Harris.

    Firstly, Whilst I agree that genuine solutions to global warming will ultimately only come from new technology that is cheaper than fossil fuels, I think the ‘pull’ of new technology does still need to be accompanied by some ‘push’ for transition in the form of carbon pricing. One only needs to look at the incredible reduction in the cost of solar PV in recent years. This has come about not due to some major technological breakthrough in solar panel design, but rather due to economies of scale and improvements in the production efficiency of what was fundamentally, an existing technology. Whilst we need new technologies, we also need policies to incentivise change and speed up the adoption of new technologies.

    Secondly, I think one reason Lomborg’s arguments attract so much criticism is the first-world lense through which we can’t but help view his comparisons between climate change and other-world-problems. Issues such as AIDS, malaria and malnutrition are basically things that do not affect those of us fortunate enough to live in the first world. Furthermore, these problems are also not by and large solely caused by the behaviour of people in developed countries. In contrast, whilst those in poor countries are likely be the most vulnerable to climate change, the climate does nonetheless affect all of us, including those in developed countries. And, as it is those of us in the developed countries that have created the problem, we also feel some guilty conscience about it (or at least we should). It is because of this that I think we—those in the first world who like to publish blogs and articles discussing the merits of Lomborg—are naturally inclined to be more concerned about climate than we are many of the world issues he compares it against. They just aren’t issues that we in the west can genuinely, tangibly relate to. We are fortunate enough to be able to have the luxury to fret about tomorrow’s climate because we know we don’t have to worry about whether there will be food on our plates tonight.

    I think we only have to look at the relative concern and public debate caused by the Abbott Government’s climate (in) action, and its cuts to foreign aid. Which of these two things do we, in the west, worry might have the potential to reduce the quality of life for OUR children, or even ourselves, if we are young enough?

  • 9 May, 2015 - 12:24 pm | link

    How about an update here, given that the Vice Chancellor has pulled the plug on the Lomborg tub.

    “”It’s very interesting that Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson has signed up to the University hosting this new centre. He must have anticipated that there would be controversy. I think it’s positive that the University hasn’t been scared off. A university is a good place to do work that challenges people to think differently.””

    It is even more interesting that upon serious reflection Paul Johnson has reversed the decision. Tony Abbott can now spend the money on some real research, involving THINKING without that dubious qualifier “differently”.

  • 11 May, 2015 - 6:21 am | link

    So, by now everybody knows that the University has cancelled the contract with the government and returned the money.

    http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201505087564/message-vice-chancellor-australian-consensus-centre

    It’s a pity, but I can understand the decision. It had become clear that, irrespective of the actual merits of the initiative, it had become a public-relations disaster and a source of huge concern amongst UWA staff and students. I don’t think the VC had any other choice, really.

    It’s clear from the VC’s message that he’s not withdrawing because he’s been convinced that the Centre would not have done useful work. The primary reasons seems to be opposition from staff. No organisational leader can ride roughshod over such widespread and passionate views of staff, especially at a time when the university needs the staff on side to deal with other challenges.

  • Edwina Kelly
    11 May, 2015 - 2:08 pm | link

    Do you not think it is also clear now just how large the political taint of this initiative was from the start, given Pyne and Joyce’s vocal attacks on the staff of UWA?

    Neither Minister have taken on board the criticisms which by many UWA academics were very measured. I am thinking here of Tim Mazzerol’s piece in The Conversation, your own blog and indeed of the questions raised at the in-house staff event with the VC. Particularly the questions raised regarding whether or not a risk assessment had been conducted by the university and the School of Business prior to the acceptance of the monies or the question on whether the government had offered to establish an Australian Centre for Consensus without an association with Dr Lomborg. Pyne and Joyce have instead decided to play the academics and not the ball without acknowledging the core business of a university.

    It is also clear that this is not a left-right issue as the Labour party have been silent throughout this process both before and after Friday’s announcement.

  • 14 May, 2015 - 7:56 am | link

    Lomborg’s history demonstrates how effective the strategy of throwing mud can be. Mud sticks, whether or not it is justified. The reviews of The Skeptical Environmentalist in Scientific American and the inquiry by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty are great examples. They continue to be trotted out as damning evidence, even in relatively neutral pieces like that by Tim Mazzarol, but they had almost no substance. The Danish inquiry was an absolute farce. I actually had some direct interaction with one of the scientists who initiated it, Jeff Harvey. After I published a favourable review of TSE, he sent me a long diatribe denouncing the book. I was amazed at the content, which was full of distortions and errors. To illustrate the quality of the evidence on which Lomborg was originally found to be scientifically dishonest, I thought some people might be interested to see my email reply to Harvey’s diatribe.

    October 2002

    Dear Jeff

    I read your emails with interest and care.

    First let me say that I am interested in knowing about real errors in TSE. If I have mis-judged the book, it is important to me to know that. I will be glad for you to help me with that. Also, I want to say that I do not know Lomborg and have never had any contact with him. My interest in this is in truth and balance.

    I must also say that there are some things I am not interested in reading, including:
    * Your boasts on how thoroughly you have out-debated Lomborg (I would rather be my own judge of that) or how much you intimidated him;
    * Arguments based on the credentials of any of the protagonists (people with no credentials can still be right.);
    * Personal abuse and vilification of Lomborg (it is irrelevant to any scientific debate)
    * Criticism of Lomborg on the basis of his association with unsavory individuals or groups
    * Broad generalisations about how terribly bad the book is on all sorts of grounds

    Unfortunately your emails include many things of these types, but these things are not at all helpful to me in identifying specific problems with the book. Their main effect on me is to make me doubt your balance and reasonableness.

    I would also say that when somebody is being so extremely critical of another person for being dishonest and misrepresenting information, that person ought to be particularly careful not to do the same thing in the course of his critique. I think a number or your criticisms involve misleading statements or distortions. Some are subtle, and might be a result of differences in our interpretations of what we’ve each read, but some are more serious, and do damage to your credibility as a balanced critic. For example, you say “FAO estimates of annual global deaths from pesticides (20,000 whereas Lomborg claims 20)”. I don’t know what lies behind the 20,000 number, but I would expect that it includes all pesticides, in all countries and all causes of death, most of which would be to those farmers who apply pesticides with poor safety equipment in developing countries (you’ll tell me if I’m wrong in those judgements). Lomborg’s number of 20 applies to one particular chemical (ETU), in one country (the USA), for one very specific cause of death (cancer from ingesting chemical residues in food, which is far less of an issue than deaths of those applying the chemical). On this point in particular, your honesty does not impress itself upon me. There are also numerous cases where you more subtly distort his arguments, or put lines into his mouth (“Lomborg writes as if”, “seems to be his credo”, “seems to argue that”), which lines are then easy prey for your attacks. A perceptive reader can see these strategies easily and is switched off by them.

    You asked how many critical reviews I read. I lost count, but well over a dozen. It included your review with Pimm in Nature. I am afraid that your review did not convince or impress me. It was certainly one of the ones I had in mind when I wrote my review and made adverse comments about other unbalanced reviews. (I recall there was a letter in a later issue of Nature that was highly critical of your review. I think the letter made some very good points.). Perhaps there really is substance in your review, and others of similar ilk such as those in Scientific American, but I would have to say that, if so, the group of scientists who wrote them have done an absolutely shocking disservice to their own cause. When I read them, I see numerous examples of Lomborg being quoted out of context, of his arguments being distorted or misrepresented, and generally many examples of the crimes of which they accuse Lomborg. You might be interested to know that prior to your email, all of the responses to my review by people who have read the book have said to me that they felt the negative reviews to have been unbalanced or even hysterical.

    I am quite willing to acknowledge real evidence of real faults in TSE, but as I noted in my written review, the main conclusion I came to from reading the adverse reviews was that he had really upset these people, but they had been outstandingly unsuccessful in their attempts to discredit his position. If they had spent more time spelling out the specific faults they claim to have found, and less time piling on the personal vilification, independent readers like myself would have been more likely to be convinced.

    Leaving aside the irrelevant parts of your emails, you do make some points with real content, and I’d like to respond to some of those.

    “Lombog … dismisses the more extreme projections of climate change agreed upon by the IPCC.” I think this is a misleading statement (a caricature of what he really does), but more importantly, the most powerful part of his argument is where he uses the IPCC standard projections without question.

    On greenhouse economics, when I look at the Nordhaus analyses (and the others of that type – there are quite a number) as well as the much more “pro-Kyoto” analyses, my judgement is that the truth is most likely to be somewhere in between, but that the Nordhaus camp is unlikely to be so extremely wrong that Lomborg’s conclusions break down. Even if the true cost of mitigation is much less than the Nordhaus estimates, the Lomborg case would still stand, unless it falls almost to zero. I don’t find the arguments for zero cost of such major changes to be credible.

    I agree with you that the forest chapter in TSE only tells part of the story. I don’t think that the chapter is completely without value, but I agree with you that not all forests are equivalent and for some environmental issues, the particular type of forest is the key issue.

    You and others make much of claims that Lomborg has been selective in his citations. I would like to see some real evidence of this. Your claim that he dispenses with evidence he doesn’t like is illustrated with a quite dishonest comparison of numbers (the 20,000 vs 20 deaths I mentioned above). Of course it will be possible to find studies he did not cite. You could hardly expect him to cite every study ever undertaken. The issue is about selective distortion.

    On the matter of extinctions, I commented in my review that I found the chapter in TSE to be relatively unconvincing. However, I found the critique by Tom Lovejoy to be even more unconvincing. In fact, I thought it was a disgrace (although not as much of a disgrace as the writings by the guy who mounted the attack on the greenhouse issue). If, as you imply, Lomborg is engaging in a deceptive and strategic campaign, then he is doing it far more effectively than his critics. When I read the critiques, my overwhelming feeling based on their style and content is that THEY are undertaking the deceptive and strategic campaign.

    I think the part of your email which explains much about the extremity of the differences is your comment that “Lomborg’s big gaffe … is that his book focusses on the material economy and dispenses with the natural economy.” I suspect that the gulf in positions is really caused by this difference in paradigm, with those scientists who eschew his anthropocentric approach being highly offended by the book. These scientists seem to have egged each other on to the point where they view Lomborg as the devil. I think this is greatly reducing your effectiveness in the debate, at least in reaching those who are not already highly sympathetic to a pretty extreme pro-environment position. You and your brothers in arms have caricatured and belittled his arguments in ways that make a skeptical reader feel that you either don’t understand them or are intentionally distorting them. As one example of this you say that, “He believes that, aside from aesthetic value, forests and freshwater and coastal ecosystems are important solely in generating income, or what is in national accounts.” I guess you must really believe that, but when I read the book, I certainly don’t get that message from it. (As an obvious example of why I don’t, I point to all that talk in the book about health effects of chemicals). He most certainly never says that environmental services are not important to him because “they do not carry prices”. Your distortion of his position on this might be forgivable as a misinterpretation on your part, but to place that phrase in quotes as you have done, implying that he said it to convey the meaning you ascribe, is simply dishonest. The problem you face in making statements like that is that others with a good scientific and economic background such as myself can read the book and form our own judgements. I am not willing to accept the reviews at face value, especially when they make so many statements that I can see for myself are based on distortions of the book.

    I know enough of human nature to realise that the authors of the reviews would believe that they have not distorted it. It partly gets back to that difference in paradigm. This seems to be so offensive to the critics that they really do lose their balance. Personally, I would acknowledge that the anthropocentric position is not everything, but it is important. And in trying to convince the public of the importance of the environment, environmental advocates routinely make cases based on the importance of the environment TO PEOPLE. One thing Lomborg has done is call the more extreme claims to account, and presented evidence that shows that they don’t stack up. It’s really a consequence of the environmentalists’ own strategy. If you want to make a case that the environment is important irrespective of its impacts on people, that’s fine, but that is a separate issue than most of the battery of issues raised in the Lomborg debate.

    You and your colleagues seem to interpret his objective as being anti-environment. I don’t see this at all. I think what he is doing is trying to make sure that the importance of environmental issues is properly weighed up in relation to the importance of other policy issues. These are not the same thing, as many critics seem to think.

    I need to stop and do some other work. My position is, I am open to be convinced about errors, but I need evidence. Lomborg provided citations for his claims. I need to see citations for the counter claims. How about we start with acid rain. That seems like a relatively simple and self-contained issue. What specifically do you think I should read to see the extent to which Lomborg has got it wrong?

    Best wishes
    Dave Pannell

    Harvey replied to this email with another diatribe which was no better. Another of Harvey’s correspondents did pick up the issues of acid rain and evaluated in detail his claims and accusations. The next comment shows what he found.

  • 14 May, 2015 - 8:50 am | link

    Further to my last comment, somebody else (Mark Wickens) looked in detail into the criticisms of Lomborg made by Jeff Harvey, focusing on acid rain. He put his findings online back in 2003. Below is an extract. This is a really striking illustration of the low quality of some of the criticisms made against Lomborg. Remember that Harvey’s claims were a key part of the evidence that was put to the Danish “dishonesty” inquiry which initially found Lomborg guilty!! The rest of this comment is an extract from Wickens’s post.

    As to most of the supposed examples of Lomborg’s dishonesty which make up the greater part of your letter, I will keep your information in mind as I continue to study the issues Lomborg raises. I did however decide to look into one of your two main “uncontested examples” of Lomborg’s dishonesty. I was intrigued by such a dramatic claim and thought it would be worth my time to evaluate what such a prominent Lomborg detractor from the scientific community as yourself had decided was one of his most damning examples.

    Harvey: “Example 1. On page 181 Lomborg downplays the effects of acid rain.”

    What Lomborg argues against in this chapter is the commonly-held idea that acid rain is the main cause of forest death. He does not say that acid rain has no impact on forest health, only that the claims made about its effects are greatly exaggerated by alarmist environmentalists. A paragraph earlier (p. 180), he summarizes his view this way:

    Lomborg: “Acid rain was simply not the terrible threat we were told it was in the 1980s. The anticipated large-scale forest death never took place.”

    You write:

    Harvey: “But which evidence is Lomborg citing? He bases this exclusively on a single graph in Simon’s “The State of Humanity” and on the 1990 findings of the heavily criticised National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (created during the Reagan administration which was notoriously hostile to the phenomenon).”

    This is false. Among the other studies he references are a 1996 study for UN Economic Commission for Europe and the EU (his footnote 1303) and a 1998 European Environment Agency report (1315).

    As for NAPAP, I understand it is the most comprehensive, most expensive study of acid rain ever done. I’m not familiar with the criticism of the study so you’d have to point me to some substantive refutations of its methodology or findings. I assume your pointing out the fact that it was carried out under the Reagan administration was not meant as a serious argument against it. (I did do a quick Google search, but found no relevant information except, ironically, a page noting how NAPAP’s findings have been baselessly ignored or dismissed as politically motivated.)

    Harvey: “But even here Lomborg selectively omits piles of studies that contradict his conclusions. For example the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation states that ‘Recent research shows that acid deposition has contributed to the decline of red spruce trees throughout the eastern United States and sugar maple trees in central and western Pennsylvania.”

    That acid rain “has contributed to the decline” of trees in some areas is not what Lomborg was arguing against. He was arguing that there’s no evidence to show it’s a predominant cause of forest death.

    Harvey: “Lomborg also failed to cite an updated report from NAPAP which reads: Sulfur and nitrogen deposition have caused adverse impacts on certain highly sensitive forest ecosystems in the United States. High-elevation spruce-fir forest ecosystems in the eastern United States are the most sensitive. Most forest ecosystems in the east, south and west are not currently known to be adversely impacted by sulphur and nitrogen deposition. However, if deposition levels are not reduced in areas where they are presently high, adverse effects may develop in more forests due to chronic multiple-decade exposure.”

    “Adverse effects” does not equal predominant cause of forest death, nor was Lomborg refuting claims that “certain highly sensitive forest ecosystems” might be affected by acid rain.

    Harvey: “An even more up to date reference that comments on sugar maple declines in the northeast is “Acidic deposition in the northeast United States: Sources and inputs, ecosystem effects, and management strategies, by C.T. Driscoll et al. Bioscience vol 51, pages 180-198.”

    Because I was able to locate this article online, I decided — even though “decline” does not equal forest death — to see if it had anything more damning to report than what you had claimed. In short, episodic dieback is the worst effect claimed and acid rain is not cited as the main cause of it. It’s not even claimed that acid rain may be the primary cause of the phenomenon. All we have is a claim that acid rain may contribute to it, along with factors such as poor forest management. Hardly the dramatic contradiction to Lomborg’s thesis that would demand his highlighting or even mentioning it.

    Harvey: “Dr Robert Bruck of North Carolina State University has examined acid rain’s effects on forest health and concludes that: Acid rain and cloud deposition are the primary culprits in the loss of spruce and fir forests.”

    Of all those you provided, this was the only example fingering acid rain as a primary culprit in forest death. On the face of it, this would indeed seem worthy of Lomborg’s attention. So, I went to find out where Dr. Bruck made this claim and how he backed it up. A Google search quickly turned up that it was an environmental group that made this claim about Bruck’s research, not Bruck himself. Nevertheless, I decided to pursue the Bruck research further. I emailed both Bergoffen and Bruck to get a reference to the actual study behind this claim. Both responded, pointing me to Dr. Bruck’s chapter in the 1989 book, Air Pollution’s Toll on Forests and Crops. I made a visit to the library and read the chapter in question.

    The relevant part describes spruce-fir mortality in 16 high-elevation stand of spruce-fir trees following a drought and harsh winter weather.

    Bruck: “41 and 49 per cent of all spruce and fir, respectively, were classified as dead during the spring 1987 resurvey. This sudden mortality is likely attributable to the combined effects of a severe regional drought during the spring and summer of 1986 and a severe rime ice event that struck the Black Mountains on Dec 1 1986.” [p.138]

    Later he says

    Bruck: “The high deposition of the acidic, nutrient and toxic substances principally due to cloud deposition may also be a predisposing or contributing factor to the apparent increased rate of stand deterioration.” [p.145]

    And Bruck concludes in his summary:

    Bruck: “At the present time there is no definitive proof that acid deposition is limiting the growth of forests in either Europe of the United States. … Assessing the possible impacts (cause and effect) of atmospheric deposition on forest productivity is difficult and will require techniques other than those involving comparisons between affected and unaffected sites.” [p.186]

    Far from claiming that “acid rain and cloud deposition are the primary culprits in the loss of spruce and fir forests,” Bruck, after all his research, will not even claim that acid rain is limiting the growth of forests. Indeed, it seems clear that his research warrants no such claim, based as it is on such a small sample.

    Having taken up your challenge to look into an “uncontested” example of Lomborg’s dishonesty, I have to say that the result is that I will be even more skeptical of Lomborg’s critics from now on.

  • 18 May, 2015 - 8:29 am | link

    In response to some of the comments received on this post: I’m happy to approve comments that reflect a diversity of views, but they need to be on topic, and they need to have some substance, not just rants.

  • Jeff Harvey
    16 November, 2017 - 5:48 pm | link

    Good grief, it took me two years to stumble on this appalling defense of the indefensible (Lomborg and his appalling tome).What it shows, David, is that you are way out of your depth when it comes to discussions on human impacts on the environment. It’s clear to me that your views are not based on the empirical evidence – of which there are by now volumes – but on some other personal ideology. You accuse me of engaging in a diatribe when indeed this is what you are doing. The vast majority of statured experts certainly side with me over Lomborg when it comes to discussions on human impacts on the environment. After skewering him in a face-toface debate in 2002, Lomborg has avoided me like the plague. He has no relevant expertise in any of the fields he superficially covers in his book. His chapter on biodiversity would fail as a thesis in most Master’s courses. If you ever want to discuss these issues with me in a civil tone, then by all means I up up for it. But to use your blog or whatever you call this page as a personal vehicle to attack me is simply pathetic. You are certainly no more qualified to comment on environmental issues than I am, and because your field lies well outside of ecology, indeed in many of the chapters you are less so.

    • 16 November, 2017 - 7:03 pm | link

      I was not intending to attack you. I have not made personal comments about you (unlike your comments on me). I was merely using your material as an illustration of the low quality of some of the critiques of Lomborg. I still think they illustrate that very well.

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