Lomborg science

I was going to write a post about the whole Lomborg saga, but I really can’t be bothered writing too much. If you want to read about his many errors, you could read Graham Readfearn’s Guardian article. If you want to read a defense of Lomborg, you could read Roger Pielke Jr’s. Roger’s article makes the perfectly reasonable suggestion that we shouldn’t demonise academics, but fails to acknowledge that Lomborg is not an academic by any standard definition, that criticising what someone says is not demonising them, and fails to recognise the irony of suggesting that we shouldn’t demonise Lomborg, while essentially demonising his critics. In fact, if you want to read a good discussion of why Lomborg’s appointment is anything but academic, this is pretty good.

However, ignoring that Lomborg appears to have a rather tenuous grasp on the basics of climate science, my main issue with what he says is its simplicity. Take all the problems in the world, determine some kind of priority ordering, and then start at the top and work your way down – climate change, obviously, being well down the list. It’s as if Lomborg doesn’t realise that the world is a complex place and that many of the problems we face are related. We can’t necessarily solve something if we don’t also try to address many of the other issues at the same time. It’s this kind of simplistic linear thinking – and that some seem to take it seriously – that irritates me most. It reminds me of another theory that I saw presented some time ago.

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126 Responses to Lomborg science

  1. Since I’m advertising other people’s articles, this recent post by Lawrence Torcello is also very good. Really clarifies consensus, correllation/causation, and denial extremely well.

  2. Richard says:

    I assume the title of this post is a deliberate oxymoron!?

  3. Joshua says:

    Link to Pielke’s article not working?

  4. Eli Rabett says:

    Bjorn Lomborg suffers from a disbelief that humanity can walk and chew gum at the same time. Stephen Gardiner (with a small assist from Eli), tore Lomborg’s nonsense apart years ago

    To Gardiner, this is already swallowing a large bunny foot without sauce, because while climate change threaten everyone, not just the the poor, but, of course, as Richard Tol says, climate change threatens the poor the most. Others can take it in the nose maybe but if you care about the poor you will take care of the threat of climate change.

    Lomborg argues that the right answer is to help the current poor now, since they are poorer than their descendants will be, because they are more easily (cheaply) helped and because in helping them one is also helping their descendants
    But wait, there are, as they say, issues

    The first is the threat of a false dichotomy. Arguments from opportunity cost crucially rely on the idea that if a given project is chosen, then that choice forecloses some other option. But this is not the case in Lomborg’s version. Helping the poor and mitigating climate change are not obviously mutually exclusive. . .

    Second it is not clear even that the two projects are independent of each other, in the sense that they are fully separable opportunities rather than necessarily linked and perhaps mutually supporting policies. . . .

    Third, it is not clear that the opportunity that Lomborg wants to emphasize is really available.

    After all, the poor have always been with us, and there is no evidence that rich countries will step in to eliminate poverty (or, as Gardiner points out to mitigate climate change). Fourth to Gardiner, this looks a lot like the first step in a “bait and switch” strategy.

    The last point, is indeed the key. Of course, Roger believes that partying in a cruise ship compound on Haiti right after the earthquake was a contribution to the poor

  5. Eli,
    This – from your post (Stephen Gardiner quote) – pretty much expresses my problem with the whole “but the poors” argument, put more eloquently than I could

    “even hard nosed benefit cost analysts” agree that the claim that future people could be compensated by an alternative policy loses relevance if we know that the compensation will not actually be paid.

  6. John Hartz says:

    Has Lonberg ever gone beyond talking about the need to alleviate poverty to actually doing somenthing about it?

  7. JH,
    No, but – as I suspect you also think – that’s kind of the point.

  8. Michael 2 says:

    “Take all the problems in the world, determine some kind of priority ordering, and then start at the top and work your way down”

    Sounds good; sounds like business process optimization as it was described in the 1990’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_management

    It is likely each person’s list varies from the next person’s list. Each person already prioritizes what he or she perceives as problems. Social groups will naturally form around people whose lists are similar.

    Exceptions to these rules exist. In my own work in computer programming, sometimes I might work on the “big problem” but sometimes it is too big; so I work on a small problem — which, more often than not, actually caused the big problem.

    In the case of world politics, the big, never-ending problem is poverty. The problem has two solutions — one is “more of everything” (more food, water, energy) but that’s not really practical, the other is “fewer people”; a solution regularly revisited in 3rd world nations and easily implemented by almost anyone.

  9. anoilman says:

    Having a Political Scientist head up anything but a think tank is truly stupid.

    Anders, you’re missing a reference to my favorite article about Lomborg;
    https://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/lomborg-long-game/

    Bjorn’s argument is that we should raise taxes, and give the money to the third world and otherwise help those in need. He puts zero effort in that endeavor, and that is the point.

    Can you imagine any conservative person thinking we should just give away money? They’d argue over every penny till you gave up!

    Listen to him at your peril.

  10. Listen to him at your peril.

    Jeepers, hope you don’t think I do. John’s post is good. I read it a while back, but had forgotten about it.

  11. anoilman says:

    Anders, Oh I don’t think so. That’s just one of my favorite pictures. I met the artist on the weekend and got a signed copy of that print.

    I think it typifies what I believe the denial community is doing. Its a little like saying, “Nice bunny… nice bunny… RAWR!”

    Of course that would make you this character;

  12. Rob Nicholls says:

    Really enjoyed reading the article linked to by Eli, especially the first quote from Stephen Gardiner.

    Thanks Anoliman for the article about misdirection. Quite apart from its application to Lomborg, I feel like I should have read it about 20 years ago; it would have saved me a lot of confusion when watching politicians in action.

  13. BBD says:

    M2

    Each person already prioritizes what he or she perceives as problems.

    And then there’s physics, which doesn’t give a brightly-coloured monkey’s arse either way.

  14. Andy Skuce says:

    “Political Scientist” always reminds me of “Criminal Lawyer”, where the meaning of the phrase depends on which word you choose to stress.

    Breaking Bad:

  15. MikeH says:

    The decision to appoint Lomborg came directly from Prime Minister Abbott’s office. His government has stripped $11 billion from Australia’s foreign aid budget so you can be certain that it is Lomborg’s opposition to carbon mitigation and not concern for the poor that has driven the decision.

    As for Pielke’s argument. Lomborg has a semi-regular column in Murdoch’s national newspaper The Australian, a privilege denied to Australian climate scientists. So the idea that Lomborg’s views are being suppressed or even curtailed is risible.

  16. matt says:

    > Bjorn’s argument is that we should raise taxes, and give the money to the third world and otherwise help those in need. He puts zero effort in that endeavor, and that is the point.

    Aus cut $8bn (over 5yrs) from foreign aid – largest single budget saving IIRC. Wonder if he will criticise that move.

  17. JCH says:

    I know Americans would just love to build coal plants for people who make less than $2 a day. Soon their lives will be so good they’ll be paying the same $600 a month electrical bill I do, and then they’ll have the same cheap energy I have.

  18. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman says:

    “Bjorn’s argument is that we should raise taxes, and give the money to the third world”

    Sure, it is easy to be generous with Other People’s Money.

    “Can you imagine any conservative person thinking we should just give away money?”

    There is no “we”. I am somewhat conservative (not knowing for sure what exactly it is) and I just give away (some) money. I don’t take yours to give and I’d rather you didn’t take mine to give.

  19. anoilman says:

    Andy Skuce: HAHAHAHA!!!! I hadn’t thought of it that way! “We don’t need a political scientist. We need a Political, Scientist.”

    Doesn’t Judith “It may be bad, but I can’t say we should do anything about it.” Curry, Richard “Duh? Can anyone prove my theory?” Lintzen, Willy “I know for a fact its not the sun.” Soon, and pile of others fit that bill?

  20. John Mashey says:

    anoilman: thanks for the kind words about my long-ago post.
    But sadly, although I own both the long UK edition and short US editions of Cool It!,
    a few sentences in the Acknowledgements did not register:

    “I do want to say thank you…
    to Richard Tol for making many of the economic arguments work better;
    to Roger Pileke for many great suggestions for this book throughout the time I’ve known him;”…

  21. austrartsua says:

    Well, what is happening to Lomborg at the moment with this UWA thing is not mere “criticism”, it is full-blown censorship. We have unhinged academics angry that someone who would dare to have an opinion other than their one is being appointed at their university. What of free speech? What of academic freedom? What of tolerance of differing opinions? Since when did all academics (yes, Lomborg has a PhD and does research, so he is an academic) all have to agree all the time? Finally, what of the enlightenment?

    My friend, It is dead, gone and buried. And you sir are standing by with a shovel.

  22. MikeH says:

    @austrartsua
    You have a rather strange conception of academic freedom. Abbott has spent $4m to buy Lomborg a professorship and centre at UWA because Lomborg shares the government’s opposition to carbon mitigation. And you can be certain that having paid $4m, they will expect a return in research output that is in step with the government’s view. There are totalitarian regimes that would be embarrassed by that.

    And the reason that academics are angry is that Abbott is cutting back university funding & climate science research in particular but was able to find $4m to fund a ideological hack with very limited academic credentials and a history of making stuff up.

  23. austratra,

    Well, what is happening to Lomborg at the moment with this UWA thing is not mere “criticism”, it is full-blown censorship.

    I don’t think you understand the definition of censorship and it would appear that you’re also one of those who thinks free speech is uni-directional. This is a good explanation for why Lomborg’s appointment is circumventing normal a standard academic pathway. Of course, if he was some kind of brilliant polymath, that might be okay. Given that he clearly isn’t, it’s hard to see why his appointment is worth all the cost.

  24. izen says:

    The opacity surrounding the details and decision making in this Lomborg centre establishment is interesting. The reports of the meetings between outraged academics and the university administration make it clear that the terms, conditions and motivation for establishing this new business center are not open for discussion.

    In the face of astonished response of ‘What were you THINKING’ from the academic community the university statement strongly implies, ‘don’t blame us, it was the Government’s idea’.
    When the Government Minister for education in charge of this sort of thing with universities was then asked ‘What were you THINKING!’ various hints and leaks revealed that it came from the top. Apparently King Abbott, or his Morgana la Fay, contacted the university and told them there was 4 million in it for setting up a Bjorn Lomborg center promoting his ‘priorities’ economics.

    However the university is claiming all the money for this is coming from the Government, the Government, while not denying the 4 million, is strongly implying that the university will be paying around double this for the privilege of having a branch of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

    The University announced that sparked all this is worth a read.

    http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201504027455/events/new-economic-prioritisation-research-centre-uwa

    The mix of specificity with regard to goals, and compelte opacity as regards to means is perhaps unremarkable for this sort of announcement of something new.

    But I want to draw attention to the Photo illustrating the ‘News’ in the top right corner. The caption states UWA vice-chancellor Professor Paul Johnson (left and Bjorn Lomborg.

    The picture is almost a paradigm of the reconciliation of the radical and the establishment.
    Youthful, muscular media-savvy radical with black tee-shirt and floppy blond quiff hair-style shakes hands across a dark brown desk with older, bespectacled suit-wearing member of the status quo.
    All in a formal setting, plain walls, large lead-light windows and view of garden type landscape.

    The two men manage an awkward handshake while facing the camera rather than each other, the classic pose for these ‘posed’ photo-opportunities. Someone at the university thought the occasion important enough for an official university photograph to be taken. Artfully scatter on the desk in front of the two men are some papers and a pen. Implying this is the contract, or agreement they have just mutually signed to bring about this welcome reconciliation between the formal and the radical.

    I wonder if any answers to the questions now being asked is in that paperwork?

    In pictures of the meetings between the seekers of truth and the defenders of the status quo I doubt few are more ambiguous as to which is which that that little photo…

  25. russellseitz says:

    John, I just read your long ago post and confess my disappointment- not with its critique of Lomborg’s casuistry, but with the way its opening categorizations soon decline into “anti-science” roughly corresponding to failure to agree with your taste in policy bounds.

  26. BBD says:

    Finally, what of the enlightenment?

    My friend, It is dead, gone and buried. And you sir are standing by with a shovel.

    Speaks a ‘sceptic’ in defence of Lomborg. One has to smile.

  27. anoilman says:

    austrartsua: Lomborg is not a scientist and he does not do science. This is in fact his defense for his crappy work;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Lomborg#Formal_accusations_of_scientific_dishonesty

    Real scientists do indeed have to submit to some degree of enforcement. If you lie, you will be punished in as much as a bunch of other scientists can do. This can even entail the removal of your degree;
    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/8224/8224physicist.html

    Lomborg argues that he is NOT DOING SCIENCE, and that he is in fact ‘debating’. Also, since he’s not doing science, that means he doesn’t know much. This appears to be a measured fact, “In January, 2003, the DCSD released a ruling that sent a mixed message, finding the book to be scientifically dishonest through misrepresentation of scientific facts, but Lomborg himself not guilty due to his lack of expertise in the fields in question.”

    This isn’t not about free speech, its about remedial levels of competence. Bjorn clearly lacks it. Are Australians really stupid enough to hire someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

    But hey, he is a Political, Scientist.

  28. graemeu says:

    Anoilman
    ” Are Australians really stupid enough to hire someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about?”
    Just the budgie smuggler.

  29. Ken Fabian says:

    In a bizarre twist – at least in my opinion – Australia’s leading nuclear for climate advocate (Barry Brooks who runs BraveNewClimate) has come out in favour of Ecomodernism –
    https://theconversation.com/an-ecomodernists-manifesto-save-wildlife-by-embracing-new-tech-40239#comment_652027
    – which looks like Barry Brooks supporting a way to intellectualise downplaying the seriousness and urgency of the climate problem, simply because, on the face of it, it favours nuclear over renewables, Yet, as far as I can tell, Lukewarmism is shamelessly using popular opposition to nuclear to prevent or delay the broad, firm, political commitment to fixing it that is essential for nuclear. It does so by offering it as the unacceptable “bar too high” to the most vocal proponents of action on climate (this gambit probably has a name). Like it’s been up to Environmentalism, not mainstream politics, to come up with ‘acceptable’ solutions!

    Stopping renewables, not fixing climate – appears to have become the primary focus of Australia’s Nuclear for Climate advocates – and that is what unites them with Lukewarmism as well as with Conservative Right politics – despite the incompatible aims.

    One thing is certain, PM Abbott has NOT turned to Lomborg in order to more effectively and rapidly fix the climate problem and obsolete the coal industry with nuclear energy.

  30. somehow it got overlooked that Lomborg’s position on climate change is roughly similar to that of the IPCC, and that his new centre will not focus on climate policy

  31. Richard,

    somehow it got overlooked that Lomborg’s position on climate change is roughly similar to that of the IPCC

    Well, I think the correct statement is that he and others claim this to be true. What he actually says seems to suggest that it isn’t quite. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who has to tell you what their views are isn’t doing a good job of making it obvious.

    his new centre will not focus on climate policy

    Two issues with this. Given our current position, what is the point of a policy centre that isn’t going to make climate change one of its foci? Also, even if this is the case, that Lomborg seems to not understand a topic that he has been involved with for a very long time might suggest that he really doesn’t have the academic abilities for the position he’s been offered.

  32. “what is the point of a policy centre that isn’t going to make climate change one of its foci”

    well, there’s more to life

    “he really doesn’t have the academic abilities for the position he’s been offered”

    you’re an astronomer, the position is in a business school

  33. well, there’s more to life

    Indeed, but a policy centre that does not focus on something that many regard as having significant policy relevance would seem rather odd.

    the position is in a business school

    Okay, not quite sure what you’re implying here. It’s okay to be academically weak if you’re in a business school?

  34. What’s odd about focus?

    Sorry for being unclear: As an astronomer, who are you to judge whether someone qualifies for an adjunct position in a business school?

  35. What’s odd about focus?

    Huh? I didn’t think what I said was all that complicated.

    As an astronomer, who are you to judge whether someone qualifies for an adjunct position in a business school?

    Firstly, in the spirit of free speech (which I think you claim to support) I really just expressed an opinion, so I didn’t really judge his qualifications in some formal way, did I? Additionally, I was simply pointing out that his understanding of the basics of something that is regarded by many as being policy relevant seems extremely poor (despite many people providing corrections) which – IMO – would seem to make him unsuitable to run a policy centre.

    To be clear, though, if this was simply an adjunct position, I certainly wouldn’t be all that bothered, and I suspect the level of criticism would be much lower than it is at the moment. Putting someone controversial into a university setting can be quite interesting. This – from what I’ve seen – is much more about the process; that it was done in a manner that was non-competitive and that it’s happened at a time when there have been substantial cuts elsewhere.

  36. So, you are worried that someone who, in your eyes, is not suited to study climate policy is not going to study climate policy?

  37. Richard,
    Why would I be worried? I think his ideas are simplistic and I think his understand of basic climate science is poor. Come on, you either need to put a bit of effort into your reading comprehension, or try to be less obvious in your attempts to trivialise what other people are saying.

  38. Joshua says:

    is Lomborg being given this money and just being told, “We think you’re a swell guy, so here’s $4 million. Have fun with it.” Or are there some clear objectives and goals?

  39. The interesting thing about this whole saga is that I’m struggling to find an example of anyone who actually defends Lomborg by highlighting his actual position. I might have missed some, but the best I kind find is Andrew Montford’s post which I’ll repeat in full below

    Bjorn Lomborg argues that we should focus our spending on immediate problems, such as ensuring Africans have access to clean water. For this he is vilified, attacked and has his livelihood threatened.

    His critics wish to see money spent on climate change mitigation measures instead.

    A tragedy for the Africans.

    which might be intellectually strong by Andrew’s standard, but is pretty damn pathetic by anyone else’s. The idea that it is simply spend on problems facing Africans versus climate change mitigation is clearly nonsense. Also, that the only person who knows what’s best for Africa is Bjorn Lomborg, and that criticising him is going to lead to a tragedy for Africans, is also cobblers.

    On the other hand we have Richard Tol here and Roger Pielke Jr in the Guardian, neither of whom have actually defended Lomborg’s ideas, they’ve both simply been criticising his critics (Tol because I can’t judge someone who will work in a business school and Pielke Jr because we shouldn’t demonise academics). Almost makes me think that it is pretty hard to actually defend Lomborg’s ideas, but maybe someone can point me to an example where even a moderately successful attempt has been made.

  40. Joshua says:

    I wonder if Roger thinks that Lomborg is a stealth advocate? Anyone seen anything Roger has said on that? Anyway, if he does think that Lomborg falls into that category, while I thought Roger’s article was pretty interesting (in particular, tracking down the Alice Dreger story was fascinating) and actually pretty reasonable, I have to question his consistency in failing to point out the counterproductive impact of Lomborg’s stealth advocacy

    I’m curious to know what specific suggestions that Lomborg (or Montford for that matter) for how we should spend money to save Africans. What specific policies are they advocating for? Are they trying to pass legislation to fund the building of coal plants? Are they lobbying for policies to fund clean water initiatives?

    If anyone has information along those lines it would be appreciated. My guess is that if they actually lobbied in favor of such efforts they would lose practically all the support that they receive for saying that what we shouldn’t be doing is expending resources to mitigate ACO2 emissions (or even in support of funding to study the impact of ACO2 emissions?).

  41. Roger’s article was pretty interesting (in particular, tracking down the Alice Dreger story was fascinating) and actually pretty reasonable

    Really? Reasonable in a general context, or with regard to Lomborg specifically. I just found it a bit ironic in that he appeared to be essentially demonising those criticising Lomborg while arguing that we shouldn’t demonise people. I think if Lomborg were simply a quiet, career academic, then I think the article would make a stronger case. Lomborg isn’t, though, he has a strong media profile and I don’t see how you can expect to be in such a position and then argue against being criticised.

  42. Willard says:

    > who are you to judge whether someone qualifies for an adjunct position in a business school?

    Richard’s an authoritarian, out of a sudden.

  43. @Willard
    Maybe. I don’t get involved in appointments in astronomy departments because I can’t tell Santa’s Sleigh from the International Space Station. Our dear host lacks both the seniority and the expertise to be invited to appointment panels in business schools.

    @Wotts
    My opinion of CC08 is in the public domain, and you would have noticed CC12. While I like the Copenhagen Consensus, I don’t think it is suitable for climate policy.

  44. Our dear host lacks both the seniority and the expertise to be invited to appointment panels in business schools.

    Of course, why would anyone think otherwise. You should look up strawman. Plus, you appear not to have actually read my post. It was really meant to just be mocking Lomborg for his rather simplistic approach to a complex topic. If the Australians want to give $4million to a venture headed by Lomborg, be my guest. I have a feeling, though, that a good number of Australians aren’t too happy about it either.

    While I like the Copenhagen Consensus, I don’t think it is suitable for climate policy.

    Well, yes, by default.

  45. anoilman says:

    Richard Tol: “Who are you to judge whether someone qualifies for an adjunct position in a business school?”

    Its called ‘due diligence’. Look it up some time. One should always (and I mean always) judge who they are talking to, and what they are qualified to say lest you call to some scam or a pile of BS.

    Here… let me help you since you’ve obviously learned about this before;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_diligence

    Its already an established fact that in Lomborg’s case, that he’s not a scientist actively working with the natural sciences. He says he is debating, and NOT doing science. That makes Lomborg just as qualified as a hair dresser to advise the Australian government on Climate Change.

  46. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Also, that the only person who knows what’s best for Africa is Bjorn Lomborg, and that criticising him is going to lead to a tragedy for Africans, is also cobblers.

    I hesitate to be pedantic, but I think ‘facile bilge’ would have worked even better here. 🙂

  47. Willard says:

    > I don’t get involved in appointments in astronomy departments […]

    Bjorn’s new gig ain’t filed under department politics, Richard. However, this previous ClimateBall episode might be filed under department, politics:

    Richard Tol, an economist at the University of Sussex, has waged a relentless campaign to convince the world that one of my published articles is illegitimate and must never be mentioned. (Frank Ackerman and Charles Munitz, “Climate Damages in the FUND Model: A Disaggregated Analysis,” Ecological Economics, 2012.) He has written to my employers and publishers, accusing me of libel for writing this technical article. This is a false accusation of a serious offense, no longer just an academic disagreement. It has gone far beyond the bounds of acceptable debate.

    http://frankackerman.com/tol-controversy/

    My favorite bit on that page is this:

    “The response is anonymous. Let’s refer to its author as Frank Ackerman Jr, who does not work at Tufts University. Junior is unrelated to Frank Ackerman. They just have a name in common…” – and continues with a long rejoinder to “Junior.”

    Some other times you seem to prefer less physical plays:

    Here’s a hypothesis, let’s test it. Let the results speak for themselves. Let the chips fall where they may.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/22/bjorn-stevens-in-the-cross-fire/#comment-696158

    What’s up with that, Richard?

  48. @anoilman
    Lomborg’s new center will not focus on climate change.

    @willard
    Care to focus on the point?

  49. guthrie says:

    Well, here we have a statement of fact from Richard, which could be read as a prediction. Anyone else think that it’ll turn out to be false, and Lomborg’s new gig will involve a fair bit of time pontificating on the importance of GROWTH and of not doing anything about climate change in order to focus on GROWTH?

  50. Care to focus on the point?

    I think he is.

  51. anoilman says:

    Richard Tol says: “@anoilman
    Lomborg’s new center will not focus on climate change.”

    Given that he currently spends the bulk of his cash on public relations, and is backed by fossil fuels, I fail to see the value in him or the need for a University to be involved.
    http://desmogblog.com/2014/06/25/millions-behind-bjorn-lomborg-copenhagen-consensus-center

    I think that the real issue is that denialists realize that they need a veneer of legitimate backing in order for people to take their bullshit seriously. So it would seem he’s found a friend at the top of the Austrailian government.

    So lets look at his goals, shall we?”UWA said the Australia Consensus Centre would have “three main projects” – advising on the “smartest” post-2015 UN international development goals, advising on what policies would best “keep Australia prosperous in a generation’s time” and “setting global priorities for development aid and helping Dfat and development agencies produce the most good for every development dollar spent”.”

    Wow. Did you notice that Lomborg is uneducated in ALL OF THAT?

    (Anyone wanna bet WiIly Soon is applying for work there?)

  52. Eli Rabett says:

    Lomborg;s position on helping Africans is clear. The Austrailian Government gives him s 4MAU$ to set up his new digs, and cuts foreign aid by 11BAu$

  53. Willard says:

    > Care to focus on the point?

    Which point, Richard: the similarity of Lomborg’s position and the IPCC’s, the focus of the new Lomborg Collective’s Consensus Center, that there’s more to life, AT’s background, the relationship between the new Lomborg Collective’s Consensus Center and business schools, the authority upon which adjuncts get voted in, AT’s worries, or the topic of the post, which is none of the above, i.e. all those you injected in the thread?

  54. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Really? Reasonable in a general context, or with regard to Lomborg specifically.”

    I’m trying to not just react reflexively because of my dislike for Lombog’s advocacy – but more generally that specifically. I don’t really know how the judge the Lomborg[specific context.

    It this kind of hiring unprecedented? Did they just basically say “Here, we think you’re a nice guy” and hand him the money or is there some kind of mandate or outline of criteria for accountability for what he does with the money. Academic institutions like to hire rock stars, but it seems to me that usually they have some kind of established guideline criteria.

    ==> “I just found it a bit ironic in that he appeared to be essentially demonising those criticising Lomborg while arguing that we shouldn’t demonise people”

    Yeah, well that’s Roger. He’s critical of antipathy and then hides behind plausible deniability to cloak his own aggressiveness; and I did have to chuckle at his “Woe is me” w/r/t his fivethirtyeight gig.

    ==> “Lomborg isn’t, though, he has a strong media profile and I don’t see how you can expect to be in such a position and then argue against being criticised.”

    I guess the question is how to separate criticism of what happened from merely instinctively critical reaction to the specifics of Lomborg’s advocacy. What are some principles that could be implemented to keep there from being overlap?

  55. Joshua,
    If it happened as it seems, then it seems rather unprecedented. Normally there would be a formal search for someone to lead such a venture. Simply announcing that something like this is happening and who will lead it is quite unusual – I think. Of course, I suspect that a response might be that Lomborg is bringing his centre to the UWA, but it still seems quite unusual.

    I guess the question is how to separate criticism of what happened from merely instinctively critical reaction to the specifics of Lomborg’s advocacy. What are some principles that could be implemented to keep there from being overlap?

    I guess my point was simply that if you are choosing to have a highly public profile in a contentious area, criticism is going to happen. Hiding behind the “don’t demonise academics” just because he has an association with a university just seems like a weak argument.

  56. Joshua says:

    ==> “Of course, I suspect that a response might be that Lomborg is bringing his centre to the UWA, but it still seems quite unusual.

    Yeah – that was my thinking. I’m not sure that it isn’t legit to say that here’s a researcher who will bring something to the institution. There doesn’t have to be a situation where they first designate a “hole” or subject for research and then go out to find someone to fill that hold. But again, it seems to me there that there has to be some kind of clear outline for accountability. What is he expected to produce? I wonder if there’s any kind of structure to this hiring other than them saying “Here’s a rock star, let’s give him some money.” If there’s really nothing else there, it really seems like a very poor precedent to set.

    ==> “I guess my point was simply that if you are choosing to have a highly public profile in a contentious area, criticism is going to happen Hiding behind the “don’t demonise academics” just because he has an association with a university just seems like a weak argument.”

    But if we assume that at least to some extent, greater diversity in academia is probably a good thing, then I think it’s important to clearly outline how criticism isn’t merely resistance to diversity. Perhaps that’s a bit like asking “When did you stop beating your wife?” But then again it is important to somehow establish a clear outline for why it isn’t merely objection to academic diversity.

  57. anoilman says:

    Anders/Joshua… its not unprecedented…

    Here’s a Canadian version.
    http://thetyee.ca/News/2011/04/27/CarsonOilSands/

    In 2007 Stephen Harper created a think tank for ‘smart energy research ‘ and funded for $15 million.
    In 2008 an individual with a checkered past, was appointed to look after it.
    He then alters the school’s mandate to permit government lobbying and policy development on the oil sands.
    He then lobbies for more federal money, $25 million, and gets it.

    (The house of cards falls when he’s caught lobbying for girlfriend’s company.)

  58. Joshua says:

    Oily –

    Wow, that’s some story. And the pictures of Harper and Collins accompanying the article beggar belief – it’s almost as if they were posed by a photographer asking them to play the part.

    But yeah – that’s exactly why the issue of accountability comes into play. It seems hard, to me, to judge Lomborg’s situation without knowing the set up for accountability. What are the projects goals and targets? How will they be measured? Otherwise, there’s nothing to say that this isn’t just flat out political patronage/cronyism.

  59. Joshua says:

    And the issue w/r/t patronage/cronyism has absolutely nothing to do with the particulars of Lomborg’s advocacy

  60. John Hartz says:

    For details about the financing of the Coppenhagen Consensus Center, see;

    Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center – Real Charity Or “Foreign Conduit”? by John Mashey, DeSmog Blog, April 24, 2015

  61. John Mashey says:

    “Of course, I suspect that a response might be that Lomborg is bringing his centre to the UWA, but it still seems quite unusual.”

    Hmm, how exactly would he “bring his centre” there? 🙂 See
    Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center – Real Charity Or “Foreign Conduit”?

  62. BBD says:

    Thanks for the insight, John M.

    To paraphrase from the Babylonian proverb, the gods do not deduct from man’s alloted span the hours spent in due diligence.

  63. anoilman says:

    What are charity regulations like in Australia? Are they slack or strict? Slack would suit Bjorn’s needs.

  64. John Mashey says:

    I know a fair amount about US, but not AU charity laws … but in AU, he seems to be a government-funded effort, so doesn’t need to be a charity.

    Also, remember, in the US:
    a) Private foundations can *only* give to 501(c)(3) or well-documented foreign equivalents
    b) But individuals can give money to anybody to non-charities, just can’t get any tax breaks.

    SO, in AU, for example, if big coal companies want to fund Lomborg, no problem.

    I have long speculated that the only reason some of these things are 501(c)(3) is to get those key donations from private foundations, often used as early seed funding.
    Of course, I’d love to know where the rest of CCC’s money comes from, but one can’t get that.

  65. John Hartz says:

    Lomberg’s mantra: Have Instittue, Will travel.

  66. the point, Willard, is the wisdom of Wotts commenting, from behind the veil of pseudo-anonymity, on an appointment in an agnate discipline

  67. Richard,

    the point, Willard, is the wisdom of Wotts commenting, from behind the veil of pseudo-anonymity, on an appointment in an agnate discipline

    I know, it’s terrible. I should really just keep quiet and let people like yourself express your views free from the criticism of people like myself. Free speech is all fine and good, but not when it’s from some irritating person with whom you disagree. Also, as Willard is trying to point out, the only reason we’re actually discussing Lomborg’s appointment is because you brought it up. My post doesn’t really comment on it at all. All I was trying to point out is that his arguments seem rather simplistic. Of course, some of yours are real belters. If I remember correctly (and feel free to correct me if my memory is wrong) one argument you’ve made is that we should focus on adaptation because people are able to live in the Arctic?

  68. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    Back in the days when Lomborg was an academic proper, he studied tit-for-tat strategies.

  69. he studied tit-for-tat strategies.

    So? Have you given this any more thought. A hint – just in case you can’t get it – you seem to be complaining about me expressing a view with regards to Lomborg’s appointment while failing to recognise that the only reason I did so was because I responded to a comment of yours.

  70. jsam says:

    [Mod : although amusing, on the off chance that Richard is genuinely interested in less tit-for-tat, I will moderate this.]

  71. Joshua says:

    Here’s an idea:

    Why don’t you put up a poll question to evaluate “public opinion” on the issue? That will convince Richard as to who is right and who is wrong about Lomborg’s appointment.

    Richard Tol (@RichardTol) | February 10, 2015 at 1:51 am |

    […]

    A more important question is perhaps why the public lost so much faith in climate science that they prefer to believe Booker over you guys. The Telegraph poll suggests that 90% of 110,000 readers are with Booker.

    I would hypothesize that the constant stream of climate nonsense — it’s five for twelve, kids will not know what snow is, we’re all gonna die, last chance to save the planet, climate change is coming to blow over your house and eat your dog — has made people rather suspicious of anything climate “scientists” say.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/02/09/berkeley-earth-raw-versus-adjusted-temperature-data/#more-17768

    Even better, Richard could use that poll to generate a “hypothesis” as to the causal mechanism behind public opinion. Why bother use any of the studies of that issue to formulate hypotheses? Just go with an online poll.

  72. MikeH says:

    For the record, Richard Tol was part of Lomborg’s 2008 “consensus” project along with Gary Yohe, Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University. This is the one that led Yohe to complain that “that Lomborg is misrepresenting our findings”

    Lomborg claims that our “bottom line is that benefits from global warming right now outweigh the costs” and that “[g]lobal warming will continue to be a net benefit until about 2070.” This is a deliberate distortion of our conclusions.

    …our analysis concluded – and Lomborg ignores – that climate change will cause immediate losses for developing countries and the planet’s most vulnerable, millions of whom are already facing challenges that climate change will exacerbate.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/aug/22/climatechange.carbonemissions

    Given Tol’s own recent problems with misrepresenting other people’s work on the costs of climate change, should we be reading more into John Mashey’s quote from the preface to Cool It?

    “I do want to say thank you… to Richard Tol for making many of the economic arguments work better”

  73. John Hartz says:

    Hot off the press…

    University of Western Australia academic Ray Wills has compared the appointment of “sceptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg to head up a new development think tank to putting disgraced former premier Brian Burke in charge of economic policy.

    And at least one academic has publicly called on university vice-chancellor Paul Johnson to reconsider Dr Lomborg’s appointment in a crunch meeting with staff on Friday, according to Academic Staff Association president Raymond da Silva Rosa.

    Adjunct Professor Wills, who has been a spokesman for the university on climate change issues for the past seven years, said there was a lot of disquiet among the university ranks about the centre.

    Academic likens Lomborg appointment to putting Brian Burke in charge of economy by James Massola, Matthew Knott, Sydney Morining Herald, Apr 25, 2015

  74. John Hartz says:

    More from the Sydney Morning Herald article cited above…

    The appointment tarnishes the reputation of the university,” he (Ray Wills) told Fairfax Media.

    “It’s like appointing Brian Burke to look after your economics.

    “The vice-chancellor has actually said it [the centre] will be about economics, not climate change. But the response to climate change we need is about economics, and Lomborg is on record saying we don’t need action on climate change.”

  75. Eli Rabett says:

    Sadly, Eli suspect that Richard is out of the poll business for a while at least. However, since Australia has FOIA laws, it is not unlikely that requests for the documents establishing this new centre have been already filed. Further, if Lomborg is moving his whole operation to Australia there are immigration issues to be dealt with.

    Popcorn please

  76. anoilman says:

    Richard S.J. Tol says:
    April 27, 2015 at 9:24 am

    “@Wotts
    Back in the days when Lomborg was an academic proper, he studied tit-for-tat strategies.”

    No Richard Tol, Lomborg studied political science. Specifically how to game people’s views.

    That sounds more like think tank work in the real world, and frankly, Lomborg is clearly an expert in the field of gaming people’s views.

  77. anoilman says:

    The real question is why the Australian government needs to pay Lomborg to receive PR advice from Koch industries and the like. Take a look at the organizations that fund Lomborg. In Canada we have the Fraser Institute which was founded to fight union wages. The Frazer Institute also runs its own “League of Anti Science”(tm) to confuse the public about Global Warming.
    http://www.pressprogress.ca/en/post/red-alert-guy-fraser-institute-pretty-sure-he-just-debunked-climate-change-science

    Hey! If we had a “League of Anti Science”(tm), who would be on the team?

  78. Willard says:

    > the point, Willard, is the wisdom of Wotts commenting, from behind the veil of pseudo-anonymity, on an appointment in an agnate discipline

    Ze point, yet again. I don’t know how the fact that you are an econometrician gives you seniority, or for that matter, the expertise to be invited to proclaim what’s ze point, dear Richard. As a ninja, I can assure you that AT’s point is not what you pretend is ze point:

    However, ignoring that Lomborg appears to have a rather tenuous grasp on the basics of climate science, my main issue with what he says is its simplicity.

    Is it the same reason why you claim that the Lomborg Collective Consensus’ something is not “suitable for climate policy”? If that’s the case, you simply found a way to be in violent agreement with AT, Richard. In any case, you both seem to agree on something.

    This may be important to develop, at least for diplomacy’s sake.

    ***

    Also note, dear Richard, that previously you were talking about AT being invited to proclaim, whence it’s quite clear that he does not need any invitation to comment on his own blog. Speaking of invitations, I don’t think Andy was invited to proclaim anything regarding some of the issues in your Gremlin paper:

    I make no claim that the issues I raise are new. I just think they’re important. And I continue to think that your remark that outliers provide evidence of nonlinearity (rather than, as we would usually think in such a situation, evidence that the outlying data points are different from the others in some important ways) indicates a lack of understanding of the relevant statistical issues. See, for example, Keith’s comments here.

    http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167688

    You never found the round Tuit to respond to Keith’s comments, it seems.

    Yet you were invited to do so.

    What’s up with that, Richard?

  79. John Mashey says:

    Inquiring minds would love to know:
    In 2012, Lomborg as President CCC USA, paid himself $775K, and in 2013 $200K.
    Around December 2012 he moved to Prague.

    People might investigate income tax rates, and wonder if income taxes were paid and if so, where…

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2015/04/26/copenhagen-consensus-center-real-charity-foreign-conduit

  80. Eric Steig says:

    Your analogies fails a bit. Unlike Lomborg’s ideas, the Monty Python / dinosaur theory turns out to be correct.

  81. anoilman says:

    Eric Steig: The presentation is about the same though.

  82. victorpetri says:

    Here are a couple of ideas: What if mr. Lomborg is actually attempting to give an honest prioritization of where he can do the most good with money? Wouldn’t this be a very sensible approach? Would he need to understand climate science to do this (and if yes, does he need to understand medics, nutrition, sanitation, watermanagement and all that on an advanced level as well), or is his background the most suitable for this exercise?
    And finally, how likely is it, when one’s hobbyhorse is not high on the priority list, he would be vilified for not putting it high enough?

  83. vp,

    What if mr. Lomborg is actually attempting to give an honest prioritization of where he can do the most good with money?

    That doesn’t mean he can say things without being criticised by those who disagree.

    Would he need to understand climate science to do this (and if yes, does he need to understand medics, nutrition, sanitation, watermanagement and all that on an advanced level as well), or is his background the most suitable for this exercise?

    Well, he doesn’t need to understand it but if he motivates his ideas by making claims about climate science that are wrong, then it’s a poor motivation. Similarly if he based his ideas on a poor understanding of medicine, sanitation,….. He should be basing his views on credible evidence. He doesn’t need to understand it, but should at least talk to the experts, be they climate scientists, doctors, sanitation experts,…..

    And finally, how likely is it, when one’s hobbyhorse is not high on the priority list, he would be vilified for not putting it high enough?

    Or vice versa. Let’s not do the whole you disagree with him because ……

  84. victorpetri says:

    For me, Lomborg gets the benefit of doubt. I do think he is honestly attempting to prioritize, which is of course an incredibly difficult exercise. And I do think, his way of thinking is important. He does basically use IPCC’s findings as input (although I understand he has made picks of its findings, which are questioned by climate scientists).

    Now for your main issue with Lomborg, so-called simplicity, I don’t see it that way, by looking at all problems and prioritizing, you are overcoming simplicity.

    e.g. with malaria, which might become more of a risk due to global warming, but which is a disease of poverty and is probably not optimally tackled by combatting global warming, but perhaps by increasing income (or grrrrrowth as some may say) (which itself is negatively correlated to combatting global warming).

  85. vp,

    For me, Lomborg gets the benefit of doubt.

    Fine.

    He does basically use IPCC’s findings as input

    No, I don’t think he does. I think he claims to do so, while not really doing so. If someone has to tell you something like “I agree climate change is a risk” then it’s quite likely that what they actually say doesn’t make this clear.

    with malaria, which might become more of a risk due to global warming, but which is a disease of poverty and is probably not optimally tackled by combatting global warming, but perhaps by increasing income

    Well, that already seems more complex than the manner in which Lomborg presents thing. As far as I can tell, a lot of these issues are inter-related and will likely be influenced by climate change. Trying to suggest that there is one easy fix seems overly simplistic and ignores many potentially important factors. Furthermore, I don’t think the alternative to Lomborg is “tackle global warming and nothing else” which is kind of what is suggested by those who defend Lomborg.

  86. Rachel M says:

    I do think he is honestly attempting to prioritize, which is of course an incredibly difficult exercise

    I don’t think so. Lomborg is just trying to find an excuse to do nothing about climate change. He’s using the same argument that others use when they say things like, “Why should I donate to Oxfam (or some other overseas charity) when there are children living in poverty in my own neighbourhood? Let’s eliminate poverty in our own country first and then tackle poverty overseas”. The reality is that both things need support. We may never completely eliminate poverty in our own neighbourhood or not for many years and this is not a reason to ignore that people elsewhere also need help. There are many people fighting to alleviate poverty in the third world and Lomborg (as far as I’m aware) is not one of them. There’s a great organisation – The Life You Can Save – which is based on the idea of effective altruism where people in rich countries donate a portion of their wealth to people living in poverty. These are the sorts of things Lomborg could be championing but instead he focusses on climate change -> do nothing which makes me think he doesn’t genuinely care about poverty at all. He just doesn’t want to do anything about climate change.

  87. John Hartz says:

    Rachel: Well said!

  88. Willard says:

    With $4 million, one could either fund the Lomborg Collective Consensus Climate Schtick, or help these guys:

    Over half a million Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in Australia. Despite their pre-eminence as our continent’s first inhabitants – or ‘first Australians’ – too many of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live with ongoing and extensive injustices and poverty. Caritas Australia is working in partnership with our First Australians to support self-determination and foster Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led solutions.

    http://www.caritas.org.au/learn/countries/australia

    What should we do?

  89. Willard says:

    The $4 million could also protect CEOs from braving the chill of an Australian winter night.

    More than 680 business leaders from across Australia braved the chill of a winter night on Thursday to participate in the first national Vinnies CEO sleepout.

    The initiative, which was held in all the capital cities except Hobart, raised in excess of $2 million for homelessness.

    http://www.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/ceos-brave-cold-to-help-homeless-20100617-yjx7.html

    As a Canadian, the thought of an Australian winter night is just too much.

    Please donate.

  90. Willard says:

    With $4 million, the Australian government could buy between 5 and 15 MRI scan machines:

    http://info.blockimaging.com/bid/92623/MRI-Machine-Cost-and-Price-Guide

    TL;DR — Lomborg dilemmas are a double edge sword.

  91. John Mashey says:

    Rachel: have you looked at Lomborg and Playing the Long Game yet? He runs a very clever false multichotomy scheme.
    CCC also spent US$ 853K to promote his movie Cool It! which grossed $62K in the US.
    overpowering evidence he has broken/evaded US tax laws for years, as seen in public records.
    I

  92. victorpetri says:

    @Rachel,

    So can I infer you to be in principle against such a prioritizing exercise?

  93. Willard says:

    Here would a place where the Lomborg Collective Consensus Center could be relocated to do field studies:

    Two weeks ago, reports emerged that the Utopia Homelands, a Northern Territory Indigenous community put in the spotlight by John Pilger’s recent film, was suffering acute water shortages after a bore at Amengernternenh collapsed during council maintenance works. The Urapuntja health service and several communities have had little to no access to water and sanitation for 10 whole weeks. Fifty kids have no drinking water at their school.

    To make matters worse, a massive outbreak of scabies has resulted from the water shortage: the health service has no water to wash bedclothes or flush toilets. Scabies, when left untreated, can potentially lead to kidney disease. Both scabies and chronic kidney disease are experienced at inflated rates in Indigenous communities.

    How things change: prior to the Northern Territory Intervention, studies revealed the Utopia homelands to be one of the healthiest Indigenous communities in the NT, with a lower prevalence of several chronic illnesses.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/15/ten-weeks-dry-water-is-still-a-privilege-not-a-right-in-indigenous-australia

    More on the Northern Territory Intervention:

    The Northern Territory National Emergency Response (also referred to as “the intervention”) was a package of changes to welfare provision, law enforcement, land tenure and other measures, introduced by the Australian federal government under John Howard in 2007 to address allegations of rampant child sexual abuse and neglect in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. The rates of abuse were false and founded on fraudulent information given by the branch manager for Mal Brough’s Office.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Territory_National_Emergency_Response

    With his $4 million, Bjorn will no doubt lend a hand.

  94. Willard says:

    So can I infer you to be in principle against prioritizing more prioritary priorities than the Lomborg Consensus Center, vp?

  95. Andrew Dodds says:

    @vp

    A prioritizing exercise is fine. But generally, you start by saying ‘We are going to commit X billion to fixing problems, what’s the best way to use it?’ That’s fine.

    But what is going on here is a shell game. See:

    Copenhagen consensus outcome

    The top few items on the list are fairly worthy and cheap, so you could claim to be doing something. But comparing vitamin pills for kids with global warming? That’s a comparison that will depend entirely on the assumptions and estimates going in. After all, with sufficient discounting, a 10-mile asteroid impact in 2070 is not actionable today.

  96. Willard says:

    An old review:

    Some critics accuse Lomborg of posing a false choice through his implicit assumption that expenditures on human and environmental well-being will remain constant, and several recent developments support that objection. Well-targeted new expenditures from private foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett) and international foundations that
    integrate small-scale local resources (e.g., the Clinton Global Initiative) have now joined the effort

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/2008Q2/111/Readings/Ruddiman2008_Lomborg_review.pdf

    And that’s coming from William Ruddiman, a guy who welcomes Bjorn’s thoughts provocations.

  97. Marco says:

    If I remember and understand this correctly, models like FUND scale economic impact of climate change by the intrinsic economic value of those affected.

    If indeed correct, any actions that improve the lifes of people in poor regions of the world, and thus likely also imrpove their intrinsic economic value, may make the economic impact of climate change worse.

  98. anoilman says:

    victor “I am incapable of speaking out against oil” petri says:
    April 28, 2015 at 8:59 am

    “For me, Lomborg gets the benefit of doubt. I do think he is honestly attempting to prioritize, which is of course an incredibly difficult exercise.”

    I know its not in your interests since you work in oil and are incapable of speaking out against it, but I would think an expert would be a good choice. Lomborg isn’t an expert in anything but voter manipulation. That is what he has a PHd in.

    The first time he tried his Copenhagen Consensus he didn’t even bother to ask anyone who knew about global warming or even what it might cost to show up. Then he invented results! Bjorn claimed a paper written by an expert had claimed the exact opposite. Care to explain why you’d give him the benefit of the doubt?

    The UK Royal Society has a great break down on his well documented bullshit and antics;
    https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2005/9663.pdf

    Why not give Bernie Madoff, or even Charles Ponzi the benefit of the doubt?

  99. @Wotts
    Lomborg by and large agrees with the IPCC. He even buys into the Barker-Edenhofer (WG3 AR4) nonsense about the role of gov’t in innovation.

  100. Richard,
    Seriously, telling me that he by and large agrees with the IPCC isn’t really a good way of convincing me. One way to do so would be for Lomborg to start saying things that makes him appear as though he actually does. That way, people wouldn’t continually have to point out that he does. To be fair, anyone who can post this potentially understands the basics so badly that they may actually believe that they – by and large – agree with the IPCC.

  101. John Hartz says:

    No matter how much they huff and puff about doing nothing, Lomborg and his cronies cannot hold a candle to Pope Francis and other religious leaders of the world about the moral imperative to tackle manmade climate change now rather than later. (Thank God)…

    Pope Francis summoned scientists, government officials and religious leaders to a villa in the manicured Vatican Gardens on Tuesday as he stepped into the heated climate-change debate.

    “Climate change is a defining issue of our time,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told attendees at the Vatican conference. “It is a moral issue, it is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics.”

    The conference, which is being held under the auspices of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, precedes a papal encyclical scheduled for publication in June. The encyclical, a letter to the world’s bishops but with broader resonance because of the pope’s moral and political authority, will aim to influence a UN summit in Paris at the end of the year, at which nations may pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Pope Summons Scientists to Shape Climate Change Debate by John Follain, Bloomberg Business News, Apr 27, 2015

  102. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: In the first sentence of my prior post, please change “latter” to “later”. Thanks.

  103. Eli Rabett says:

    Lomborg’s game was sussed out by Stephen Gardiner “even hard nosed benefit cost analysts” agree that the claim that future people could be compensated by an alternative policy loses relevance if we know that the compensation will not actually be paid.”

  104. anoilman says:

    John,

    Wow, the Pope was a chemist before going to the church. That makes him better educated than the bulk of the denial tribe. It even leaves Bjorn Lomborg in the dust.

  105. Pingback: Matt Ridley on fossil fuels! | …and Then There's Physics

  106. victorpetri says:

    @anoilman
    Although I am kept at different standards than you guys, I do want to share the following hint I got from ATTP:
    “Let’s not do the whole you disagree with him because ……”

    Is this the reaction of someone who is entrenched?:
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/aug/30/bjorn-lomborg-climate-change-u-turn
    Once compared to Hitler by Pachauri, what a disgrace.

    @Marco,
    The economic impact might be bigger, however, the far more important thing, human well being would be much improved, with much fewer loss of life. e.g. just as extreme weather events continue to kill fewer people, although insurer’s costs have gone up.

    @JH,
    I believe the pope also endorses God, however, that did not persuade me to become religious.

  107. verytallguy says:

    VP

    Although I am kept at different standards than you guys…

    Ooh, you poor victimized poppet! Have a virtual hug!

    I hereby promise faithfully to attempt to drag my standards up from the gutter of consensus towards the sunny uplands of your “scepticism”.

  108. verytallguy says:

    According to Wiki, Lomborg’s group came up with the following prioritisation for investment.

    1. Bundled micronutrient interventions to fight hunger and improve education
    2. Expanding the Subsidy for Malaria Combination Treatment
    3. Expanded Childhood Immunization Coverage
    4. Deworming of Schoolchildren, to improve educational and health outcomes
    5. Expanding Tuberculosis Treatment
    6. R&D to Increase Yield Enhancements, to decrease hunger, fight biodiversity destruction, and lessen the effects of climate change
    7. Investing in Effective Early Warning Systems to protect populations against natural disaster
    8. Strengthening Surgical Capacity
    9. Hepatitis B Immunization
    10. Using Low‐Cost Drugs in the case of Acute Heart Attacks in poorer nations (these are already available in developed countries)
    11. Salt Reduction Campaign to reduce chronic disease
    12. Geo‐Engineering R&D into the feasibility of solar radiation management
    13. Conditional Cash Transfers for School Attendance
    14. Accelerated HIV Vaccine R&D
    15. Extended Field Trial of Information Campaigns on the Benefits From Schooling
    16. Borehole and Public Hand Pump Intervention

    Given the iron law of prioritisation, what I don’t understand is why Lomborg isn’t vigorously attacking anyone tackling anyone investing in TB treatment. After all, there are four more important things. Surely we should be focussing on those?

    [Plus, overall, WTF! This reads like the output of a sixth form common room on a wet Wednesday. Geo-engineering! Conditional cash transfers! Pets to cure loneliness!]

  109. [Plus, overall, WTF! This reads like the output of a sixth form common room on a wet Wednesday. Geo-engineering! Conditional cash transfers! Pets to cure loneliness!]

    Yes, it does come across a bit like the “write an essay on….” type of exercise that schoolchildren do. As someone else pointed out, if one had money to actually spend, then this might be a useful starting point. As a mechanism for driving forward real policy, it just seems overly simplistic. What I find interesting is how people who will argue that other people’s ideas are naive because of reality or political pragmatism, then ignore this when someone promotes something that they happen to like.

  110. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    Your first attempt to improve your standards fails hopelessly in a regretful sarcastic snarl. And, I am not a sceptic.
    “Given the iron law of prioritisation, what I don’t understand is why Lomborg isn’t vigorously attacking anyone tackling anyone investing in TB treatment. After all, there are four more important things. Surely we should be focussing on those?”
    Probably because the people focussing on TB know that Lomborg’s prioritization doesn’t mean they do not get any funding, they are less vocal and they are less bent on influencing global policy changes focussed to prioritize their hobbyhorse as the “defining issue of our time”.

  111. verytallguy says:

    VP,

    Your first attempt to improve your standards fails hopelessly in a regretful sarcastic snarl.

    You say snarl, I say schmile.

    I promise to continue to attempt to match your peerless standards. Such as your clear condemnation of Ridley comparing the green movement to the Taliban.

  112. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    on the substance, the very existence of a list (however misguided the list appears to be) of priorities, clearly shows that it’s possible to do more than one thing at once.

    And Lomborg’s whole schtick is basically that we can’t possibly do that.

    Which conveniently ignores the fact that climate change has the potential to wipe out progress in many if not all of the areas on the list. Let’s have a go at that, key risks taken from AR5 WG2 SPM.2 Table 1:

    1. Bundled micronutrient interventions to fight hunger and improve education
    Key risk: reduced crop productivity. Oops
    2. Expanding the Subsidy for Malaria Combination Treatment
    Key risk: changes in the incidence and geographic range of vector and water borne diseases. Oops.
    3. Expanded Childhood Immunization Coverage
    Key risk: changes in the incidence and geographic range of vector and water borne diseases. Oops.
    4. Deworming of Schoolchildren, to improve educational and health outcomes
    Key risk: changes in the incidence and geographic range of vector and water borne diseases. Oops.
    5. Expanding Tuberculosis Treatment
    At last – one that climate change doesn’t directly impact!
    6. R&D to Increase Yield Enhancements, to decrease hunger, fight biodiversity destruction, and lessen the effects of climate change
    Key risk: reduced crop productivity. Oops
    7. Investing in Effective Early Warning Systems to protect populations against natural disaster
    Key risk: flood impacts on food system infrastructure. Oops
    8. Strengthening Surgical Capacity
    Aha – another one not directly impacted
    9. Hepatitis B Immunization
    and a third. Great!
    10. Using Low‐Cost Drugs in the case of Acute Heart Attacks in poorer nations (these are already available in developed countries)
    Up to four
    11. Salt Reduction Campaign to reduce chronic disease
    Sorry, don’t actually understand this issue. My bad.
    12. Geo‐Engineering R&D into the feasibility of solar radiation management
    Laughable.
    13. Conditional Cash Transfers for School Attendance
    Five
    14. Accelerated HIV Vaccine R&D
    Six
    15. Extended Field Trial of Information Campaigns on the Benefits From Schooling
    Seven
    16. Borehole and Public Hand Pump Intervention
    Key risk: drought stress exacerbated in drought prone regions. Oops.

    So, even if you agree with the prioritisation of these sixteen issues above others, a clear seven are directly impacted, one is a joke and seven aren;y directly impacted. Of course, if you factor in the potential for large scale migration cause by climate change, all are impacted.

    This leaves a pretty obvious conclusion. Without also investing to mitigate climate change, investing in these priorities may be much less effective that it would be otherwise.

  113. vtg,

    Without also investing to mitigate climate change, investing in these priorities may be much less effective that it would be otherwise.

    Yes, I agree. It’s one reason I find the whole rhetoric frustrating, since what you regularly hear is claims that those who criticise Lomborg want to spend money mitigating climate change instead of addressing these others issues. It’s as if people think that when you spend money on one thing, that spending cannot influence anything else. As you point out, there are many who argue that one can address issues related to climate change in a way that would also have a positive impact on these other issues, and may indeed be more effective than simply focusing on these other issues and completely ignoring climate change.

  114. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel M says “Lomborg is just trying to find an excuse to do nothing about climate change.”

    What an interesting way of looking at things. I am reminded of my daughter demanding to know why I won’t buy her something. I suggest to her that she has it backwards; I don’t need a reason to not buy her something, instead I need a reason to buy her something. What did she do to earn this favor?

    In climate science or anything remotely similar; the same: I need a reason to DO something; not a reason to not do something. Absent a reason to do something a computer will just sit there and quite often so will I.

  115. John Mashey says:

    And for fun, read Andrew P. Street’s View from the Street: So, is Copenhagen Consensus Centre just a US postbox?, which stirred some widespread, derisive Tweets., perhaps making some contribution to the general flak.. After many other articles seemed ignored, that one actually got a response (attached there) from Lomborg in 1-2 days, the day before the axe fell.

  116. Eli Rabett says:

    Oh hell, why not

  117. Susan Anderson says:

    Indeed, the news that Lomborg’s gravy was too hot to handle was a bright moment in an otherwise downhill slide is excellent. However, there’s this to offset it:
    http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/gop-war-on-science-gets-worse
    (Kolbert is the author of The Sixth Extinction

    Defunding NASA’s earth-science program takes willed ignorance one giant leap further. It means that not only will climate studies be ignored; some potentially useful data won’t even be collected.
    ….
    The vote on the NASA bill came just a week after the same House committee approved major funding cuts to the National Science Foundation’s geosciences program, as well as cuts to Department of Energy programs that support research into new energy sources. … the committee is “living down to our worst expectations.”
    ….
    Cutting NASA and the N.S.F.’s climate-science budgets isn’t going to alter the basic realities of climate change. No one needs an advanced degree to understand this. Indeed, the idea that ignoring a problem isn’t going to make it go away is one that kids should grasp by the time they’re six or seven. But ignoring a problem does often make it more difficult to solve. And that, you have to assume, in a perverse way, is the goal here. What we don’t know, we can’t act on.

    “It’s hard to believe that in order to serve an ideological agenda, the majority is willing to slash the science that helps us have a better understanding of our home planet,”

  118. Susan Anderson says:

    Kolbert interview with Jon Stewart of the Daily Show is worth a look. I don’t know if this will cross the pond:
    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/guests/elizabeth-kolbert/zj9x9i/elizabeth-kolbert

  119. mark4asp says:

    How about you answer Lomborg’s points about Environmentalism? That, from a cost-benefit analysis point of view much of it is a waste of time, and a big distraction for progressive thinkers.

  120. mark4asp,
    In my view, this pretty much does it.

  121. John Hartz says:

    A new post about Lomborg’s analytic skills , or lack thereof…

    Bjorn Lomborg’s consensus approach is blind to inequality by Graham K Brown, The Conversation AU, May 14, 205

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