Bjørn Lomborg WSJ Op Ed Is Stunningly Wrong

Bjørn Lomborg wrote an opinion piece that is offensively wrong

Bjørn Lomborg is the director of the conservative Copenhagen Consensus Center. He is author of two books that seem to recommend inaction in the face of climate change, Cool It, which appears to be both a book and a movie, and “The Skeptical Environmentalist.”

This is apparently the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Copenhagen Consensus Center USA, 262 Middlesex St, Lowell MA . This is apparently the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Copenhagen Consensus Center USA, 262 Middlesex St, Lowell MA .

He is well known as a climate contrarian, though I don’t subscribe to the subcategories that are often used to divide up the denialists. Let’s just say that if governments followed Lomborg's suggestions for addressing climate change, civilization would not do well. If you think anthropogenic global warming is for real, important, and something we can address, then you won’t like Lomborg’s ideas much. Same with energy. He gets that wrong too.

Lomborg is or was funded by the Kochtopus and its various associates.

Get the facts on climate change straight

Lomborg’s blog is titled “Get the facts straight,” so when I saw him use that phrase in a recent Op Ed at the Wall Street Journal, I spit coffee all over my keyboard. Why? Because Bjørn Lomborg did not get the facts straight. In fact, he got the facts related to the topic of his Op Ed, titled “The Alarming Thing About Climate Alarmism: Exaggerated, worst-case claims result in bad policy and they ignore a wealth of encouraging data” so wrong we are left wondering how he could be so wrong. Is Lomborg very badly informed, or is he making stuff up? And, if the latter, why would he do that?

Anyway, I saw his Op Ed as an opportunity to Fisk, and so Fisk I did.

Climate change models have done a good job estimating future climate change

Lomborg writes:

It is an indisputable fact that carbon emissions are rising—and faster than most scientists predicted.

No they aren’t. They are rising fast, and that is really annoying, and maybe if you go back far enough in time you can find predictions that are way off, but CO2 emissions are rising, unfortunately, pretty much as fast as the very people someone like Bjorn Lomborg might call “alarmists” have been claiming they would. The following graph is from here.


Lomborg continues ...

But many climate-change alarmists seem to claim that all climate change is worse than expected.


I love the term “alarmist.” It is a dog whistle. If someone calls a mainstream scientists an “alarmist” you better check your wallet. Anyway, yes, mainstream science, in many areas, has been discovering of late that certain areas of climate change are perhaps worse than expected or happening faster. However, I can’t think of anyone who thinks that “all climate change is worse.”

This ignores …

No, it doesn’t ignore anything because it did’t happen. The premise is false. Anyway…

…that much of the data are actually encouraging. The latest study from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that in the previous 15 years temperatures had risen 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit. The average of all models expected 0.8 degrees. So we’re seeing about 90% less temperature rise than expected.

This is incorrect. The rise in temperature over the last 15 years has been within the expected range. The rate of increase over any given 15 year period of time varies, as expected, but there is nothing like the ten to one ratio of predicted to observed Lomborg claims. According to a Climate Nexus post, responding to Lomborg’s assertion,

The difference between model estimates and observations is completely accounted for by natural variability and fits within the range of modelled uncertainty. The reality is that there is no inherent bias in climate models that make them over-estimate the effects of human activity. A recent study that combined 114 possible 15-year trends since 1900 found there was nothing statistically biased in the way that model data differed from observed global mean surface temperature measurements. According to the study’s co-author, Piers Forster, “cherry picking” the most recent 15-year interval to refute climate change modeling is misleading and obscures the long-term agreement between the models and measurements.

What’s more, short-term variation does nothing to change the fact that we are experiencing a dangerous rate of global warming, with nine of the 10 hottest years on record occurring since 2002 and NOAA and NASA officially declaring 2014 the warmest on record. So Lomborg’s insistence that we not worry about climate flies in the face of the record temperatures we’re experiencing.

Bjorn Lomborg, get your facts straight!

Now, returning to Lomborg…

Facts like this are important …

No they aren’t because they are not facts. They are thing you made up. Anyway…

The effects of climate change in the Arctic are more rapid than expected; The Antarctic is also warming faster than the rest of the planet

…because a one-sided focus on worst-case stories is a poor foundation for sound policies.

As would be a one sided focus on fabricated best case scenarios, or even a manufactured balance between to sides of a non debate.

Yes, Arctic sea ice is melting faster than the models expected. But models also predicted that Antarctic sea ice would decrease, yet it is increasing.

That is misleading. It seems reasonable to guess that with global warming change would happen in a similar way in both polar regions, but the two ends of the earth are very different from each other. To a person who does not know much about climate or sea ice it makes sense that both poles will experience reduced summer sea ice. But there are many factors that determine sea ice distribution, including factors that might be changed as a result of global warming that increase sea ice as well as those that decrease it. Also, the often cited increase in Antarctic sea ice is often stated without quantification next to a statement about Arctic sea ice decrease, leading to the impression that there is a balance, where the total global sea ice is constant. This is not true, though by omission of proper context, Lomborg’s statement might allow some to think it is. The amount of sea ice added to the Antarctic is smaller than the loss in the Arctic.

Antarctic sea ice increase does not indicate cooling at that end of the earth. Rather, the Southern Continent and the sea and air around it have been warming, rather dramatically, faster than the global rate of warming, as is the case with the Arctic. Yet, the sea ice maximum has increased. From Skeptical Science:

If the Southern Ocean is warming, why is sea ice increasing? There are several contributing factors. One is the drop in ozone levels over Antarctica. The hole in the ozone layer above the South Pole has caused cooling in the stratosphere (Gillet 2003). A side-effect is a strengthening of the cyclonic winds that circle the Antarctic continent (Thompson 2002). The wind pushes sea ice around, creating areas of open water known as polynyas. More polynyas leads to increased sea ice production (Turner 2009).

Another contributor is changes in ocean circulation. The Southern Ocean consists of a layer of cold water near the surface and a layer of warmer water below. Water from the warmer layer rises up to the surface, melting sea ice. However, as air temperatures warm, the amount of rain and snowfall also increases. This freshens the surface waters, leading to a surface layer less dense than the saltier, warmer water below. The layers become more stratified and mix less. Less heat is transported upwards from the deeper, warmer layer. Hence less sea ice is melted (Zhang 2007).

Antarctic sea ice is complex and counter-intuitive. Despite warming waters, complicated factors unique to the Antarctic region have combined to increase sea ice production. The simplistic interpretation that it’s caused by cooling is false.

Recent research has made an even more direct link between Antarctic warming and Antarctic sea ice expansion. “NOAA said in a news release Tuesday that “as counterintuitive as expanding winter Antarctic sea ice may appear on a warming planet, it may actually be a manifestation of recent warming.”” – read this for all the details.

So, Bjorn Lomborg, do try to get your fact straight, which in some cases requires knowing more about the science you are referring to so you don’t make middle-school level mistakes.

The rate of sea level rise is going up

Back to Bjørn…

Yes, sea levels are rising, but the rise is not accelerating—if anything, two recent papers, one by Chinese scientists published in the January 2014 issue of Global and Planetary Change, and the other by U.S. scientists published in the May 2013 issue ofCoastal Engineering, have shown a small decline in the rate of sea-level increase.

No, the vast majority of research on glacial ice melt shows an increase in rate. Other research shows that there are areas in Antarctic previously thought to be essentially unmeltable to be meltable, eventually.

The first paper Lomborg refers to tries to understand the details of short term variability in sea level rise. It does not say that there is a decline in rate of sea level rise. The paper looks only at changes between 1993 and 2003, not long term trends, so it really couldn't address that issue. The paper shows rapid changes in the rate of sea level rise over short periods of time. Recently, there was a stark drop in rate because thermal expansion temporarily slowed. There was also a recent stark increase because Australia stopped drinking in rain (an effect of huge global warming induced drought) so the ocean got bigger. Very recently, according to the paper Lomborg cites, there has been “rapid recovery of the rising [sea level] from its dramatic drop during the 2011 La Niña [which] introduced a large uncertainty in the estimation of the sea level trend…” source

The second paper Lomborg refers to states, “Whether the increased sea level trend of approximately 3 mm/year measured by the satellites since the 1990’s is a long-term increase from the 20th Century value of approximately 1.7 mm/year or part of a cycle will require longer records; however, the negative accelerations support some cyclic character.”

Not only is it important to get your facts straight, Bjørn, but also, if you cite a source as saying something, please don’t misrepresent it.

Droughts are more likely, or more severe, with global warming

Back to Bjørn…

We are often being told that we’re seeing more and more droughts, but a study published last March in the journal Nature actually shows a decrease in the world’s surface that has been afflicted by droughts since 1982.

Check your wallet. First, the study Lomborg cites does not examine changes in drought over time, so it can't say what he says it says. The study, rather, looks to develop a "global integrated drought monitoring and prediction system" because, as the authors state, "Each year droughts result in significant socioeconomic losses and ecological damage across the globe. Given the growing population and climate change, water and food security are major challenges facing humanity."

One can understand that someone who does not know much about drought would make the mistake Lomborg made. The drought situation is complex. The vast majority of the land surface of the earth has not, and probably can not, experience drought, so talking about percentages of the Earth in drought or not in drought is misleading at best. Places like the American Southwest and California are always dry, so when drought occurs in such an area it is very real but hard to identify against the backdrop of large scale and long term climate. If the surface area of the earth in drought is less since 1982, that would be nice. The study Lomborg cites primarily examines data beginning in 1982, so he probably didn't get that idea there.

Recent papers published in a compendium of the American Meteorological Society included research linking drought to climate change. Climate change has probably had effects that predate the 1980s, so looking at droughts since 1980 may not be valid. Finally, much of the concern we have about drought is about a handful of current problems (i.e, Australia and California) and about future drought. In February 2014, the science advisor to the President of the United States, John Holdren, wrote:

In my recent comments about observed and projected increases in drought in the American West, I mentioned four relatively well understood mechanisms by which climate change can play a role in drought…

The four mechanisms are:
1. In a warming world, a larger fraction of total precipitation falls in downpours, which means a larger fraction is lost to storm runoff (as opposed to being absorbed in soil).

2. In mountain regions that are warming, as most are, a larger fraction of precipitation falls as rain rather than as snow, which means lower stream flows in spring and summer.

3. What snowpack there is melts earlier in a warming world, further reducing flows later in the year.

4. Where temperatures are higher, losses of water from soil and reservoirs due to evaporation are likewise higher than they would otherwise be.

Hurricanes are not decreasing in frequency, and may be increasing in frequency and/or intensity, with global warming

And, back to Bjørn…

Hurricanes are likewise used as an example of the “ever worse” trope. If we look at the U.S., where we have the best statistics, damage costs from hurricanes are increasing—but only because there are more people, with more-expensive property, living near coastlines. If we adjust for population and wealth, hurricane damage during the period 1900–2013 decreased slightly.

Here Bjorn is referring to the widely discredited work of Roger Pielke Jr. In this case, Pielke has looked only at land falling hurricanes, which is egregious cherry picking. It might seem to make sense to do so, because they are the ones that matter, but in fact, land falling Atlantic Hurricanes are rare so they make for lousy statistics. Also, with climate change, we expect changes in the tropics to involve frequent years with fewer than average Atlantic hurricanes. Globally we generally expect more hurricanes, more energy in storms generally in the tropics and elsewhere, and possibly a greater occurrence of really powerful hurricanes fed by extraordinary ocean heat on surface and within the top 100 meters or so of the surface. Much more research is needed in this area, but to suggest that major storms are less of a problem now or in the future is wrong.

Got to get the facts straight, Bjørn. And Roger.

At the U.N. climate conference in Lima, Peru, in December, attendees were told that their countries should cut carbon emissions to avoid future damage from storms like typhoon Hagupit, which hit the Philippines during the conference, killing at least 21 people and forcing more than a million into shelters. Yet the trend for landfalling typhoons around the Philippines has actually declined since 1950, according to a study published in 2012 by the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. Again, we’re told that things are worse than ever, but the facts don’t support this.

Again, Lomborg is cherry picking and using a discredited study.

There are several hurricane basins, several in the Pacific, the Indian ocean, and the Atlantic. One can look at data over several time scales: paleo covering hundreds or thousands of years, historic covering a century or so, and instrumental or recent, covering a century, or decades. One can count the number of hurricanes, use the limited “category” scale to divide up the number or use an overall measurement of energy in hurricanes. Then, these things can be studied by many researchers at various times. If you look across all of those studies examining various basins, time scales, and measures, you will see a range of studies showing increases or decreases in “how much hurricane” there is over time. The studies that take the longer time scales and that look at total energy rather than number of storms (or number of landfalling storms) almost always show increases. Here, Lomborg has picked a specific study that seems to meet his requirements, and ignored a vast literature. In this case, he has gone back to Pielke, whose work on hurricanes and other storm related issues has been widely discreted by actual climate scientists (like Lomborg, Pielke is not a climate scientist).

This is important because if we want to help the poor people who are most threatened by natural disasters, we have to recognize that it is less about cutting carbon emissions than it is about pulling them out of poverty.

Oh the poor poor people. If Bjorn Lomborg really cared about poor people why did he mention Hagiput and not mention Hayian/Yolanda, which killed 6,300 people? No. For Bjorn Lomborg seems more about selling oil and coal or serving the 1% or something. For the rest of us, it should be about keeping the Carbon in the ground.

The best way to see this is to look at the world’s deaths from natural disasters over time. In the Oxford University database for death rates from floods, extreme temperatures, droughts and storms, the average in the first part of last century was more than 13 dead every year per 100,000 people. Since then the death rates have dropped 97% to a new low in the 2010s of 0.38 per 100,000 people.

No, that is absolutely incorrect. Morbidity is the wagging tail of the much larger dog of underlying causes. The exact number of people who die because of phenomenon is usually a highly variable and unreliable number. This is the Pielke strategy: identify variables that are likely to have a lot of uncontrolled variation, and see if any of those happen to go the way you want the data to go. Instead of the number of tropical cyclones, look only at the ones that become hurricanes. Instead of hurricanes, look only at the ones that strike land. Instead of looking at land falling hurricanes, look only at the number of people killed per hurricane, and ignore all the other data. Haiyan vs. Hagiput provide an example. The former was a much more severe storm but the latter was not a walk in the park, maybe only half as strong. But the number killed in the two storms, 6,300 vs. a couple of dozen, is dramatically different. No Bjorn, the best way to track the effects of climate change is not to look at deaths over time. That is the worst way to do it.

Also, the preparation and mitigation argument is a red herring. Disasters get less disastrous over time because we either move out of the way (as the coasts of much of New England have been abandoned since the 1970s because of the storms), predict bad events more accurately, implement evacuation plans, or but extra nails in the roof so it is less likely to blow off. We spend enormous amounts of money and expend considerable effort in reducing deaths through storms. See this for an example of the difference between the deadly effects of storms in New England and how that changed over time with the ability to predict bad storms and close roads and require people to go home and chill rather than stay out and die. That has nothing to do with changes in storm frequency or intensity under global warming. Bjorn Lomborg is asking you to believe that these investments will solve any climate crisis that develops in the future.

The dramatic decline is mostly due to economic development that helps nations withstand catastrophes. If you’re rich like Florida, a major hurricane might cause plenty of damage to expensive buildings, but it kills few people and causes a temporary dent in economic output. If a similar hurricane hits a poorer country like the Philippines or Guatemala, it kills many more and can devastate the economy.

Rich like Florida? When a hurricane hits the US coast it is far more likely to hit an area in poverty than one that is wealthy. With the US south largely in the grip of conservative politicians who are put in place to preserve or increase wealth disparity, that situation is only going to get worse. We are experiencing rapid climate change. There is no chance that preparation for disaster will keep up, there is no change that we can gentrify the world’s poor regions at a rate sufficient that they are living in the equivalent of the rich part of Miami. The coast of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana is very vulnerable to severe hurricanes, and is in a major “First World” country, but is just loaded with poor people living in inadequate housing with crumbling infrastructure. So, no. We should certainly do what we can do to spread the wealth and bring people out of poverty but it won’t be enough and it won’t be quick.

In short, climate change is not worse than we thought. Some indicators are worse, but some are better. That doesn’t mean global warming is not a reality or not a problem. It definitely is. But the narrative that the world’s climate is changing from bad to worse is unhelpful alarmism, which prevents us from focusing on smart solutions.

Yes, generally, it is. And may effects may be coming faster than thought. Is "narrative" becoming another dog whistle?

A well-meaning environmentalist might argue that, because climate change is a reality, why not ramp up the rhetoric and focus on the bad news to make sure the public understands its importance.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.52.33 AM

Hardly anybody is doing that. All the activists and communicators I know try to be reasonable. The breathless argument that the argument of others is breathless is made of straw.

But isn’t that what has been done for the past 20 years?

A statement with no facts behind it, that one.

The public has been bombarded with dramatic headlines and apocalyptic photos of climate change and its consequences. Yet despite endless successions of climate summits, carbon emissions continue to rise, especially in rapidly developing countries like India, China and many African nations.

Ah, now we are talking about the press, not “environmentalists” and scientists, etc. Nice bait and switch there. The press probably has been bombarding with headlines, but half of those headlines are like the Op Ed Lomborg wrote for the Wall Street Journal; foundation-less appeals to the non existent "other side" of the argument, full of irrelevant citations, facts that are not true, wrapped in a cloak of faux skeptical scholarship, in service of a false balance that probably sells papers.

Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels. Yet today, according to the International Energy Agency, only about 0.4% of global energy consumption comes from solar photovoltaics and windmills. And even with exceptionally optimistic assumptions about future deployment of wind and solar, the IEA expects that these energy forms will provide a minuscule 2.2% of the world’s energy by 2040.

In other words, for at least the next two decades, solar and wind energy are simply expensive, feel-good measures that will have an imperceptible climate impact. Instead, we should focus on investing in research and development of green energy, including new battery technology to better store and discharge solar and wind energy and lower its costs. We also need to invest in and promote growth in the world’s poorest nations, which suffer the most from natural disasters.

I see your fossil fuel based entity and raise you one. The American Petroleum Institute says:

Few things threaten America’s future prosperity more than climate change.

But there is growing hope. Every 2.5 minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is helping to fight this battle by flipping the switch on another completed solar project.

According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the United States installed an estimated 7.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar last year — a 42 percent increase over 2013 — making it the best year ever for solar installations in America. What’s more, solar accounted for a record 53 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in the first half of 2014, pushing solar to the front as the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America.

Today, the U.S. has an estimated 20.2 GW of installed solar capacity, enough to effectively power nearly 4 million homes in the United States — or every single home in a state the size of Massachusetts or New Jersey — with another 20 GW in the pipeline for 2015–2016.

Additionally, innovative solar heating and cooling systems (SHC) are offering American consumers cost-efficient, effective options for meeting their energy needs, while lowering their utility bills. In fact, a report prepared for SEIA outlines an aggressive plan to install 100 million SHC panels in the United States by 2050. This action alone would create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs.

So. Let’s do two things. Start ignoring Bjorn Lomborg (and the Wall Street Journal) and start doing more to keep the Carbon in the ground.


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Bjorn Lomborg wrote an opinion piece that Greg (bin) Laden didn't agree with and that is offensively wrong.

There, fixed it for you.

Haven't heard much of our clever fellow countryman lately, at least here in Denmark. But he's a clever chap, who know where tu suck with his straw! Anyway here's an article to remind us about him!

By Hans H. Krarup (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

I don't think the Copenhagen institute is real. I have heard it is a mail drop and little more. It is not in Denmark, but in the US.

It is amazing how often people who are funded by the petroleum industry are wrong about human-caused climate change. I wonder if there is a connection.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

See this for an image of Copenhagen Consensus Center USA. I got it from Google Streetview, which is even more fun.

Lomborg moved to Prague in 2012.

The US operation is a a 501(c)(3) "shell" to transfer money from mostly-dark sources in US to Lomborg. See <a href="The Millions Behind Bjorn Lomborg.

For more history behind the tactics, see Lomborg and playing the long game.

Lomborg is a political scientist (not a statistician or economist) who has published almost nothing in peer-reviewed journals. He is especially famed for including huge numbers of footnotes that look good, unless you actually check the sources.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Greg Laden wrote a blog post addressing the errors in an article by Lomborg. I didn't read the blog post but I know Greg did it just to be petty"

- that's what Hobbes intended to type.
I'm not surprised the WSJ gave space to Lomborg, but I am surprised (probably shouldn't be) that he is still out and about and shilling.

John, thanks. I had seen your pic on Twitter, but it is so out there that I was wondering if it was a photographic form of a Poe or something! I added the photo to the post.

Also, with climate change, we expect changes in the tropics to involve frequent years with fewer than average Atlantic hurricanes.

Persistance forecasting dictates that 'We' would also expect that self-same scenario without any current climate change contribution, anthropogenic or otherwise.

If there is an increase in hurricane activity connected to global warming, it is currently obscured by the AMO quasi-periodic cycle.…

Pielke has looked only at land falling hurricanes

Considering that satellite observation goes back <50 years (1966) then I'd expect there will be some angling for funky 'fishy' proxies required to generate a value for accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) otherwise; Especially given the long periodicity (50-70 yrs?) of the AMO and all the other little periodicities (11,22,30, ...) in tropical cyclone activity which seems to be superimposed upon it.


The highest ever ACE estimated for a single storm in the Atlantic is 73.6, for Hurricane San Ciriaco in 1899. This single storm had an ACE higher than many whole Atlantic storm seasons.

Ok. I cherrypicked the Atlantic Basin for brevity.

No, the vast majority of research on glacial ice melt shows an increase in rate.

If the rate of melting is increasing and yet the rise in MSL is not accelerating then it may be logical to assume that more fresh water is being held in land aquafers -- Which might be interpreted as decreased overall drought (Aquaduct technology may be able to take excesses and transport that to deficient areas).

Recently, there was a stark drop in rate because thermal expansion temporarily slowed.

So, um, is that what is expected when the 'missing' (as per GHG warming models) mid-level atmospheric heat is being taken up by the oceans?

But, you are right; Timescale does matter.

Well, Tim, yes, as you say, some good cherry picking there. There are specific CC reasons to expect a high frequency of low activity Atlantic TC's. Yes, for "brevity" you picked the Atlantic for accumulated energy,but globally it is increasing. The rise of MSL is not failing to accelerate. It has acceleration overall; the most likely explanations for periods of lower acceleration, etc., include fresh water (the other side of the Australian coin; a very rainy period soaked up parts of the sea, and after that, there was an adjustment) and temperature. The thing is, we are seeing only the beginning of major glacial melt. This is like asking which race care is winning the race at the very beginning when they are all starting out from a stop and spinning their wheels.

No Poes here, just Google Streetview :-)

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

John Mashey should delve further--one of the few points of political symmetry about the climate wars is that they are replete with academic celebs who Have"published almost nothing in peer-reviewed journals. " And are "especially famed for including huge numbers of footnotes that look good, unless you actually check the sources."

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Greg: as noted, no Poe.
Here was the original contact address.

It was still that way Nov 29, 2014, but sometime since has been updated to say it is a mail forwarding service (and more). I don't know when they made the change, but it was well after Graham Readfearn's article in June. and my Tweet in July.

If one reads the IRS Form 990s, and checks 2012:

The Board is:
Roland Mathiasson, Deputy Dir/Asst Treasurer
Dr Bjorn Lomborg
James Harff or here Secretary
Scott Calahan Treasurer
Loretta Michaels, Director

I.,e., 2 of 5 Board members were employees. Harff signed the earlier Form 990s, although the 2013 one has Mathiesson.
Harff seems to be off the Current Board.

501(c)(3) experts can decide whether or not this is good governance.

"Why is the Copenhagen Consensus Center using a mail forwarding service?

Our research is not done in-house, we work with more than 100 of the world's top economists (including 7 Nobel Laureates) located at some of the most prestigious universities and organization world-wide, to identify the most bang-for-the-buck solutions to global challenges. In addition we collaborate with contractors and volunteers to disseminate the results in different countries and languages.

By organizing ourselves as a network, we can work with the smartest people regardless of where in the world the might be located. Most of our core team, consisting of about 8 full-time project managers and communication people are working from Budapest. Despite the name we no longer have an office in Copenhagen. Our president and founder Bjorn Lomborg resides in Prague, but travels more than 200 days per year for conferences, seminars, meetings and interviews.

We use cloud-services for all our documents, mailing lists, multimedia and project management. Team meetings are mostly conducted via Skype. Mailing services, translations and other specialized tasks are outsourced to professionals. We are a registered 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization in the United States. Our accounting is performed by an accounting firm in Washington, DC, specialized in non-profit accounting. We are audited every year by CohnReznick, the tenth largest CPA in the United States.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Bjorn Lomborg is an intelligent and largely reasonable guy on the global warming issue. The only thing I’d say against him is that he believes man is causing some GW.

By See Noevo (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Team meetings are mostly conducted via Skype.

I really like this. Perhaps I should found my own nonstitute.

By wereatheist (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Lomborg is quite renowned for his "errors". I don't know what the statistical probability is of somebody randomly making so many errors innocently, but I suspect it is very small.

Amusingly, his chief defence against a finding of dishonesty by a Danish academic body was to make a claim of his own lack of competence. ie, he lacks the expertise to be expected to be accurate.
Basically, he's a wanker.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Hey, 'wereatheist', if you do, where will you get your illicit funding source?

To get a good 'dark money' cash flow going, you'll need to do something especially heinous to mankind that your nefarious sponsor(s) will find personally financially rewarding.

And as the 'nonstitute' owner/founder, you'll need to publish bald-faced lies and libelous claims to smear the reputations of innocent, well-meaning, responsible people -- and make public appearances to disseminate your propaganda. Can you do that with a straight face and a well-rehearsed act of sincerity? You may need a good acting coach for that.

Perhaps the hardest part of being a 'nonstitute' owner is figuring out how to murder your own God-given conscience without also killing your physical self, so that you won't slip up in a stray moment of realizing what perdition you're buying into by selling out during your brief time on Earth.

I think these qualifications are indeed difficult to achieve and get right, which is probably part of the reason why these 'nonstitute' owners get paid so lavishly. After all, it's more than just those team meetings to formulate the latest subterfuges aimed at undermining good governance and a sustainable future for man & life on Earth, you know.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Greg, I completely understand your need to discredit Lomborg's climate science, but the commentary is one on economics, and there your own bias decreases the effectiveness of your criticism. Anyone who sees "poverty" in the United States Gulf coast as in any way comparable to poverty in Guatemala or the Philippines - a difference you fail to acknowledge - lives a fantasy. Lomborg's piece is wrong on its climate science, but right on the need to consider economics when making economic policy. I wish you had confined your criticism to the climate science. It would have been far more effective.

By John P. Eleazarian (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

The commentary starts with several aspects of climate change then eventually switches to economics. The economic argument is based in one false statement after another. No bias there on any one's part other than Lomborgs.

When we get to the economic argument, we could have a real discussion but he botches that too. The transmission from climate science to the economic aspects is based on a closely related set of discredited research on links between climate/weather effects and policy.

I do not equate poverty along the gulf coast and poverty in the Philippines.

It is true that we need to consider economics. But I addressed that point as well. And that is where you missed the point by focusing on what I didn't say (equating gulf coast to poor E. Asia.) We are supposed to bring the people of the Philippines and everywhere else up to Miami standards, but here in the US we dan't even bring the people of Mississippi up to Miami standards. Yes, I agree that we should do that for a wide range of reasons, but it is not the solution to climate change's effects.

Also, why should I confine my criticism to the climate science? Thanks for the comment, though.

... and there your own bias decreases the effectiveness of your criticism

You used the word "bias" as if that is a bad thing. Intelligent people are supposed to be biased: that's part of being intelligent. His criticism is "biased" by being based on reality, observation, and facts. If Lomborg wants to be taken seriously (hee! I'm fully) he needs to be biased also, but towards reality and honesty.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

In reply to by John P. Eleazarian (not verified)

Economics isn't physics (it's harder in some ways), and there is a lot more of the "schools of thought" issue that persists over many decades, so one has to be careful.

It is important to consider economics, but it is also useful to assess credibility.
Folks like Nicholas Stern, Bill Nordhaus and Bob Ayres (to name a few) areactually serious economists with long track records of publishing peer-reviewed economics research. (Google Scholar does OK.)
That of course doesn't make them right, but it's a first6check.

I own books by them and likewise have Skeptical Environmentalist, both version of Cool It! and he is certainly open about being inspired by Julian SImon. It iis possible to compare the calibre of work.

Perhaps Lomborg fans would care to list a few of Lomborg's key economics papers in peer-reviewed journals? I haven't happened to run across any., but perhaps I'm not looking in right places. It is possible that a political scientist might do good economics research, but there might also be room for doubt.

Political scientist Lomborg is endlessly wrong on basic science, and his "errors" always go one direction, a hint. In the even-murkier domain of economics, why should would he be accorded default credibility?

By John Mashey (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

Bjorn Lomborg WSJ Op Ed Is Stunningly Wrong"

I am entirely unsurprised.

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

@13. See Noevo

Bjorn Lomborg is an intelligent and largely reasonable guy on the global warming issue. The only thing I’d say against him is that he believes man is causing some GW.

I am curious. Why exactly would you say otherwise against the advice of 98 out of 100 experts in the relevant field? What is your extraordinary evidence to back up your extraordinary claim here to quote Sagan's Law?

@ Greg Laden ; They call this "fisking" now? Always thought the word was 'deconstruction' before. (Mumble, mumble, semiotics, old philosophy class , mumble.) Either way, great take down and well writ! Thanks for this.

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Deconstruction is a useful approach when there is a somewhat more complex construction. In this case, Lomborg lists a number of "facts" (every one of which is wrong) with one layer of structure on them (here I go deconstructing) which leads from a fake to the left (the CO2 comment) to a series of no-no comments (this and that that the Alarmist Leftgazi have wrong) and eventually to the usual end point ... children, poor people, or puppies ... where entirely pro-economy measures are recommended, and any decision with a green tinge is abhorred as anti puppy. That is his pattern.

Fisking refers to going line by line through a simple text like this and addressing each point, or most of the points (named after frequent target Robert Fisk). It's more like counter-bullet points than bullet points.

Some day a deconstruction would be fun but I'm kind of busy doing my hair.

@ ^ Greg laden : Fair enough. Did not know that -cheers! Something new I've learnt today!

Good and accurate summary of Lomborg's pattern there too.

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 06 Feb 2015 #permalink

John Mashey's link about Lomborg moving to Prague is apparently defective. Here is corroboration from Lubos Motl, a Czech physicist.

Lomborg's move makes perfect sense to me because at the time (2012) the Czech republic was headed by Vaclav Klaus, well known as a Denier. He was succeeded in 2013 by Milos Zeman, who holds similar views.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 08 Feb 2015 #permalink

Bjorn Lomborg has been cherry-picking data to support incorrect positions for 15 years or more. The Skeptical Environmentalist (which I read and deconstructed, once upon a time) can be used as a template for how to make a specious argument seem reasonable. It is obvious to me that Lomborg deliberately misrepresented the data - that he knew he was on the wrong side of the argument and didn't care, because he's actually a pretty smart guy whose lies were subtle and believable for anyone who wasn't willing to dig into the data themselves. It's very difficult to be so reasonably wrong unless you know you're wrong and are aware of enough of the data to be able to cherry-pick it so meticulously.

It used to be hard for me to believe that someone who knows how serious the climate change problem is would be greedy enough to write such a book, but even now Lomborg continues to be that greedy, using his trademarked methodology to lie for profit, and I am far less naive than I was 13 years ago when I first came across this dangerous individual. People will do all kinds of evil for money, but it takes a true monster to use his intelligence as a weapon against a better future for all of humanity, just for his own profit.

By El_Volcan (not verified) on 08 Feb 2015 #permalink

A first-rate fisking. One variable the SS link omits is that freshening occurs not just from increased precipitation over the Southern Ocean but from basal melt--the melting of land-based or grounded ice from underneath. The warmer surface under the ice shelves cause the ice shelves to lose mass, thus freshening the surrounding ocean and raising the freezing point of the water, which allows sea ice to form more easily. See Bintanja, et al 2013:

Also, waves generated by storms over the open ocean are just as important to the stability of ice shelves as air and water temperature, and AGW is expected to amplify storm behavior. Both factors reduce ocean salinity, allowing more sea ice to form.

By Daniel Bastian (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink


It's the first link in your #5. It gives me a "redirect" message from Google: "That link is sending you to an invalid URL."

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

Thanks, that one was supposed to be link to Lubos Motl's post.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

My first introduction to Lomberg was when he stepped squarely into my area of expertise with some of his chapters in The Skeptical Environmentalist. Various excerpts were shown around the biology department, and the consensus was that he had to be knowingly lying because no-one could get so many things that badly wrong by accident. I used parts of one chapter as an exercise for my students. I told them they needed to confirm his claims, and they came back to the next class with the claims dismantled....they also were quite surprised he would make claims that were so easy to refute.

I see someone has already posted the Lomberg error website...worth skimming.

By Dan Andrews (not verified) on 13 Feb 2015 #permalink

Daniel Bastian #31 says,

The warmer surface under the ice shelves cause the ice shelves to lose mass, thus freshening the surrounding ocean and raising the freezing point of the water, which allows sea ice to form more easily

Annnd ice is a good thermal insulator. Annnd, as far as I know, enhanced albido in the higher latitudes does not balance excess solar input in more equitorial regions (even though it is not showing up as increased thermal expansion or warming the top of the troposphere). But wait, there is more: Extra sea ice should be a 'positive feedback' to GHG warming.

Because of anthropogenic global warming, we are all going to freeze to death.

Global warming is a scam.... Time will show that fact... By then the left will just rename it again.... "The sky is falling!!!" Lol

"Global warming is a scam…. Time will show that fact…"

And even 93% of the world's ice masses are in on the conspiracy! Damn them!

By Desertphile (not verified) on 23 Oct 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Jimmy (not verified)