The ecotard media – led, naturally enough, by the Guardian
– has been making great play of “Skeptical Environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg’s apparent Damascene conversion. Where once Lomborg was a card-carrying evil climate-change denier he is now an ardent worshipper at the Church of Al Gore, supposedly.
This is a great story – and works, provided you haven’t read a word of Bjorn Lomborg and don’t know anything about his views or his background. If you do, it looks very much like a pathetic little spoiler designed to distract attention from the IAC’s reasonably damning report on the IPCC.
Lomborg is not and never has been anything other than a Warmist. Which is to say – as I wrote when I interviewed him for the Spectator
two years ago – “his views on global warming are broadly in sympathy with those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” But I suppose “Danish statistician still believes in Man Made Global Warming, as he has done for ages” doesn’t make quite such a good Guardian headline.
Why then is he so vilified by so many greens? Mainly because, by 2001 standards – which was when The Skeptical Environmentalist was first published in English – his views were such daring, mould-breaking stuff. At the time Lomborg was a professor of statistics in Denmark and one day he set his students a task. They would analyse the work of the right-leaning US economist Julian Simon – and “prove” that he had manipulated and distorted his statistical data in order to make his spurious and thoroughly evil right wing case that the world was in fact getting better environmentally not worse.
During his life Simon had long been a thorn in the side of green doom mongers, such as Paul Ehrlich (with whom he once won a famous bet). He was known as the “Doom Slayer” because of the rigorous way in which he proved, using proper actual facts (something as we know greens hate as vampires loathe garlic) that the Neo-Malthusian view that the world is going to hell in a handcart and that it’s all man’s fault was in fact almost entirely wrong.
Much to his surprise, Lomborg – a gay, left-leaning Greenpeace member – discovered that Simon hadn’t twisted the data at all. The people who HAD twisted the data, he was shocked to discover, were all those worthy, caring nature loving organisations he had hitherto admired – people like the activists at Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. The truth hurt and Lomborg was made to suffer for it: tried by kangaroo courts of eco-fascists; splatted in the face with a custard pie by green activist Mark Lynas; the victim of countless ad hominem assaults in the green-dominated media.
But at no stage throughout this period did Lomborg become a climate change sceptic. Perhaps on the principle of not fighting your war on too many fronts, perhaps because he actually believed it, Lomborg cleaved to the notion that the IPCC was a reasonable reliable, authoritative source of information on the state of scientific knowledge on climate change. His line on AGW has never been that it doesn’t exist. Rather, he has always argued, that for the amount of state spending needed to implement the Kyoto Protocol, you could achieve many more useful things – such as ensuring that every person in the world has access to clean drinking water.
Lomborg’s latest proposal for the creation of a $100 billion climate change fund is hardly a major divergence from his longstanding position: that Western nations should do more, much more, to alleviate third world poverty and suffering. My suspicion is that he is dressing up his international call-to-arms as a “climate change” issue as much as anything because he knows that that’s where most of the funding is and that this is where his best chance of success lies.
But I don’t think any climate sceptic anywhere in the world is going to be gnashing his teeth, slapping his forehead or tearing his hair out in frustration at Lomborg’s announcement. We like the guy, we respect him for the fine work he has done – especially in the early stages of the debate, but we don’t consider him a role model. If Lomborg wants to advocate swingeing carbon taxes, more wasteful expenditure and the expansion of the state, well that’s his look out – and more or less what you’d expect of a leftist Dane. It’s his problem, though, not ours.