Why you should read Bjorn Lomborg’s new book (but not follow his advice)

13 08 2007
bjorn lomborg cool it book cover

Chris Anderson on his Long Tail blog.

Lomborg doesn’t believe that climate change isn’t real and dangerous, he just argues that our policy debates on what to do about it are remarkably ill-formed because of exaggerated claims, bad (or non-existent) economic analysis and attention-getting anecdotalism.

My own position on all of this is one that I’ve come around to after much study and is exhibited in Wired’s editorial priorities: it’s time to put the debate over whether human-driven climate change is happening behind us and instead focus on technologies to decarbonize the economy. But climate change is only one of three strong reasons to do this. The others are:

Economics: Both the direct costs of oil and other carbon-based fuels, and the indirect cost of their “negative externalities” (pollution, etc) are only going to rise. That increases the economic return for alternatives, and shifting to those alternatives will allow the economy to grow more quickly over time.

Geopolitics: Propping up bad governments with oil revenues has a destabilizing effect on the world. Renewable sources are more broadly distributed around the world and will lead to more energy autonomy for most nations and less distortion of local and global politics due to the corrupting influence of too many natural resources in the hand of too few. (See Fareed Zakaria’s “The Future of Freedom” for more on this argument.)

More here

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