Bjørn Lomborg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bjørn Lomborg
Bjørn Lomborg 1.jpg
Bjørn Lomborg
Born (1965-01-06) 6 January 1965 (age 50)
Frederiksberg, Denmark
Occupation Author, Researcher, Analyst
Subject Environmental Economics

Bjørn Lomborg (Danish: [bjɶɐ̯n ˈlʌmbɒˀw]; born 6 January 1965) is the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and a former director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen. He became internationally known for his best-selling and controversial book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001).

In 2002, Lomborg and the Environmental Assessment Institute founded the Copenhagen Consensus, a project-based conference where prominent economists sought to establish priorities for advancing global welfare using methods based on the theory of welfare economics.

Lomborg campaigned against the Kyoto Protocol and other measures to cut carbon emissions in the short-term, and argued for adaptation to short-term temperature rises as they are inevitable, and for spending money on research and development for longer-term environmental solutions, and on other important world problems such as AIDS, malaria and malnutrition. In his critique of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Lomborg stated: "Global warming is by no means our main environmental threat."[1]

In the chapter on climate change in The Skeptical Environmentalist, he states: "This chapter accepts the reality of man-made global warming but questions the way in which future scenarios have been arrived at and finds that forecasts of climate change of 6 degrees by the end of the century are not plausible".[2] Cost–benefit analyses, calculated by the Copenhagen Consensus, ranked climate mitigation initiatives lowest on a list of international development initiatives when first done in 2004.[3] In a 2010 interview with the New Statesman, Lomborg summarized his position on climate change: "Global warming is real – it is man-made and it is an important problem. But it is not the end of the world."[4]

Academic career[edit]

Lomborg spent a year as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, earned an M.A. degree in political science at the University of Aarhus in 1991, and a Ph.D. degree in political science at the University of Copenhagen in 1994.

He lectured in statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus as an assistant professor (1994–1996) and associate professor (1997–2005). He left the university in February 2005 and in May of that year became an Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen Business School.

Early in his career his professional areas of interest lay in the simulation of strategies in collective action dilemmas, simulation of party behavior in proportional voting systems, and the use of surveys in public administration. In 1996, Lomborg's paper, "Nucleus and Shield: Evolution of Social Structure in the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma", was published in the academic journal, American Sociological Review.[5]

Later Lomborg's interests shifted to the use of statistics in the environmental arena. His most famous book in this area is The Skeptical Environmentalist, whose English translation was published as a work in environmental economics by Cambridge University Press in 2001. He later edited Global Crises, Global Solutions, which presented the first conclusions of the Copenhagen Consensus, published in 2004 by the Cambridge University Press. In 2007, he authored a book entitled Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming.

The Skeptical Environmentalist[edit]

Main article: The Skeptical Environmentalist

In 1998, Lomborg published four essays about the state of the environment in the leading Danish newspaper Politiken, which according to him "resulted in a firestorm debate spanning over 400 articles in major metropolitan newspapers."[6]

In 2001, he attained significant attention by publishing The Skeptical Environmentalist, a controversial book whose main thesis is that many of the most-publicized claims and predictions on environmental issues are wrong.

Formal accusations of scientific dishonesty[edit]

After the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, Lomborg was formally accused of scientific dishonesty by a group of environmental scientists, who brought a total of three complaints against him to the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD), a body under Denmark's Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MSTI). Lomborg was asked whether he regarded the book as a "debate" publication, and thereby not under the purview of the DCSD, or as a scientific work; he chose the latter, clearing the way for the inquiry that followed.[7] The charges claimed that The Skeptical Environmentalist contained deliberately misleading data and flawed conclusions. Due to the similarity of the complaints, the DCSD decided to proceed on the three cases under one investigation.

In January, 2003, the DCSD released a ruling that sent a mixed message, finding the book to be scientifically dishonest through misrepresentation of scientific facts, but Lomborg himself not guilty due to his lack of expertise in the fields in question.[8] That February, Lomborg filed a complaint against the decision with the MSTI, which had oversight over the DCSD. In December, 2003, the Ministry annulled the DCSD decision, citing procedural errors, including lack of documentation of errors in the book, and asked the DCSD to re-examine the case. In March 2004, the DCSD formally decided not to act further on the complaints, reasoning that renewed scrutiny would, in all likelihood, result in the same conclusion.[7][9]

Response of the scientific community[edit]

The original DCSD decision about Lomborg provoked a petition[10] among Danish academics. 308 scientists, many of them from the social sciences, criticised the DCSD's methods in the case and called for the DCSD to be disbanded.[11] The Danish Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation then asked the Danish Research Agency (DRA) to form an independent working group to review DCSD practices.[12] In response to this, another group of Danish scientists collected over 600 signatures, primarily from the medical and natural sciences community, to support the continued existence of the DCSD and presented their petition to the DRA.[11]


The alumni network of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) voted The Skeptical Environmentalist among its list of the top 50 sustainability books.[13]

Continued debate and criticism[edit]

The rulings of the Danish authorities in 2003–2004 left Lomborg's critics frustrated. Lomborg claimed vindication as a result of MSTI's decision to set aside the original finding of DCSD.

The Lomborg Deception, a book by Howard Friel, claims to offer a "careful analysis" of the ways in which Lomborg has "selectively used (and sometimes distorted) the available evidence".[14] Lomborg has provided a 27-page argument-by-argument rebuttal.[15] Friel has written a reply to this rebuttal,[16] in which he admits two errors, but otherwise in general rejects Lomborg's arguments.

A group of scientists published an article in 2005 in the Journal of Information Ethics,[17] in which they concluded that most criticism against Lomborg was unjustified, and that the scientific community misused their authority to suppress Lomborg.

The claim that the accusations against Lomborg were unjustified was challenged in the next issue of Journal of Information Ethics[18] by Kåre Fog, one of the original plaintiffs. Fog reasserted his contention that, despite the ministry's decision, most of the accusations against Lomborg were valid. He also rejected what he called "the Galileo hypothesis", which he describes as the conception that Lomborg is just a brave young man confronting old-fashioned opposition.

Further career[edit]

Government work[edit]

In March 2002, the newly elected center-right prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, appointed Lomborg to run Denmark's new Environmental Assessment Institute (EAI). On 22 June 2004, Lomborg announced his decision to resign from this post to go back to the University of Aarhus, saying his work at the Institute was done and that he could better serve the public debate from the academic sector.

In 2002, Lomborg and the Environmental Assessment Institute founded the Copenhagen Consensus, which seeks to establish priorities for advancing global welfare using methodologies based on the theory of welfare economics. A panel of prominent economists was assembled to evaluate and rank a series of problems every four years. The project was funded largely by the Danish government, and co-sponsored by The Economist. A book summarizing the conclusions of the economists' first assessment, Global Crises, Global Solutions, edited by Lomborg, was published in October 2004 by Cambridge University Press.

In 2006, Lomborg became director of the new Copenhagen Consensus Center, a Danish government-funded institute intended to build on the mandate of the Environmental Assessment Institute, and expand on the original Copenhagen Consensus conference.[19]

Further books[edit]

Solutions for the World's Biggest Problems, published in 2007, offers an "... overview of twenty-three of the world's biggest problems relating to the environment, governance, economics, and health and population. Leading economists provide a short survey of the state-of-the-art analysis and sketch out some policy solutions for which they provide cost-benefit ratios."[20]

Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, also published in 2007, argues against taking immediate and "drastic" action to curb greenhouse gases while simultaneously stating that "Global warming is happening. It's a serious and important problem ...". He argues that "... the cost and benefits of the proposed measures against global warming. ... is the worst way to spend our money. Climate change is a 100-year problem — we should not try to fix it in 10 years."[21]

Howard Friel wrote a book entitled The Lomborg Deception, which criticizes Lomborg, claiming that the sources Lomborg provides in the footnotes do not support—and in some cases are in direct contradiction to—Lomborg's assertions in the text of the book;[22] Lomborg has denied these claims in a public rebuttal.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Lomborg is openly gay and a vegetarian.[24] As a public figure he has been a participant in information campaigns in Denmark about homosexuality, and states that "Being a public gay is to my view a civic responsibility. It's important to show that the width of the gay world cannot be described by a tired stereotype, but goes from leather gays on parade-wagons to suit-and-tie yuppies on the direction floor, as well as everything in between"[25]

Recognitions and awards[edit]

Discussions in the media[edit]

After the release of The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001, Lomborg was subjected to intense scrutiny and criticism in the media, where his scientific qualifications and integrity were both attacked and defended. The verdict of the Danish Committees for Scientific Dishonesty fueled this debate and brought it into the spotlight of international mass media. By the end of 2003 Lomborg had become an international celebrity, with frequent appearances on radio, television and print media around the world.

  • Scientific American published strong criticism of Lomborg's book. Lomborg responded on his own website, quoting the article at such length that Scientific American threatened to sue for copyright infringement. Lomborg eventually removed the rebuttal from his website; it was later published in PDF format on Scientific American's site.[34] The magazine also printed a response to the rebuttal.[35]
  • The Economist defended Lomborg, claiming the panel of experts that had criticised Lomborg in Scientific American was both biased and did not actually counter Lomborg's book. The Economist argued that the panel's opinion had come under no scrutiny at all, and that Lomborg's responses had not been reported.[36]
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! — the U.S. Showtime television programme featured an episode entitled "Environmental Hysteria" in which Lomborg criticised what he claimed was environmentalists' refusal to accept a cost-benefit analysis of environmental questions, and stressed the need to prioritise some issues above others.[37]
  • Rolling Stone stated, "Lomborg pulls off the remarkable feat of welding the techno-optimism of the Internet age with a lefty's concern for the fate of the planet."[38]
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists strongly criticised The Skeptical Environmentalist, claiming it to be "seriously flawed and failing to meet basic standards of credible scientific analysis", accusing Lomborg of presenting data in a fraudulent way, using flawed logic and selectively citing non-peer-reviewed literature.[39] The review was conducted by Peter Gleick, Jerry D. Mahlman, Edward O. Wilson, Thomas Lovejoy, Norman Myers, Jeff Harvey, and Stuart Pimm. Lomborg countered that some of the scientists involved in this report were also named and criticised in The Skeptical Environmentalist, and thus had a vested interest in discrediting it and its author.[citation needed]


Documentary film[edit]

Main article: Cool It (film)

Bjørn Lomborg released a documentary feature film, Cool It, on 12 November 2010 in the US.[42][43] The film in part explicitly challenged Al Gore's 2006 Oscar-winning environmental awareness documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and was frequently presented by the media in that light, as in the Wall Street Journal headline, "Controversial ‘Cool It’ Documentary Takes on 'An Inconvenient Truth'."[44][45] Reviews were generally favorable, with a media critic collective rating of 51% from Rotten Tomatoes[46] and 61% from Metacritic.[47] The Atlantic review described it as "An urgent, intelligent, and entertaining account of the climate policy debate, with a strong focus on cost-effective solutions."[48] At the box office, Cool It 's US release grossed $62,713 (An Inconvenient Truth grossed $24,146,161 in the US).[49][50]

The Bloggers' Briefing with Bjørn Lomborg and his movie COOL IT. Accuracy In Media[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lomborg, Bjørn (2012). "Wrongheaded in Rio". Project Syndicate. 
  2. ^ Lomborg 2001, p. 259.
  3. ^ "Copenhagen Consensus: The Results". Copenhagen Consensus Center. Retrieved 21 November 2014.  "Optimal carbon tax," "The Kyoto Protocol," and "Value-at-risk carbon tax" ranked 15, 16, and 17 on a ranked list of 17 evaluated projects, with a collective Project Rating of Bad.
  4. ^ Elmhirst, Sophie (2010-09-24). "The NS Interview: Bjørn Lomborg". New Statesman. 
  5. ^ Lomborg, Bjørn (1996). "Nucleus and Shield: The Evolution of Social Structure in the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma". American Sociological Review (American Sociological Review, Vol. 61, No. 2) 61 (2): 278–307. doi:10.2307/2096335. JSTOR 2096335. 
  6. ^ Bjørn Lomborg Biography, Retrieved 26 February 2006.
  7. ^ a b Hansen, Jens Morten (2008). "The 'Lomborg case' on sustainable development and scientific dishonesty". International Geological Congress. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  8. ^ The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty: 2003 Annual Report. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  9. ^ "Lomborg celebrates ministry ruling". BBC. 22 December 2003. 
  10. ^ "Underskriftsindsamling i protest mod afgørelsen om Bjørn Lomborg fra - Udvalgene Vedrørende Videnskabelig Uredelighed". Retrieved 26 February 2006.
  11. ^ a b "Social scientists call for abolition of dishonesty committee". Nature. 
  12. ^ The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty: 2002 Annual Report. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  13. ^ Visser, Wayne (2009). The Top 50 Sustainability Books. Cambridge: Greenleaf Publishing. p. 256. ISBN 978-1-906093-32-7. 
  14. ^ Philip Kitcher. The Climate Change Debates Science, Vol. 328, 4 June 2010, p. 1232.
  15. ^[dead link]
  16. ^ "Response by Howard Friel to Bjørn Lomborg’s comments about The Lomborg Deception. February 26, 2010.". Yale Press. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  17. ^ Rörsch, A. et al. (Spring 2005). "On the opposition against the book The Skeptical Environmentalist by B. Lomborg". Journal of Information Ethics 14 (1): 16–28. doi:10.3172/JIE.14.1.16. 
  18. ^ Fog, K. (Fall 2005). "The real nature of the opposition against B. Lomborg". Journal of Information Ethics 14 (2): 66–76. doi:10.3172/JIE.14.2.66. 
  19. ^ "Our story". Copenhagen Consensus Center. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Solutions for the World's Biggest Problems: costs and benefits, Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-71597-3, OCLC 165408072 
  21. ^ Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, Cyan and Marshall Cavendish, 2007, ISBN 978-0-462-09912-5, OCLC 271251227 
  22. ^ Begley, Sharon (22 February 2010). "Book Review: The Lomborg Deception". Newsweek. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  23. ^ Lomborg, Bjørn. "A Response by Bjorn Lomborg to Howard Friel’s ‘The Lomborg Deception’". 
  24. ^ Cowley, Jason (30 June 2003). "The man who demanded a recount". New Statesman. Retrieved 24 July 2007. 
  25. ^ "OBLS personer: Bjørn Lomborg". Danmarks Radio. Retrieved 12 June 2007.  - translated.
  26. ^ "The Global Leaders of Tomorrow 2002". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  27. ^ "The Stars of Europe - Agenda Setters - Bjorn Lomborg". BusinessWeek Online. 17 June 2002. Retrieved 26 February 2006. 
  28. ^ "The 2004 TIME 100". Time. 26 Apr 2004. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  29. ^ "Prospect/FP Top 100 Public Intellectuals Results". Foreign Policy. October 2005. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  30. ^ "Intellectuals – the results". Prospect. 26 July 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  31. ^ Vidal, John; Adam, David; Watts, Jonathan; Hickman, Leo; Sample, Ian (5 January 2008). "50 people who could save the planet". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  32. ^ "Transatlantyk Glocal Hero Award". Transatlantyk Festival Poznan. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  33. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. 26 November 2012. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  34. ^ "Bjørn Lomborg’s comments to the 11-page critique in January 2002 Scientific American (SA)". Scientific American; rebuttal last updated 16 February 2002. Retrieved 26 February 2006.
  35. ^ Rennie, John. "A Response to Lomborg's Rebuttal". Scientific American, 15-April-2002. Retrieved 26 February 2006.
  36. ^ "Thought control". The Economist, 9 January 2003. Retrieved 26 February 2006.
  37. ^ Bullshit, "Environmental Hysteria". Showtime.
  38. ^ "Early Praise for The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 26 February 2006.
  39. ^ "UCS Examines 'The Skeptical Environmentalist'". Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 11 February 2010. 
  40. ^ Bjørn Lomborg: $100bn a year needed to fight climate change in The Guardian, 30 August 2010 "Although Pachauri once compared Lomborg to Hitler, he has now given an unlikely endorsement to the new book, Smart Solutions to Climate Change."
  41. ^ Resisting Climate Reality April 7, 2011 Bill McKibben
  42. ^ "Cool It" movie seeks climate solutions: Lomborg, Reuters
  43. ^
  44. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (10 November 2010). "Controversial ‘Cool It’ Documentary Takes on ‘An Inconvenient Truth’". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  45. ^ Cieply, Michael (22 January 2010). "Filmmaker Seeks to Temper the Message of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’". New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  46. ^ "Cool It (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  47. ^ "Cool It". Metacritic. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  48. ^ Crook, Clive ((2010-10-6)). "Bjorn Lomborg's Movie: Is Quiet the New Loud?". The Atlantic.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  49. ^ "Cool It". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  50. ^ "An Inconvenient Truth". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  51. ^ "The Bloggers' Briefing with Bjorn Lomborg and his movie COOL IT". Accuracy In Media. 2010-10-10. 

External links[edit]