Speaking of cranks, all of the recent fuss over Al Gore’s testimony to Congress on the subject of global warming has seen the revival of statistician Bjorn Lomborg. You might remember him as the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, the book that was going to set us all straight on the subject of environmentalism. According to Lomborg, everything is much better than we’ve been led to believe.
I only made it through about half of Lomborg’s book before conking out. I was not really in a position to assess a lot of his claims. There were some crank warning signs, like the conversion story about how he used to be an environmentlaist until he took a sober look at the evidence, and the sweeping commentaries contradicting the conventional wisdom in scientific disciplines different from his own. But these were inconclusive.
I read many of the hostile reviews of the book. Some of them were incisive and compelling, but others were far longer on invective than they were on substance. So I left it as an open question whether or not Lomborg was a crank.
Now we have The Daily Howler to to resolve the question:
But our sense of disturbance only took shape when we returned to our sprawling campus and watched Hannity & Colmes. The program’s first segment dealt with Gore’s congressional sessions; the first guest was none other than “Danish statistician” Bjorn Lomborg, who recently helped the New York Times’ William Broad produce his astoundingly bungled report on Gore and global warming (links below). Yesterday afternoon, Lomborg was the GOP’s “rebuttal” witness in a second session of the House committees. Hours later, he went on Fox. And omigod! He said it again:
LOMBORG (3/21/07): Basically, Al Gore goes out and tells us wildly exaggerated stories about what’s going to happen. Probably the most famous clip is where he tells us, essentially, that sea levels are going to rise about 20 feet, which is a far cry from what the U.N. climate panel is telling us, which is one foot. And it’s important, because one is a problem–the one foot–but 20 feet would be catastrophe.
As he did in the New York Sun last month, Lomborg played a savage game of scientific apples-and-oranges, accusing Gore of “wild exaggeration” in the process. The UN said sea levels might rise one foot–but Gore said twenty feet, Lomborg railed!
Of course, as we’ve noted, Gore was talking about what will happen if the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets break away. By contrast, the UN report was predicting future sea levels if the ice sheets don’t break off. (For the record, the UN report said that sea levels may rise by as much as 23 inches if the ice sheets remain intact.) Lomborg’s presentation is baldly deceptive–a bald-faced scam on the American public. And no, it really doesn’t make sense to think Lomborg doesn’t know this.
So there was Lomborg, committing a crime against your nation’s voters. But our sense of disturbance really took shape in the moments after his latest deception. Although the groaning problem with Lomborg’s claim has been discussed at an array of web sites, Alan Colmes made no attempt to contradict his grossly misleading statement. Ditto Jon Coifman (the Natural Resources Defense Council), who was there to provide fairness-and-balance. (We’ll post their “responses” tomorrow.)
Indeed, Lomborg’s bald deception now rules discussion of this topic. In early February, he presented his utterly bogus claim in the pages of the New York Sun, where it would have done minimal damage. But last week, the New York Times’ William Broad made a fateful decision; he wanted this nonsense in his paper too. So Broad used Lomborg’s apples-for-oranges in his “Science Times” report about Gore. By yesterday, the Dane’s poisoned fruit was being cited all over your struggling nation.
There is quite a bit more beyond this as well. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that Fox News happily parroted the same phony talking points…