Is there logic in Bjorn Lomborg’s climate change proposals?

The Australian’s opinion piece writers on the energy and climate change issue include Judith and Henry as well as Maurice Newman, Chris Kenny and Graham Lloyd.  They are all doing terrific work in addressing the myths and self-serving agitprop that has the main political parties in thrall.

But where does Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg fit in with this?  Articulate and courageous, he converted himself from being a member of Greenpeace and a climate change believer into a skeptic of sorts.  He did so 20 years ago, after critically analysing but failing to repudiate Julian Simon’s assessments that environmentalists’ alarmism is unfounded.

His position became that any environmental damage humans might be creating would easily be solved by technological developments and that these developments would come all the more readily and cheaply if we refrained from imposing costs on the economy.

He was excoriated for this apostasy in Denmark and elsewhere, (including by establishment academic journals like Nature and the Scientific American) as only a reformed leftist can be.

Even so, back in 2008, he was named one of the “100 the most influential people on the planet” by Time, a “global leader for tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum, and “one of the 50 people who could save the planet” by The Guardian. 

He has continued ever since to promote a philosophy that climate change might well be real but that other issues are more pressing and that climate change can be resolved by R&D funding.

In the weekend Australian he criticises the Paris Agreement arguing that the “truth of the (Agreement) was oversold”.  Not only would the measures agreed to in the Paris Agreement have a trivial (0.053C reduction in temperatures) but he shows that the 1.5C target is a fantasy and that the agreed measures to meet even the 2C target would only go one per cent of the way.

He then draws on the literature to point out, “global warming has roughly a zero net cost to humanity”.  So far so good, but he goes on to repeat a refrain he has used for the past decade – his “Copenhagen Consensus” calls for a $100 billion year spending on R&D to resolve this non-problem.

The world already spends colossal sums on the issue – not only directly but in research that is partially justified by the disaster said to be in the wake of postulated warming (think the Great Barrier Reef spending scam).

An LSE report found that, “In 2011, the last year for which comprehensive public R&D data reported to the IEA is available, OECD governments spent around €14 billion to support research in climate change mitigation technologies.”  Kenneth Haapala found that for the US alone, in the 20 years to 2014 some $166 billion (in 2012 dollars) was spent on climate change research.  Even in Australia our very own CSIRO at one stage boasted that half of its annual $1.6 billion budget was climate change oriented, and on top of that we have funding for the BoM and CRCs.

Lomborg points to the absence of a problem, the impossibility of the Paris Agreement being able to combat this phantom scare and a call for a sixfold increase in the already extravagant waste of resources to combat it. Something’s wrong with the logic here.

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34 Responses to Is there logic in Bjorn Lomborg’s climate change proposals?

  1. Herodotus

    Something’s wrong with the logic here.
    As some have already said – with a public pulpit larger than any of us here have – the current mode of discussion of issues both social and scientific owes little if anything to logic and much to emotion, indeed more often to hysteria.

  2. Mark M

    Hottest Year Ever breaks out. Again:

    VAST parts of Australia woke up to the coldest day of the year, with the temperature dropping to just 1.2C in Sydney.
    https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/eastern-australian-capitals-to-shiver-their-way-though-coldest-temperatures-so-far-this-winter/news-story/8f2228bbceec47811b81680e0fd92129

  3. Crossie

    Hottest Year Ever breaks out. Again:

    VAST parts of Australia woke up to the coldest day of the year, with the temperature dropping to just 1.2C in Sydney.

    We have lived in our current house since 1977 and I remember well the heatwaves and great bushfires of the summer of 1977/78 when much of the Blue Mountains were ablaze and the smoke hovered over the entire Cumberland Plain. I also remember the very cold winters of 1980 and 1983. Both were correctly attributed by BOM to sunspot activity or lack thereof. But if most of your funding depends on sprooking human caused climate change then of course you will do so.

    The scientists are only following the money but what are our politicians following? Are they herded by the media and academia into the human caused climate change ghetto and if so then, to save the he world, we may need to get rid of the media. How we deal with academia is a harder question.

  4. stackja

    No worries say The Greens. Hot is AGW. Cold is climate change.

  5. Chris Bond

    I think it’s a good article, saying a lot of what needs to be said.
    Far better to tell people we should stop “subsidising existing inefficient solar panels and wind turbines” but instead invest in “feasible technological breakthroughs that could help solar, wind, fusion, fission, artificial biomass and other promising technologies to achieve required breakthroughs.”
    Maybe not because of climate change, but because ultimately the oil and gas will run out.
    Those industries took decades to build to the scale they are.
    Replacing them with reliable alternatives able to power whole countries will take decades to develop and put in place.
    And the R&D needs to come first.

  6. I can see no end to this delusional charade so long as skeptics and luke-warmists continue to talk about “emissions” and “greenhouse gases”.
    The spell will eventually be broken when the populace realises that all of this nonsense is irrational make-believe. Global warming (the IPCC insist on 0.8 degrees of warming since the little ice age, but it has cooled 0.65 degrees since 2016) . “Climate change”, in the context of the definition of climate, is regional. There has been no net change in any region’s climate since the industrial revolution. Non-condensing gases have no effect on atmospheric heat transfer. The whole thing is a fairy tale. Until we hammer that home, this catastrophe will meander along forever.

  7. Myrddin Seren

    WTF is artificial biomass ?

    And yes, agreed. What is the rationale for $100 bill p.a. on energy R&D ?

    Would $200 bill p.a. get nirvana twice as fast ?

  8. Bruce of Newcastle

    He has continued ever since to promote a philosophy that climate change might well be real but that other issues are more pressing and that climate change can be resolved by R&D funding.

    I can resolve climate change by spending $0.
    One link will do it:

    Japanese Scientists: IPCC Models Sloppy And Lopsided, Major Factors “Not Adequately Represented” (14 July)

    Another paper titled “The Solar Wind and Climate: Evaluating the Influence of the Solar Wind on Temperature and Teleconnection Patterns Using Correlation Maps” lends great support to the claim that solar activity plays a major role in driving the Earth’s climate, and that CO2’s impact is being grossly overstated.

    The paper, authored by a team of researchers led by Japanese physical chemist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, photo right, examined the influence of changes in solar activity (solar wind in particular) on surface temperatures and major oceanic oscillations such as the Arctic Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which have great impacts on regional and global climate.

    The researchers feel that the major drivers of the Earth’s climate are more related to the sun and the oceans, and CO2’s role has been exaggerated.

    This is as per my analysis from back in 2010 just after the Copenhagen Climapaloosa. I wanted to test the data, and when I did I found that the Sun and oceans accounted for about 85% of the warming last century. It’s nice to see a Japanese chemist agreeing with an Aussie chemist!

    Given all the vituperation that Lomborg has suffered I have to think by now he is actually a sceptic like me. But if it suits his aims to maintain a façade of warmieness then that’s fine by me.

  9. Nerblnob

    Chris:

    Maybe not because of climate change, but because ultimately the oil and gas will run out.
    Those industries took decades to build to the scale they are.
    Replacing them with reliable alternatives able to power whole countries will take decades to develop and put in place.
    And the R&D needs to come first.

    1. Wind and solar is not meant to be replacing gas – it’s supposed to be replacing coal-fired electricity. Australia has reserves of coal for hundreds of years. In fact the uselessness of wind and solar and the deliberate sabotaging of coal business by the state has meant more gas and oil (diesel generators) is being used.

    2.The most efficient oil & gas capacity was not built by the state but by entrepreneurs taking risks. Big risks for big rewards. Despite small contributions by state-run institutions, R&D in oil & gas extraction and production technology is almost all financed by private institutions and individuals. There is little for the state to do except get out of the way (Australia is doing just the opposite – the feds standing idly by while states ban CSG, onshore drilling and fracking without a shred of evidence that these bans are a net benefit).

    3. Every surge in oil & gas prices for producers leads to extra reserves being discovered and developed. Nothing on this earth is infinite but we can say that at present rates of development and usage, hydrocarbons are virtually inexhaustible – probably more so than the rare minerals needed for the most-promoted alternative energy technologies.

    4. If oil and gas is going to be imminently exhausted then rising prices will eventually stimulate R&D and real alternative winners will emerge. Government (all levels) interfering in markets and intervening on behalf of chosen technologies stifles this process rather than stimulates it by diverting resources to lame ducks and white elephants.

    5. Nobody serious is arguing that coal reserves are imminently exhaustible.

  10. Peter O'Brien

    Alan, you are right. Lomborg makes eminent sense in everything he says apart from his insistence that we should spend more on R&D for renewables. It may be that rent seeking renewable companies have become complacent due to the handouts they routinely receive and don’t bother with investing part of their windfall in R&D or, at best, minimize their efforts. Let’s cut out the subsidies and see how many are prepared to invest seriously in their own futures as every other technology has to do.

  11. RobK

    Im with BoN on this.
    Further, i can see no other reason than a political one for the IPCC to be setup with a charter only to investigate man’s CO2 impact on warming of the planet.
    The thing is, fossil fuels wont suddenly run out. They will slowly become more expensive if left to normal demands, other solutions come to the fore automatically. Our use of energy largely defines our living standard and physical capability. We actually have plenty of time to work these things out. Yes, there are other pressing problems to tend to.

  12. Leo G

    Lomborg points to the absence of a problem, the impossibility of the Paris Agreement being able to combat this phantom scare and a call for a sixfold increase in the already extravagant waste of resources to combat it. Something’s wrong with the logic here.

    Actually, his suggested budget was $250 billion a year, but his panel shortlisted R&D projects to a total of $105 billion a year. The shortlist comprised an OECD beef tax, CO2 storage, and Climate Change adaption.
    Lombok’s rationale was that $250 billion per year was “in the order of magnitude of spending that world leaders could commit to in the Copenhagen COP-15 negotiations”. It looks extravagant compared with Paris Agreement spending, because the latter has not implemented the spending anticipated in 2009.

  13. cohenite

    Lomborg’s point is simple: even if you believe in globall warming and that you can control it on any cost/benefit analysis it is better to do nothing.

  14. JC

    I was wondering what he was trying to convey. Thanks for being around to explain it all and make it easy to understand. Lucky you’re around, Cohenite.

  15. Nerblnob

    They will slowly become more expensive if left to normal demands, other solutions come to the fore automatically.

    The thing is – they haven’t.

    What has happened instead is that more sources of useable oil & gas have been found and developed.

    This is probably why the shills confidently crowing about Peak Oil a few years ago are in panic mode and demanding bans.

    Old oil industry saying: “the best cure for high oil prices is high oil prices”.

    Overall though, I agree with Lomborg, or cohenite’s summary of Lomborg, accurate or not:
    Even if you agree totally with CAGW, there is no net benefit to the world in banning coal and hydrocarbons and following the crazy energy policies exemplified by Australia and Germany (and many others of course).

  16. Herodotus

    Patrick Moore favours the continued use of hydrocarbon fuels and sees no downside to CO2 even at increased levels. He’s one of many sceptical – no, totally convinced that it’s a scam – scientists who whenever they look like getting some prime time exposure are labelled as nuts or in the pay of big fossil.

  17. Lomborg has always said that he believes in climate change and than man does have some impact, but he has also said that we shouldn’t be spending money on trying to control this change but on adapting.

    He also believes, or believed, that we should always use the most cost efficient sources of power because it brings economic prosperity and huge benefits to mankind’s.

    He’s hated by the Greens and questioned by sceptics because one side feels that he’s betrayed them and the other isn’t sure where he stands.

    Not being able to read the Oz, I wonder if his comments have been correctly reported?

  18. Iampeter

    his “Copenhagen Consensus” calls for a $100 billion year spending on R&D to resolve this non-problem.

    This.

    Guys like Lomborg get the science as badly wrong as the alarmists and concede their key arguments, they then proceed to call for the exact same waste of wealth on an issue even high school physics students should know enough to laugh at. Basically he is doing the same thing as the alarmists are doing.

  19. Rafe Champion

    We can take from Lomborg what makes sense and reject what does not.
    He was correctly reported, thanks to Alan, I wanted to say something about the good and bad points in Lomborg. The bottom line is that we might as well do nothing about so-called mitigation. We can reject his views on the downside of warming (where he is inconsistent) and we can laugh his suggestion about more R&D out of court.
    Taking up the point about not using the language of the enemy, the term carbon pollution should be illegal, perhaps under a clause 18d to some Act or other to provide for offenders to be put in stocks at the most convenient Farmers Market and pelted with leftover produce at the end of the day.

  20. Tel

    Lomborg’s point is simple: even if you believe in globall warming and that you can control it on any cost/benefit analysis it is better to do nothing.

    https://contrakrugman.com/ep-144-how-to-answer-climate-alarmists-read-their-own-reports/

    Bob Murphy did a reasonable job of covering the economics of doing nothing, based on the IPCC predictions and best available economic data.

    So far so good, but he goes on to repeat a refrain he has used for the past decade – his “Copenhagen Consensus” calls for a $100 billion year spending on R&D to resolve this non-problem.

    I propose a consensus that we all deserve a pay rise. Who’s with me? Hey, the right opinions don’t come cheap ya know!

  21. Iampeter

    We can take from Lomborg what makes sense and reject what does not.

    I don’t think we can. I think HE and those like him are the actual villains on this issue today.

    When someone comes along suggesting the absurd ideas about how our atmosphere works that the alarmists have done, then they should be laughed out of the room and that’s the end. Instead a whole bunch of Lomborgs came along, agreed with them on the fundamentals and have helped perpetuate this issue for decades causing incalculable damage.

    Contrary to popular belief, evil doesn’t triumph because good men do nothing, it triumphs because good men agree with it on the fundamentals, which they probably don’t understand any better than the evil and then proceed to have faux debates with it, while giving it oxygen it should never have had.

  22. Lomborg did nothing wrong.

    There may be a benefit to CO2 pollution, say the opening up of the Northwest Passage, higher agricultural growth rates and less energy costs.

    It would be hard saying there are no forcings at all from CO2 and warming from CO2 forcings are beneficial.

  23. Many so called sceptics open up their gambit by claiming “yes I accept that the planet has warmed since the little ice age etc etc” yet they have ZERO evidence that the planet has done any such thing.
    Just like the alarmists claims are NOT backed up with solid data, sceptics claims that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and that the climate is sensitive to it have NO evidence whatsoever.

    Once upon a time we were told that climate is the accumulation of weather over 30-35 years. This AGW scam has been going on for over 35 years now, yet there isn’t A SINGLE FVCKING LOCATION ON THIS PLANET THAT HAS HAD ITS CLIMATE CHANGE, and certainly not a single location that has had its climate change due to man’s emissions of CO2.

    AGW is a UN scam designed to control energy use, suck vasts sums of money from developed nations, and personally enrich the scam artists. The Montreal protocol which was about the Ozone Layer scam was the trial run and template.
    Sceptics who “accept” the science that CO2 warms the atmosphere, even though there isn’t a shred of credible evidence, are just as guilty in perpetuating this scam as the scammers themselves.

  24. Pauly

    Of course Lomborg’s conclusion is that his preferred projects deserve funding.

    The prime criteria for measuring academic performance now is how much funding you can attract. So of course any soul trapped in academia is going to conclude that they need more funding.

    It’s a hit like how partners in law firns are hot meadured by their win/loss rate but on how many clients they bring to the firm.

    On this point I think it is unfair to criticize Lomborg because he is rationally responding to the rewards within the environment he is operating in. If you want to criticize the system that’s fine, but a different issue to how an individual responds to the rules of the system he or she is in.

  25. Kneel

    “Guys like Lomborg get the science as badly wrong as the alarmists and concede their key arguments, they then proceed to call for the exact same waste of wealth on an issue even high school physics students should know enough to laugh at.”

    Be realistic – what happens if you say “AGW is crap”; well, ask TA.
    The point is, what Lomborg is doing is saying “OK, I am not an atmospheric scientist, I don’t have the ability to find out for myself if it’s true, but let’s assume that it IS real – what is the best use of our money? If we are going to “fight” it, what weapons do we have, how much do they cost and what damage do they do to the enemy?”
    He makes logical conclusions from the available data that indicate that the current course (subsidies etc) benefits less people now and in the future than spending the same $ on sanitation, clean drinking water and so on.
    And also makes the point that it is NOT people with no time and no money who want to “fix” the environment, it is those who have benefited the most from fossil fuel use and who now do have the spare time and money to “campaign” about it. If you need more “campaigners”, then you need more rich people! If you want more rich people to campaign, don’t tax their wealth away by making them pay a sin tax on energy usage, and most especially don’t “invest” in “solutions” that not only don’t fix the problem, they actually make it worse!

    Nothing wrong with any of that, is there?

  26. Iampeter

    Be realistic – what happens if you say “AGW is crap”

    Sure but how do you think it got to this point? It’s because people like Lomborg ceded the key issue to the alarmists.

    Nothing wrong with any of that, is there?”

    Lomborg and others like him have helped the alarmists win this issue. Don’t be fooled by his moderate position on the non-essentials. On the key issue, which is around the basic idea that CO2 warms anything, he has completely surrendered.

    Bad arguments are worse than no arguments and help your opponents win, so I would say EVERYTHING is wrong with Lomborg’s position.

  27. Nerblnob

    The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Attacking your allies for lack of ideological purity is Monty Python stupidity.

    The point is to stop the economic interference and destruction, not get drawn down a rabbit-hole of arguing about multiple possible scenarios from disputed projections of disputed data.

  28. Lomborg and others like him have helped the alarmists win this issue. Don’t be fooled by his moderate position on the non-essentials. On the key issue, which is around the basic idea that CO2 warms anything, he has completely surrendered.

    I am of the view that warming forcings are overstated very much so, but that warming is beneficial; it will not happen at the level which is detrimental, on top of this, catastrophic modelling is wrong. Furthermore, we have less control over this than we think. The record of natural history shows that the last 7,000 years has been uncharacteristically stable in terms of climate.

    We have little to no control to really stop chaotic climate let alone extreme conditions. Denying that there is a greenhouse gas effect at all is really dumb. It is dishonest.

    The fact that it self-limits is no reason to dumb down science.

    Mitigation probably cannot be done, it passes no CBA, it tramples on the rights of many and it is probably not desirable.

    To say that I’m out there helping spivs like Acciona to slurp up taxpayer funds is nonsense.

  29. Rafe Champion

    What Nerblnob said.
    His cost benefit approach is a stake through the heart of the war on CO2 whatever he thinks about the driver of warming.

  30. Iampeter

    Human life is the good. The enemy of good is evil and evil is anything that is anti-life, like for example the environmentalist movement and anyone who helps it.

    Lomborg isn’t lacking ideological purity, he is on the alarmists side and has helped their cause to win.
    He is one of the enemy.

    Why engage in cost benefit analysis when there is no issue to analyze?

  31. Infidel Tiger

    Human life is the good. The enemy of good is evil and evil is anything that is anti-life, like for example the environmentalist movement and anyone who helps it.

    Do you think the same way about abortion?

  32. Iampeter

    Do you think the same way about abortion?

    Yes. I am pro-life which is why I am pro abortion.

    It’s funny you brought this up as I was just thinking that the abortion issue is exactly why you guys can’t see that Lomborg is not an ally and why conservatives generally can’t oppose the left on anything. You agree with them on a very fundamental level.

    Leftists like socialists, think that because someone needs healthcare or education or whatever then that means that someone has a right to healthcare or education or whatever and others should be forced to provide it.
    Leftists like environmentalists, see that the environment needs this or that and so they think that means that it has a right to this or that and others should be forced to provide it.
    And conservatives, like leftists, see that an embryo needs to be carried to term and so they think that means that it has a right to be carried to term and others should be forced to do so.

    Like all leftists you guys think that “needs” are “rights” and concede the essential issue.

    Until you guys untangle this mess you will always just be leftists and help advance their causes without even realizing you’re doing so.

  33. .

    Yes. I am pro-life which is why I am pro abortion.

    Peter.

    I am not the final arbiter of libertarian thought, but when you start to put me off, you’re probably doing something wrong.

    Give it a rest.

    You have got to remember I’m very much an enthusiastic libertarian who gets on people’s nerves.

    I have completely flogged you in this debate on climate, anthropology and economics, just stop trying too bloody hard. Your abortion shit is nowhere near as coherent nor clever as you wish it to be.

    You’re wrong. You have not even bothered to respond to me because you don’t want a whipping sans-culottes.

    Stop.

  34. Infidel Tiger

    You’re a very strange person Iampeter.

    I can only hope you are a parody account.

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