Pharyngula

Salon has a refreshingly hostile interview with Bjørn Lomborg, and they also have a strongly negative review of his new book, Cool It. This makes me very happy; I’m not a fan of the “contrarian” label for this guy — he’s just another unqualified denialist, as far as I can see. I hope one of our blogs that discuss climate, like Deltoid or Island of Doubt or the Intersection, picks up on it and adds to the pile-on.

There are multiple mischaracterizations and confused arguments in the interview. Here’s one that jumped out at me:

Left-wingers say it’s a catastrophe and we need to change our entire means of production and society. Right-wingers say we shouldn’t bother with it all. If they were right, those conclusions might follow, but that’s not what the science tell us. The science tells us that global warming is problem but not a catastrophe. On the other hand, it’s not a hoax. I’m trying to make a middle ground for arguing that this is not a problem that will be solved within the next five or 10 years. This is a problem that will take a half or full century, and we need to be sure we have good ways of dealing with it.

How bizarre. The right-wingers say it’s a hoax, all right, but his description of the left-wing (I consider myself one of the little feathers on that wing) is so far off — the left, people like Al Gore, are actually closer to his claimed position: this is a long-term problem, it’s not a catastrophe yet (but it could be), and we’re going to have to spend the next century working on it. Where we differ, I think, is that we’re saying we need to start taking steps now, that we can’t let it just simmer and be ignored, while Lomborg is actually proposing something more favorable to the right wing: let’s just talk, without doing anything.

My impression of Lomborg is that he’s a fraud and front for right-wing ignoramuses scrambling frantically to use “framing” — and using the technique poorly. (Or maybe he’s using it perfectly, but as I’ve seen far too often, framing doesn’t work).

He also has a bad argument about relative spending: he suggests that spending on climate change would reduce spending on other pressing issues, like the fight against malaria. It’s a bad choice. Malaria research is already underfunded — it’s a third-world disease, don’t you know, one that mainly affects those tropical countries, so the wealthy western nations typically don’t prioritize it very highly. We don’t take our big pots of money and allocate it into aliquots appropriate to the world’s needs already, so for an economist to sit there and pretend that climate research is a drain on tropical disease research is comical. Especially since he seems unaware of how one feeds into the other. Hey, if the world warms up, tropical diseases will creep northward into Europe and North America, and then we’ll be fighting the economic effects of both direct effects of climate change and new diseases.

And, as usual, he turns his false dilemma into an argument that we need to sit and talk about what to do, instead of actually doing anything. That’s probably my main gripe with Lomborg: he’s a clueless force for inertia, who’s answer for everything is to do nothing that might cause us to break a sweat. Even his malaria argument is hypocritical, because he isn’t asking for any increase in investment in disease research — it’s nothing but an excuse to argue for doing nothing about climate.

Comments

  1. #1 coturnix
    August 29, 2007

    I wondered why he was invited to scifoo – the only person there I did not try to take a picture of with Prof.Steve Steve.

  2. #2 Reginald Selkirk
    August 29, 2007

    In the Discover excerpt, Lomborg compares the number of heat-related deaths during the 2003 European heat wave with “cold-related” deaths annually. Problem: the specific causes of heat-relate3d deaths is not divulged. Another problem: the cold-related deaths were not people freezing to death, but instead were heart attacks and strokes. Third problem: increasing air-conditioning to deal with excess heat will add to the effects of global warming by burning more fossil fuels. None of these problems are mentioned by Lomborg. Shame on Discover for giving this space to him without due criticism.

  3. #3 PK
    August 29, 2007

    One of the key quotes from the article: “Don’t do stuff before it’s efficient, but make sure you get faster to the point where it gets efficient.”

    So this guy has no idea how technology works…

  4. #4 factician
    August 29, 2007

    A credulous interview with Bjorn Lomborg was printed several years ago in Seed Magazine, that painted him as a maverick thinker. That interview was why I cancelled my subscription.

  5. #5 Dustin
    August 29, 2007
  6. #6 John Pieret
    August 29, 2007

    … he’s a fraud and front for right-wing ignoramuses scrambling frantically to use “framing” — and using the technique poorly. (Or maybe he’s using it perfectly, but as I’ve seen far too often, framing doesn’t work).

    Or, as in the case of all “framing” or “spin” or “persuasive argument,” it is aimed at a particular target audience and you ain’t in it.

    I suspect it is aimed, as an example, at the guy who is thinking of buying a new car in a year or two and who thinks an additional $5,000 on the price tag for it to be a hybrid or otherwise super high mileage is a pretty good reason to do some more study before making that a standard. Maybe in three years …

    We’ll have to wait and see how well it’s working on those folks.

  7. #7 Blake Stacey
    August 29, 2007

    Classic denialist misinformation from Lomborg, noticed by Deltoid among others.

  8. #8 Dustin
    August 29, 2007

    If you think he’s a fraud then point out where he uses bad data or misrepresents good data.

    Lomborg isn’t wrong in the same way as a run-of-the-mill creationist — he’s to the environmental argument what intelligent design is to science. Rather than flatly denying global warming or our responsibility for it, he’s trying to look thoughtful by taking an ostensibly less fanatical position than the denialists that somehow manages to get exactly the same results as listening to the denialists will get us. He’s worse than wrong, he’s a weasel of the Dembski kind.

    In any case, both the post and some of the comments have offered examples of the flagrant distortion you’re looking for. Myers already talked about the malaria misdirection game, and post #3 makes more of a point than it lets on. How many people die of heat stroke compared to how many die in cold-related deaths is irrelevant to the discussion, and he damn sure knows that. The insinuation is that global warming isn’t a problem until more people start dying of heat stroke than of cold-related deaths, and that’s patently absurd. Global warming isn’t a problem until summer temperatures are consistently three digit and winter temperatures are consistently above freezing? That’s his argument? That’s worse than the “If the world is getting hotter, why was it so cold last week?” argument.

    There’s also the Lomborg Catalog of Errors. It’s heroic in scope.

  9. #9 TTT
    August 29, 2007

    Lomborg also includes the old “they all believed in GLOBAL COOLING thirty years ago” tune in his minstrel show. He has also said that since we’re catching more fish, fisheries must not be in decline. His entire career is the unflushed nugget that mastercrackpot Julian Simon left in the bowl.

  10. #10 other bill
    August 29, 2007

    #14: Would that be the Julian Simon who won his bet with Paul Ehrlich of “Population Bomb” fame? The economist that “denied” that we would starve to death in the ’80s due to overpopulation? Quite the crackpot.

  11. #11 Manni
    August 29, 2007

    Interesting. You see, over here in Europe, what you think about global warming is not automagically linked to what you think about religion, creationism or evolution.

    I suggest you guys handle this in a similar way. You wouldn’t have any reason to get over-excited about a statistician that simply says “Not so fast” then.

  12. #12 Dustin
    August 29, 2007

    He has also said that since we’re catching more fish, fisheries must not be in decline.

    Shorter Lomborg: Over-fishing isn’t a problem because we can still over-fish.

    I’m sure, once we reduce particulate emissions, and we get the temporary increase in temperature that will result from less particulate emission but the same amount of gas emission, Lomborg will be the first in the neener-neener line. That’s what I really hate about him — some denialists are denialists because they’re just plain stupid. Lomborg isn’t stupid, and that makes him a deliberate liar.

  13. #13 NE1
    August 29, 2007

    Please tell me this is not a community that believes Ehrlich had it all right? I’m all for rational and appropriate discounting for Global Warming, but I am not an ascetist freak.

    More on topic, I am open to the calculation that the monetary penalties of GW are less than the opportunity cost of massive intervention, but I haven’t seen many willing to talk numbers. I hope this sort of thing grows. In any case, intervention is the sort of thing that will require ironclad analysis and cooperation on a global scale, first.

  14. #14 Dustin
    August 29, 2007

    I do think that climate change is a bigger issue than he makes it out to be, absolutely, but I like the fact that he wishes to appeal to our sense of reason rather than our sense of passion.

    He does appeal to a sense of reason, doesn’t he? But that’s all he appeals to — a sense of reason. He doesn’t appeal to reason itself. It’s like the addage says:

    If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.

    The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what Lomborg says, or how he supports it. His position is “wait and see”. We know what’s happening, we don’t need to “wait and see”. Waiting because we’re taking a nap on a fence gets the same result as waiting because we’re actively denying that it’s even happening.

  15. #15 k
    August 29, 2007

    “And, as usual, he turns his false dilemma into an argument that we need to sit and talk about what to do, instead of actually doing anything.”

    Yeah, but what DO we do about global warming? Everyone in my generation knew about it since the 70s. I don’t even know anyone who runs the water while brushing their teeth. Yes, most people use the energy saving bulbs, all new appliances have the star rating. Everyone freakin’ recycles. Blah, blah, blah. It hasn’t made any difference yet. Know why? There’s nothing we CAN do, people aren’t causing the problem. Businesses are causing the pollution and it’s been our governments that have allowed it. Even if we got America all locked down and fixed our part of the problem, what about China and Mexico and India…? There is nothing in our everyday lives that we, as individuals, can do. We need scientists invented air travel and space travel that doesn’t pollute. We need mass transit in every city. We need power companies to consider alternatives like wind and solar, THEY can afford the start-up fees that regular people can’t attempt. We need incentive plans for regular people on normal paychecks to add solar panels or wind turbines. Ain’t non of that ever going to happen. It won’t. Everyone needs to stop talking about global warming and start REALLY doing. Adjusting your thermostat, car-pooling, and recycling your coke bottles aren’t even drops in the bucket. DO something serious or STFU.

  16. #16 Dustin
    August 29, 2007

    Even if we got America all locked down and fixed our part of the problem, what about China and Mexico and India…?

    Miss! Miss! Chiner aren’t doing ‘er sums! Miss!

    We need power companies to consider alternatives like wind and solar, THEY can afford the start-up fees that regular people can’t attempt.

    They are. There are refunds, subsidies, and (I can only speak for Colorado) a coordinated and effective program to implement these that’s being run by the utilities company.

    It hasn’t made any difference yet.

    Yes, it has. Suppose every car on the road today had the same emissions and piss-poor mileage they had back in the ’60′s and ’70′s. Suppose everyone who recycles now hadn’t been. That the problem is getting worse is not an indicator, in any way, of the extent to which efforts have helped since it’s due in no small part to an increasing population. And, even if we aren’t addressing the primary causes, that’s no reason to trivialize what’s been done. You sound like the people on a city council who oppose banning cell phone use in cars because cell phones aren’t the leading cause of car wrecks, but maybe the 7th or 8th item on the list. Weak.

  17. #17 Gelf
    August 29, 2007

    I considered reading The Skeptical Environmentalist when the furor arose over that back in 2001, but I let it slip by. From what I do know I disagree with him on a number of points, but I think there’s a kernel of a valid point there that Lomborg doesn’t seem capable of expressing effectively.

    Global warming is a bad thing. We’ve screwed ourselves proper, and it’s going to cost us piles of cash to fix it. This is a given. It is also a given, although an often misunderstood point, that we are not saving the Earth. We are saving our Earth. The one on which humans can live reasonably comfortably. It’s all about us, and if the actions taken to prevent global warming result in more long-term human misery than actually enduring the effects of global warming, then we’ve screwed up.

    At heart, Lomborg seems to be saying that overestimating the impact of any threat is likely to lead to precisely such missteps. Imagine a typical (modern) kid who gets suckered into overwhelming credit card debt in college. Somebody tells him (correctly) that paying off his bills and improving his credit score is of paramount importance. But at some point he needs to evaluate whether to forego food and medical care, or to take a second job in order to accomplish this goal within a certain timeframe, or whether the negative effects of poor credit are bearable enough that he can extend the timeframe. This sort of balancing is obvious when you’re an individual, but turns out to be less so in practice when talking about political actions. However good the science, a solution to a problem as big as global warming is necessarily political in character. This is what economic and policy wonks like Lomborg are for. Someone has to be making these evaluations and offering the practical alternatives. Unpleasant as it may be, someone has to ask questions like, “if saving polar bears means we cannot afford a national healthcare program, a credible military defense or infrastructure repairs, do we really need polar bears?” The answer may be “yes,” but the question must be asked.

    For a similar perspective to which you may be more sympathetic, consider terrorism. There are a few sage individuals out there who point out, quite correctly, that even completely unchecked terrorism would kill far fewer people each year than traffic accidents, fewer even than the flu, and that while a certain focus on preventing attacks is warranted, the incredibly massive spending undertaken by the United States since 9/11 is simply unjustified, particularly when we talk about mounting a military response to terrorism. A more sane response treats possible terrorist acts as a very serious criminal act, but not a sui generis threat. People espousing this position meet a popular reaction similar to Lomborg’s. They are accused of wanting to do nothing to stop terrorist acts, wanting people to get killed and so forth, because people have bought into an overvaluation of an otherwise real threat, and are thus vulnerable to the idea that no amount of money spent (or liberty surrendered) in the name of preventing terrorism is too much. So the overreaction continues apace.

    The difference between these “terrorism skeptics” (for want of a better term) and Lomborg is which side of the argument industry falls on. Industry opposes overhyped fear about global warming because it will cost them money. Industry supports overhyped fear about terrorism because it will make them money. Thus Lomborg is vulnerable to being used by self-serving denialists to support an agenda I don’t get the impression Lomborg himself would.

    And he lets them. This may indicate closet denialism, but I’m more inclined to suspect a lack of savvy to prevent it. Furthermore, he muddles his own arguments in ways that make it sound like he’s talking science when he’s actually talking policy. Calling himself a “skeptic” is a bad way to start here. He may also be a shameless self-promoter. His core point is almost uninteresting in its obviousness, but he has spiced it up with things that sound controversial, which, if that was his intent, makes him little better than those he criticizes. Then there are the things that are just wrong. We shouldn’t erect windmills because somebody will likely someday invent a better windmill? That’s just crazy talk.

    So in summary my opinion of Lomborg is complicated. I’m pretty sure he isn’t a denialist, I don’t think he’s entirely wrong, but I also don’t think he’s especially interesting or useful, and I don’t think his argument is one that is suitable for the court of public opinion at this point. Gore-style presentations, while admittedly a little alarmist and worst-case, are to some extent necessary to actually whip up support for action in the face of well-funded denialism. It’s still necessary to get it into most Americans’ heads that this is a problem at all. The “voice of reason” Lomborg is trying to play will be valuable later, and even then I’m not sure Lomborg will be it.

  18. #18 David Marjanovi?
    August 29, 2007

    Interesting. You see, over here in Europe, what you think about global warming is not automagically linked to what you think about religion, creationism or evolution.

    Interesting typo (my emphasis)! :-)

    You sound like the people on a city council who oppose banning cell phone use in cars because cell phones aren’t the leading cause of car wrecks, but maybe the 7th or 8th item on the list. Weak.

    What, is that within the power of cities in the USA? Not of the states or something? Over here phoning while driving is forbidden nationwide.

  19. #19 David Marjanovi?
    August 29, 2007

    Interesting. You see, over here in Europe, what you think about global warming is not automagically linked to what you think about religion, creationism or evolution.

    Interesting typo (my emphasis)! :-)

    You sound like the people on a city council who oppose banning cell phone use in cars because cell phones aren’t the leading cause of car wrecks, but maybe the 7th or 8th item on the list. Weak.

    What, is that within the power of cities in the USA? Not of the states or something? Over here phoning while driving is forbidden nationwide.

  20. #20 David Marjanovi?
    August 29, 2007

    It is also a given, although an often misunderstood point, that we are not saving the Earth. We are saving our Earth. The one on which humans can live reasonably comfortably. It’s all about us,

    Not only. Remember why the golden toad went extinct? It lived on a mountain in Costa Rica. Then the lowland heat came up, and with it a deadly mold species or three. That’s just the most famous example.

    and if the actions taken to prevent global warming result in more long-term human misery than actually enduring the effects of global warming, then we’ve screwed up.

    You’ll evacuate Bangladesh, then, not me. 150.5 million inhabitants, sez Wikipedia, and almost all of them live less than 12 m above sea level. Sure, said level won’t rise by 12 m anytime soon, but the great flood of 1998 set 2/3 of the country underwater. Now imagine the sea level were just 1 m higher (which alone would flood 10 % of the country), and then imagine a monsoon storm.

  21. #21 David Marjanovi?
    August 29, 2007

    It is also a given, although an often misunderstood point, that we are not saving the Earth. We are saving our Earth. The one on which humans can live reasonably comfortably. It’s all about us,

    Not only. Remember why the golden toad went extinct? It lived on a mountain in Costa Rica. Then the lowland heat came up, and with it a deadly mold species or three. That’s just the most famous example.

    and if the actions taken to prevent global warming result in more long-term human misery than actually enduring the effects of global warming, then we’ve screwed up.

    You’ll evacuate Bangladesh, then, not me. 150.5 million inhabitants, sez Wikipedia, and almost all of them live less than 12 m above sea level. Sure, said level won’t rise by 12 m anytime soon, but the great flood of 1998 set 2/3 of the country underwater. Now imagine the sea level were just 1 m higher (which alone would flood 10 % of the country), and then imagine a monsoon storm.

  22. #22 Steve LaBonne
    August 29, 2007

    Ahh, the spiketroll is back. It’s true, compared to the troll Lomborg is a relatively honest man.

  23. #23 Spike
    August 29, 2007

    When do I get to learn that mindreading technique? You know, the one where you can tell who a person really is from 5-10 posts?

  24. #24 natural cynic
    August 29, 2007

    #18: “Is there something inherently wrong with asking us to look for the most efficient means to solve a problem before actually trying to solve it?”

    Maybe putting this in evolutionary terms will make a case against this notion. What proto-birds really need to do is fly. So forget about using a proto-wing for thermoregulation, then using it for an airfoil, then using it for short glides, and then longer glides. Let’s wait until we have evolved a fullly-formed wing.

  25. #25 Rey Fox
    August 29, 2007

    Spike, I’m getting a pretty clear picture of you from just the four comments on this post. You seem to be…..a whiny brat. Am I close?

  26. #26 Dustin
    August 29, 2007

    “Is there something inherently wrong with asking us to look for the most efficient means to solve a problem before actually trying to solve it?”

    This is exactly why I hate medicine. They go right on ahead and try to treat cancer, even though they don’t have a way of reliably curing it yet. What a bunch of maroons.

  27. #27 Brownian
    August 29, 2007

    As LaBonne proves with his excellently reasoned remark, because Lomborg is not 100% for immediately dismantling the industrial complex, he’s one of them and should be shouted down at every opportunity.

    I believe what you believe: Socialism must triumph. Government solutions are best. Anyone who disagrees with you about global warming is a denier. Nationalized health care or bust. Big corporations are the root of all evil.

    Spike, I’d like to introduce you to a group of my friends: the colours red through indigo. They reside between black and white, and can be very useful when not trying to paint everything into strawman extremes.

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention the numbers 1 through 99. They reside between 0% and 100% and can be used to represent most informed people’s opinions on things.

  28. #28 Rey Fox
    August 29, 2007

    “Spike, I’d like to introduce you to a group of my friends: the colours red through indigo.”

    What about violet? Are you some kind of antipurplist?

  29. #29 Brownian
    August 29, 2007

    Rey, I refuse to ackowledge violet until all the facts are in.

  30. #30 Zeke
    August 29, 2007

    Re: 19

    Want numbers justifying beginning abatement investments in the near term? Try http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/dicemodels.htm or http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_index.cfm . And yes, they disagree about the magnitude of action needed, but both agree on the need for action.

  31. #31 Spike
    August 29, 2007

    Now you’re just picking on me ’cause I’m the new guy.

    Maybe I am young, but I want to be just like LaBonne when I grow up. Can I call somebody a “liberturd” now?

  32. #32 Zeke
    August 29, 2007

    As a quick addendum, http://www.mnp.nl/ipcc/pages_media/AR4-chapters.html is worth the read as well. I’d suggest the summary for policymakers and chapters 11-13.

  33. #33 Brownian
    August 29, 2007

    Indeed; I personally believe that violet is a hoax devised by indigo to put a scare in the other colors and get more attention for its end of the spectrum.

    Exactly; and acknowledging purple will divert needed resources from orange and yellow. Also, it will have zero impact on the problems associated with infrared.

  34. #34 Brownian
    August 29, 2007

    Now you’re just picking on me ’cause I’m the new guy.

    You’ll speak when I tell you to, freshman!

  35. #35 Jayson B
    August 29, 2007

    That evolution analogy was grotesque at best. Evolution is directionless. Evolution didn’t say “we need to make wings to fly,” because that wasn’t the goal.

    The medical analogies are poor as well, because we know the causes of global warming, and if the solution was as simple as our knowledge of getting a heart beating again, then it would be done now.

    A better medical analogy is of a small growth that is found. do we biopsy and to find out the best course of action, or do we send the person immediately into chemotherapy and ultra expensive treatments, because it doesn’t matter how much we spend, even if its grossly over a better treatment if we looked, because we saved a life?

    Bjorn has not, and I’ve never seen him say it, state that we should do nothing. Hell, look at the damned wired interview! He gives us a *perfect* example of what he’s trying to say with the windmills. He says that windmills are good, and that his home country is very proud of all of their windmills. however, then made tens of thousands of them. Come to find out, they weren’t very good. And he states, QUITE PLAINLY, that making even a couple of hundred or so would’ve given us the same conclusion with money more wisely spent.

    And as side note, people are so obsessed about renewable energy sources that they desperately want to ignore nuclear power altogether, where if we started builting plants now would make a large impact and be fiscally responsible to boot.

  36. #36 TTT
    August 29, 2007

    #15:Would that be the Julian Simon who won his bet with Paul Ehrlich of “Population Bomb” fame?

    The same Julian Simon who LOST his bet with David South and then refused another bet with Ehrlich years later.

    More importantly, it’s the same Simon who claimed we were not depleting fisheries based on his citatons of unnamed, unpublished articles that now, over 15 years later, are still unnamed and unpublished. And then there was that whole “we have enough food to sustain a human population of eleventy-squajillion” or however the math works out on his infamously kooky made-up projection.

  37. #37 Spike
    August 29, 2007

    Changed my mind. LaBonne can’t argue his way out of paper sack.

    Zeke’s links are actually convincing, on the other hand. His post inspires me to want to grow up to be someone who thinks, can’t get there by imitating LaBonne.

  38. #38 stogoe
    August 29, 2007

    Ah, denialism. Is there anything it can’t do?

    Oh, yeah. Solve the problems at hand, or provide any kind of knowledge or evidence.

  39. #39 Steve LaBonne
    August 29, 2007

    Changed my mind.

    You mean, you decided to acquire one?

  40. #40 Spike
    August 29, 2007

    So witty! Perhaps I should become one of your disciples after all!

  41. #41 Brownian
    August 29, 2007

    So witty! Perhaps I should become one of your disciples after all!

    I don’t think we do the disciple thing here. That’s more of a religious/personality cult thing.

  42. #42 Spike
    August 29, 2007

    Your first act of leadership, oh mighty Steve (can I call you Prof. Steve Steve?), would be to tell me what’s incorrect about Jayson B’s post of August 29, 2007 2:48 PM.

    I know it must be incorrect, because he isn’t calling Lomborg a liar, in fact, he’s even defending him! Where does he go wrong?

  43. #43 stogoe
    August 29, 2007

    tell me what’s incorrect about Jayson B’s post of August 29, 2007 2:48 PM.

    It seems to me that what’s wrong with Jayson B’s post is that Lomborg is a liar and a denialist, or at least, the results from his stance are analogous to those of denialists (wait and do nothing until we drown and/or boil).

  44. #44 Steve LaBonne
    August 29, 2007

    And we have two links in comments above to documentation of Lomborg’s, shall we say, disingenuous use of his sources.

  45. #45 MikeJ
    August 29, 2007

    Isn’t it obvious that with no regulation and no incentives, they will invent our way out of the problem and we’ll never have to spend a dime! Don’t ask me who they are, or how or why they would do this. If you don’t believe that they will magically appear and fix everything for us you’re a fanatic!

  46. #46 other bill
    August 29, 2007

    #51: Yes, that Julian Simon. When he was wrong (with South), he admitted it and paid up early, hardly a crackpot.

    He did pass on the second bet, and explained why. He was forecasting what he thought of as direct measures of human welfare, while Ehrlich was offering a bet on indirect measures (the size of the fishery rather than the yield per person or demand.)

    I didn’t track the details on his fisheries forecast and have no comment on the latter part of your post.

  47. #47 Steve LaBonne
    August 29, 2007

    Spike, where did I attack Jayson? If you want to be pedantic about it, I AGREED with him that there’s nothing outlandish about Lomborg. (Unfortunately, that’s not to Lomborg’s credit as Jayson appears to think.) For the rest, see stogoe @ #58.

    Jayson’s point seems superficially reasonable, but the problem is that he is relying on Lomborg’s misinformation for his definition of “making sure that the solution we are applying actually solves the problem hold water”.

  48. #48 Mark UK
    August 29, 2007

    Lomborg is either intellectually dishonest or stupid. His book is full of errors and these have been pointed out in numerous reviews.

    He is unbelievably dishonest with his Copenhagen consensus which is his little spiel about the other problems we should focus on. He always forgets to mention the fact that the starting point is “you have 5 years and $50bn” to sort the problems.

    You wouldn’t put global warming on top of that list. You can’t solve it in 5 years and $50bn. So you would do other things with the money. We are not restricted to his stupid little starting premise.

    The other thing that some of the GW deniers have been doing is trying to pretend to be the middle ground. A tactic borrowed from the ID crowd. “Oh, there’s people on the far left and the deniers… I’m the voice of reason, etc, etc.”

  49. #49 CG
    August 29, 2007

    I have to come down on the side of Jayson and Spike here. I read the interview, it was the first time I remember hearing of Lomberg, so I came to this fresh. The interview shows me a man who appears to be thoughtful, trying to figure out which giant world problems we should address. Seems reasonable to me. That doesn’t mean that Lomberg is a creep, nor does it mean he’s a great intellect. Maybe his books are another story.

    Does anyone know of any great resources projecting the impact of certain actions in reducing emissions on global temperatures? I’d like to see something that quantifies the effect of reducing the human impact on warming. How much warming is already inevitable? What happens if all countries magically start following the kyoto protocol and return emissions to 1990 standards?

    As far as I recall from my college courses we’re in an interglacial period right now – an historically cool period in the earth’s history. I think that it’s in our interest to reduce human impact on climate as much as we can, but I also think that the questions that Lomberg raises are interesting.

    I think that we human beings have a sense of the world as a timeless place that doesn’t change. Our system of thinking and infrastructure isn’t set up to deal with natural, unstoppable processes like the changing course of the Mississippi River or forest fires. How are we going to deal with something like a massive sea level rise? So when the sea level rises like it’s already primed to do, what are we going to do about the people in Bangladesh and other areas around the world? It seems reasonable to think that it will take people who think like Lomberg to solve those problems. Economists and policy makers are going to be the people who decide what gets implemented. If plans are to be made soon (and hopefully they will be) he will probably be in on the conversation, and that doesn’t seem all bad to me.

  50. #50 stogoe
    August 29, 2007

    People are already having those discussions and making those decisions, and Lomborg is on the outside, screaming to anyone who will listen that whatever we decide to do, we should do LESS of it. Just because.

  51. #51 Jim Lippard
    August 29, 2007

    Lomborg’s point about spending priorities is to make a point about opportunity costs. The budget available for spending on addressing the world’s crises is finite, and each dollar spent on global warming issues is a dollar not spent on other issues. He was part of a group that put together a set of proposals for the major issues which could provide the most bang for the buck, which included spending on treatment and prevention of malaria in the developing world (e.g., as is currently being done by the organization PATH, which got a big grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). See Lomborg’s talk at TED.

  52. #52 Stuart Weinstein
    August 29, 2007

    jayson writes “Actually………….in many respects, i agree with Bjorn, and to be honest it suprises me when people attack and dismiss him outright in the same way that people on the right dismiss the middle as ‘too left’. People are so fanatical about enviromentalism that anyone who isn’t as alarmist as they are *must* be bad.”

    My problem with Lomborg is that he shares a characteristic quite common among cranks, contrarians, kooks, gadflys what have you.

    His cherry picking of the scientific literature. His books reek from that practice. In the Salon interview, Lomborg was confronted with his cherry picking of a scientific paper on the problems faced by Polar Bears. Lomborg quoted a passage from that paper out of context in a manner inconsistent with that paper’s conclusions. That
    is simple dishonesty.

    Now if Lomborg says he disagrees with the conclusions of said paper, thats his right. What was hilarious however, were his reasons which
    consisted of two things:

    1. Polar Bears will devolve to land bears. Indeed, why their shining white fur coats will turn brown overnight. Hell, he might as well be an IDer with crap like that.

    2. He says experts in Greenland say.. blah blah… thats nice. Did those guys publish a peer-reviewed study? Is their data available for scrutiny? Sorry but the dueling scientists crap is for losers who have no rebuttal.

    In short Lomborg is simply another arrogant snot who hasn’t done his homework writing about stuff he does not understand.

    I’d love to debate him in public. But then afterwards I may be accused of child abuse.

    Stuart

  53. #53 David Marjanovi?
    August 29, 2007

    This is certainly a factor to consider. I wasn’t suggesting any particular course of action. However, this is perhaps an example of faulty alarmist thinking in action. Yes, having that many people living that close to the sea is an issue, but even in the most pessimistic projections the sea won’t rise quickly enough that people cannot relocate or otherwise compensate for the change.

    Indeed not. As my mention of the flood of 1998 was intended to make clear, it doesn’t need to.

    Naturally if you project conditions of 200 years hence

    Naaah. It will take far less than 200 years for the sea level to rise 1 m — and at the present sea level, as we saw in 1998, an El Ni˝o-enhanced monsoon puts two thirds of the country underwater.

    and apply them to the present population living exactly where and as they do today,

    Not going to shrink anytime soon. And “where” in Bangladesh doesn’t matter, have a look at a map.

    then you’ve imagined up a horrific catastrophe,

    It’s rather chronic. Imagine having 2/3 of the country underwater every monsoon season and all of the country underwater (except the mountains in Chittagong) in particularly bad years.

    but the changes generally happen year upon year, and people adapt their behavior to those changes at that rate.

    What behavior? Bangladesh can’t afford building thousands of km of dams, and building dams in a river delta that mostly consists of rice fields doesn’t look like an option anyway. All the people there can do is flee. Where to?

    As far as I recall from my college courses we’re in an interglacial period right now – an historically cool period in the earth’s history.

    “Historically” is really stretching it. It’s cooler than it was 3 million years ago, sure…

  54. #54 David Marjanovi?
    August 29, 2007

    This is certainly a factor to consider. I wasn’t suggesting any particular course of action. However, this is perhaps an example of faulty alarmist thinking in action. Yes, having that many people living that close to the sea is an issue, but even in the most pessimistic projections the sea won’t rise quickly enough that people cannot relocate or otherwise compensate for the change.

    Indeed not. As my mention of the flood of 1998 was intended to make clear, it doesn’t need to.

    Naturally if you project conditions of 200 years hence

    Naaah. It will take far less than 200 years for the sea level to rise 1 m — and at the present sea level, as we saw in 1998, an El Ni˝o-enhanced monsoon puts two thirds of the country underwater.

    and apply them to the present population living exactly where and as they do today,

    Not going to shrink anytime soon. And “where” in Bangladesh doesn’t matter, have a look at a map.

    then you’ve imagined up a horrific catastrophe,

    It’s rather chronic. Imagine having 2/3 of the country underwater every monsoon season and all of the country underwater (except the mountains in Chittagong) in particularly bad years.

    but the changes generally happen year upon year, and people adapt their behavior to those changes at that rate.

    What behavior? Bangladesh can’t afford building thousands of km of dams, and building dams in a river delta that mostly consists of rice fields doesn’t look like an option anyway. All the people there can do is flee. Where to?

    As far as I recall from my college courses we’re in an interglacial period right now – an historically cool period in the earth’s history.

    “Historically” is really stretching it. It’s cooler than it was 3 million years ago, sure…

  55. #55 factician
    August 29, 2007

    Chris,

    Put “economics of global warming” into Google Scholar. You’ll get roughly 21,000 hits. The first 10 look interesting.

    Only 21,000 papers published about this. But I suppose Lomborg was too busy to read a single one of them.

    D,

    A number of people here have called Lomberg a crackpot / liar.

    I hope that I’ve amply demonstrated his disingenuousness. He simply pretends he’s in the middle ground, when he’s just making shit up. It’s easy to be in the middle ground when you define the outer ends of the spectrum.

  56. #56 Robert
    August 29, 2007

    As for my opinions on what is causing global warming, yes I do think that fossil fuel burning is one of its causes (CO2 is a greenhouse gas), but I’m not sure if it’s the primary cause or just one of the major causes. The reason for that of course is the amount of political money that is involved with current climate science. That makes it more difficult to determine which information source is the most true source. Perhaps when it is no longer a political issue, we glean more accurate info on how climate in a planet’s atmosphere behaves.

    However, lets assume that fossil fuel CO2 is the primary cause of global warming. Solutions that are mutually beneficial to many people would make sense. Coming up with solutions where people can profit from them would make sense. Examples? For government incentives, one could divert money from subsidies on oil companies and fruitless earmarks towards X-Prize-type push prizes for people who successfully develop better fission reactors, more cost efficient solar collectors, wave generators, fusion reactors with net positive energy outputs, and other specific goals. Threatening deadly force with carbon taxes and restrictions on a global scale won’t work because there isn’t enough striking power in the world’s military forces and police battalions to enforce them globally 100%. Those armed enforcers won’t do you much good if they can be killed or bribed. Just imagine if China imposes such restrictions on itself in an austere scale (I know, I know, it is highly unlikely), all the businessman have to do is bribe an official to look the other way if that official can profit from that man’s business. Find a solution that allows many to profit.

  57. #57 Stuart Weinstein
    August 29, 2007

    CG writes “As far as I recall from my college courses we’re in an interglacial period right now – an historically cool period in the earth’s history. I think that it’s in our interest to reduce human impact on climate as much as we can, but I also think that the questions that Lomberg raises are interesting.”

    You meant to say “historically warm period” right?

    Sorry Lomborg doesn’t raise interesting questions.

    Muddying the waters for the uninitiated is not interesting.

    Stuart

  58. #58 Stuart Weinstein
    August 29, 2007

    Robert writes:
    “As for my opinions on what is causing global warming, yes I do think that fossil fuel burning is one of its causes (CO2 is a greenhouse gas), but I’m not sure if it’s the primary cause or just one of the major causes. The reason for that of course is the amount of political money that is involved with current climate science. That makes it more difficult to determine which information source is the most true source. Perhaps when it is no longer a political issue, we glean more accurate info on how climate in a planet’s atmosphere behaves.”

    Scientists have been worried about global warming long before it became a political football.

    It became a political issue when certain interests realized that they may have something to lose if global warming gained currency.

    There is plenty of accurate info, not just on the atmosphere but on the oceans as well. Don’t be so gullible.

    Feel free to reference any “inaccurate” info here.

    Stuart

  59. #59 factician
    August 29, 2007

    /cheer Stuart Weinstein!

  60. #60 Mark UK
    August 30, 2007

    “But how do I know if that statement is true or false? How do I know?”

    Looks like you need to learn to distinguish between science, politics and activism.

  61. #61 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    So Graculus and Mark UK do you guys emphasize more on restrictions on the lives of individuals or do you emphasize more on replacing fossil fuels with other technology? The science says that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels and its addition to the carbon cycle can speed up the current warming trend, that is perfectly plausible, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The activists insist on restrictions and the use of force against individuals who don’t comply. Graculus, environmentalist activists were already in action in the 70′s! The scientific literature is already suspect!

  62. #62 Ian Gould
    August 30, 2007

    ‘Right-wingers say we shouldn’t bother with it all.”

    So obviously Arnold Schwartzenegger; John McCain; Michael Bloomberg et al are all lefties now.

  63. #63 MikeB
    August 30, 2007

    ‘So Graculus and Mark UK do you guys emphasize more on restrictions on the lives of individuals or do you emphasize more on replacing fossil fuels with other technology?’

    The usual nonsensical ‘one or the other’ arguement (of which Lomborg is a past master). The technology is and will be driven by the limitations governments place on burning Co2. The market responds to signals, and nothing works as a signal better than telling them to raise efficency or else.

    Telling someone to burn less CO2 is not a manifestation of the ‘nanny state’, its a sensible step to slow something which is having a known and disasterous effect on the planet. Your local government hopefully stops people dumping trash in the street; is that the desire for ‘power and control’?

    Lomborg is an established cherry-picker, so why would you believe him now?

  64. #64 CG
    August 30, 2007

    Stuart,

    It’s a somewhat minor point, but something I think people should recognize. The earth’s temperature record shows a lot of variation, and currently, as compared to an average, it is cool. Check out the link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record

  65. #65 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    The usual nonsensical ‘one or the other’ arguement (of which Lomborg is a past master). The technology is and will be driven by the limitations governments place on burning Co2. The market responds to signals, and nothing works as a signal better than telling them to raise efficency or else.

    Interesting MarkB, so do you prefer peace or war? Because if you keep telling people to do “this thing or else” instead of pursuing replacements for fossil fuels, you’re going to eventually get a retaliation. Government officials can be bribed and they are not invincible. It is better to avoid conflict and pursue workable solutions that benefit everybody.

  66. #66 Owlmirror
    August 30, 2007

    I think the aversion of the Greens to nuclear power is a mistake.

    Um. So do (some of) the Greens.

    http://www.greenspirit.com/logbook.cfm?msid=70

  67. #67 Stuart Weinstein
    August 30, 2007

    CG writes:

    “Stuart,

    It’s a somewhat minor point, but something I think people should recognize. The earth’s temperature record shows a lot of variation, and currently, as compared to an average, it is cool. Check out the link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record

    Nice link. But why should we care what the temperature was 300 million years ago?

    Currently we are in a geological epoch where glaciations occur, and hence for the past 20-30 million years or so the Earth has generally
    been on the cooler side of things.

    This is quite irrelevant to the discussion. Just because the Earth goes through its “Greenhouse” phases where glaciations are not to be found in the geological record does not mean global warming now does not have implications for civilization or that it should be ignored, like hey, the dinos loved it.. so why can’t we?

    Stuart

  68. #68 Brownian
    August 30, 2007

    Just because some people are assholes is no reason to suffer mental paralysis.

    This really must be printed on bumper stickers.

  69. #69 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    MikeB, the market is already having an effect thru rising gas prices. Higher efficiency standards in the West are easily canceled out by rising demands for energy in India, China, Brazil, and other newly minted members of the industrial club. Better to use X-Prize-style prizes for replacements of fossil fuels (electric cars, nuclear power (fission and fusion), high efficiency solar, etc) than to initiate force against others.

    Your following words, “As Al Capone once said, ‘You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.’” is a prime indication that you prefer warlike solutions to this most likely problem than peaceful solutions. Warning, if you initiate force with a gun against a person, you are liable to have a gun pointed in your direction as well. Give someone a “kind word and a gun” and that person will give you a “rebuttal and a gun”. You better hope you and your agents have enough striking power to win the ensuing firefight and enforce your position.

    If an effective peaceful solution is available along with a warlike solution, it is better to choose the peaceful option. Conflict isn’t a good thing and it is liable to be worse than the problem itself. Lomborg was probably trying to push that point in his own self-aggrandizing way.

  70. #70 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    Hey Stuart, you’re right that most greens don’t have a financial stake in politicizing climate, they have a religious stake in politicizing climate. After all, technological civilization is a demonic abomination to Mother Gaia. Other than waste disposal issues, that reason is probably why most greens oppose nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. These energy sources can replace fossil fuels and continue the “evil” technological civilization. Do you think Islamic suicide bombers are promoting their version of power and control (Sharia Law) for financial reasons or religious reasons? Do you think those Islamist doctors in Britain plowed their fancy Mercedes’s into Glasgow Airport for monetary reasons or for Allah’s Glory?

    As for your “Ad Hominem” attacks against me about not getting my ass off my seat to go to the library, do you think that scientific documents tainted by politics on both sides will suddenly lose their taint if they are placed in the library? Imagine believing that the holey babble and the kkkoran becoming inerrant and reliable because they are in a library. Are you going to trust the holey babble and the kkkoran just because you got your ass off your seat and borrowed them from the library? Every information source has its bias, and there is no such thing as an unbiased source. This includes sources in a library.

  71. #71 Jon H
    August 30, 2007

    “Is there something inherently wrong with asking us to look for the most efficient means to solve a problem before actually trying to solve it”

    There isn’t going to be a means, there are going to have to be dozens if not hundreds. It’s not going to be fixed by some boffin coming up with a carbon-capturing auto bra in 2065.

    Some approaches are going to be most efficient in some circumstances, but completely useless in others. Some approaches will seem like longshots, but be more successful than expected (the US automakers clearly would never have expected the Prius to sell so well, and they still refuse to produce a decent hybrid.)

    You can’t plan this stuff out very easily. You can plan regulations, but it’s a bad idea for those regulations to specify methods, rather than targets and language to exclude loopholes and cheats.

    If Bjorn Lomborg had been considering the problem of information technology in the 60s, he probably would have said we shouldn’t rush into data processing until the most efficient means was found. That would probably result in the ‘most efficient means’ being a few huge Honeywell mainframes, well into the 90s, and no microcomputer revolution in the 70s. Just think how inefficient it was to spend all those billions of dollars on all those computers that have been gathering dust or been thrown out?!

  72. #72 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    Jon H said:

    the US automakers clearly would never have expected the Prius to sell so well, and they still refuse to produce a decent hybrid

    The U.S. automakers are paying for their stupid mistake by losing billions to their competitors like Toyota.

    Good for Toyota.

  73. #73 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    Stuart, it is certainly true that more and more greens are abandoning the “nuclear is the devil” argument, that I can agree.

  74. #74 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    Stuart says:

    “Nuclear waste disposal is a problem. It is not trivial, but I think the problem of Carbon sequestration may prove to be just as problematic.

    With respect to fusion, there is little waste problem, and anyone who says there is, is talking out of their ass. The half-lives involved with fusion have decadel scales compared with thousands of years for fission products. I see fission as a stop gap measure, lasting a century or two until fusion power is commercialized. Then we can throw fission away and its attendant waste problems.”

    I wholeheartedly agree!

    As for MikeB’s comments, I’m still floored by that Al Capone quote.

  75. #75 Robert
    August 30, 2007

    Science spans a wide array of cultures each with their own outlook and concerns. That there is global recognition of the problem is something to ponder. Sure there is bias in science, but I’ll take the 300 years of steady scientific progress which has proven itself effective at limiting the effects of bias to the works of an Economist who with respect to science can’t find his ass with a road map.

    Are you so certain that the 300 years of steady scientific progress will continue? Golden Ages tend to fall into Dark Ages from time to time. I suggest you read history (read history books from opposing perspectives, they’re biased too). I believe we are probably going into a dark age, not because of a lack of information, but an inability to determine true from false. I have read scientific literature and I know CO2 and methane are greenhouse gases, they are experimentally proven. I know that burning fossil fuels adds extra greenhouse gases to the existing carbon cycle, thus contributing to the man-made portion of global warming. The Earth’s Climate is quite complex and far from the controlled environment of the laboratory however. That means, larger groups of people (ie. bureaucracies) and larger reams of data must be processed (compared to smaller reams of data and smaller groups of people in past science history), and more opportunity for people who want to protect their oil business interests or people who want more power and control in the name of Mother Gaia to put their grubby hands all over the bureaucratic machinery of the modern science establishment. At least you recommend the highly sensible remedy of nuclear fission as a stop-gap measure, then nuclear fusion for the long term.

    Good for you Stuart.

    As for MarkB and his grubby statist Al Capone quote, curses be upon him!

  76. #76 Stuart Weinstein
    August 31, 2007

    Robert Writes
    “Are you so certain that the 300 years of steady scientific progress will continue? Golden Ages tend to fall into Dark Ages from time to time. I suggest you read history (read history books from opposing perspectives, they’re biased too). I believe we are probably going into a dark age, not because of a lack of information, but an inability to determine true from false.”

    Science is one of the things that pulled us out of the dark ages. I don’t think we’re heade for the dark ages, unless something catastrophic happens, like atomic war or climatic disaster.

    “I have read scientific literature and I know CO2 and methane are greenhouse gases, they are experimentally proven. I know that burning fossil fuels adds extra greenhouse gases to the existing carbon cycle, thus contributing to the man-made portion of global warming. The Earth’s Climate is quite complex and far from the controlled environment of the laboratory however.”

    There are a number of good climate models, each with its own methods and different applications of the physicis involved. I think they have enough variety and such that the range of behaviors they show is telling us something usefule about the Earth.

    “That means, larger groups of people (ie. bureaucracies) and larger reams of data must be processed (compared to smaller reams of data and smaller groups of people in past science history),”

    So?

    and more opportunity for people who want to protect their oil business interests or people who want more power and control in the name of Mother Gaia to put their grubby hands all over the bureaucratic machinery of the modern science establishment.”

    I think that is too paranoid for moi.

    “At least you recommend the highly sensible remedy of nuclear fission as a stop-gap measure, then nuclear fusion for the long term.”

    It is clearly the lesser of two evils.

    Stuart

  77. #77 MikeB
    August 31, 2007

    Stuart – you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. Give the private sector a target, and they tend to go for it. The classic example is FDR’s target in 1940 of producing 50,000 aeroplanes in the next 4 years. Of course it turned out to be 100,000 instead. Here in the UK, many business’s recently lobbied the government to provide stronger regulations with regard to CO2 – they want targets to aim for. Instead, there are vague asperations which allow the bad to go on polluting, and the good to spend money which they may not recoup. Strong direction and support from government creates a level playing field, with incentives to do better.

    If, however, you allow vested interests, lazy politicians and front-groups to set your priorities, you tend to end up with pretty much the situation you see in the US auto industry right now. I don’t want Ford and GM to go to the wall. There are too many peoples lives to be ruined by that. What I want is for everyone to think about what they are doing, and to make it better, cheaper, more efficient and greener. Unfortunately, GM decided that it was better to send all the EV1′s to the crusher than develop the concept.

    The Prius is, alas, only a small part of the US market (and Toyota’s – who still joined with the other dinosaurs to try to sue California over its CO2 law), but it shows what can be done. Of course, if you removed the $5000 subsidy which the automakers managed to get for each Hummer, perhaps we might be further along.

    Robert, why is it that you think that government and their ‘agents’ should have no part to play in combating climate change? Your government plays a large part in your life, and often tells ‘people’ what to do. You have to go through security checks to fly (to protect you, hopefully, from terrorism); you cannot drive and use a cell phone in many states (because it is dangerous both to you and other roadusers); it tells food manufacturers that they cannot put substances that might poison people in their products, and tells you that you are not allowed to dump waste where ever you like.
    It does all these things, unpopular though they might be with some, for the good of society as a whole. Is that ‘statist’? Possibly, but I like the idea of going to the supermarket and not having to worry whether someone thought it might be more profitable to use a poison to make that food look just a little better (which is exactly what happened until the 19th century Food Safety Acts here in the UK).

    Frankly, I’m a little concerned that a) you seemingly refuse to believe that climate change is real, despite the truely massive amounts of evidence (just check out RealClimate for someone to answer your questions); and b) that you are ‘floored’ by my use of Al Capone’s quote. It simply repeats the truth (which is evident to any parent) that sometimes asking nicely is not enough. If your shocked by that, you should get out more.

    Stuart – I do disagree with you on one thing, and thats nuclear power. I have no particular ideological problem with nukes, but they have never actually managed to survive without large government subsidy and have seldom come in on time or budget. They have large downsides in terms of waste, security and capital costs, and are unlikely to come online for at least a decade, which is far too long in order to make any difference to climate change. Fusion is one of those breakthroughs which has remained ‘in the next decade’ for about the last fifty years – so I’m not holding my breath.

    Lets look at the advice of people like Amory Lovins http://www.rmi.org/, Wilf Patterson http://www.waltpatterson.org/home.htm and Tom Casten http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/8/12/105752/270, and the Apollo Alliance http://home.apolloalliance.org/home2.html and the UCS http://www.ucsusa.org/ have excellent solutions to many of our energy problems. But its not just going to be technology, we are going to have to change how we live, in much the same way we had to during wartime. Its up to all of us whether we do it in comfort or not.

  78. #78 Luna_the_cat
    August 31, 2007

    Robert –

    Read the history of how “global warming” started to become a scientific issue. Seriously, read. History. Science papers. Trace who funds what. It is obvious at the moment that you have not, and basic ignorance allows people to lie to you with impunity. Information will allow you to see that the vast majority of the talking points that you are repeating, are actually lies. ONLY having information yourself will let you figure this out. It is obvious that you are using “it’s all biased” as an excuse not to look up information for yourself, and it really seems like all you are doing is repeating things that you’ve heard which personally appeal to you. If you are genuinely concerned whether something is true or not, that’s a crap way of dealing with it.

    Re: MikeB’s “you get further with a kind word and a gun than you do with a kind word alone” — you may find this morally objectionable, but that doesn’t make it inaccurate. The auto industry is a brilliant example, in fact. It was conclusively demonstrated that seatbelts and airbags vastly increased the survivability of common accidents. Many, many people appealed to the auto industry to build them in. The industry resisted, on the grounds that “such expensive new controls would bankrupt them”, and in fact, they found advertising and lobbying campaigns were cheaper than changing their production, so that is what they did — for years. The changes didn’t start to appear until new regulations were brought in; NOW seatbelts and airbags are standard, and last I checked, the auto industry was hardly bankrupt. Now substitute “greater fuel efficiency” for “seatbelts”, and exactly the same scenario has played out, both in the late 70s and right now. Again and again, the same thing has happened, and it is documented EVERYWHERE for people who bother to pay attention (see, as one small example, http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/7/4/260 ).

    It isn’t a question of “carrot or stick”; it’s carrot AND stick. The fact is, the companies which are on the top of the financial heap under the status quo are always reluctant to move, no matter how well documented the need, because moving will cost some of their profits, and because it is usually cheaper to manipulate public opinion regarding necessity than it is to change production methods. (Why would companies EVER advertise, if it didn’t work?) Also, they don’t want to give smaller companies, who are usually more willing to try innovation and new methods in hopes of gaining more market share, a chance to steal market share from them — so they will try to keep the deck stacked against any shift in power. Generally, widespread changes are only made when an outside force compels it; either the absence of a resource on which they relied, or a financial crash, or more frequently, the introduction of regulations.

    The fact that you don’t like something has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is true. The truth of an issue is something only documented evidence will tell you, but you have to pay attention to the documented evidence, not handwave it away. Give over being pissed off at how morally objectionable you find the quote, and pay attention to history.

  79. #79 Robert
    August 31, 2007

    For MikeB and others who worship the power of government to coerce people willnilly, be fully warned, its striking power is not invincible. What arrogance. It’s too bad a bunch of theocrat scumbags in the middle east has proven me correct. Another good reason to replace fossil fuels.

    It is better to replace fossil fuels with nuclear fission and fusion. Because if a government forces a cutback on essential energy without adequate replacements for it and tells people to live an impoverished lifestyle, you are going to have a serious problem. In the best case scenario (in a democracy), the politicians who placed such restrictions will be voted out of office, in the worst case scenario (in democracies or not), political instability (ie. masked men killing your government agents or bribing them). With the impoverishment and instability, you can forget about wealth left over for replacing fossil fuels with adequate energy sources. It is better to use the peaceful option, your cure is worse than the disease. Get rid of your piggish and thuggish Al Capone attitude, Al Capone was lucky that his armed opponents didn’t kill him. You point a gun to a person, you will have a gun pointed at you.

    The airport inspections are a joke by the way. If you really believe that the “vaunted and mighty” TSA is actually protecting you, then I can’t help you son.

  80. #80 Brian Macker
    August 31, 2007

    “We’ve screwed ourselves proper, and it’s going to cost us piles of cash to fix it.”

    .. or zero cash and live with it, or positive cash flow and increase it.

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