Bjorn Lomborg has a change of heartPosted: 08/31/2010
Apparently, the world’s most prominent climate change skeptic, statistician Bjorn Lomborg, changed his mind, and now believes that Global Warming is a viable threat that deserves an annual investment of tens of billions of dollars. Apparently, it is “one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and “a challenge humanity must confront.”
While Lomborg has a new book out, and sales will undoubtedly be helped by this change of heart, this is still a moment to consider. After all, the Republican strategy to prevent environmental reform, as laid out by strategist Frank Lutz in 2002, is to sow doubt about the scientific consensus about global warming. In fact, Charles and David Koch, owners (and oil barons) of Koch Industries, collectively known as Kochtopus due to their unmatched spending to help sow that doubt, are the face of that effort. Americans For Prosperity is their lovechild.
Lomborg’s reversal isn’t a huge game changer itself, but after the recent vindications of Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, the IPCC, and IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri, it appears that the Climate Gate and other Koch-funded efforts to sow doubt about Global Warming, are, to quote Shakespeare, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
However, after speaking with a couple of right-wing lobbyists this weekend, I understand anew that some folks consider attacking climate science a bonafide calling, and in their minds, are convinced of global conspiracy. Typically these types of people are surfaced whenever they start rambling about Al Gore. No scientist, or amount of reason, will be able to convince them otherwise.
In related news, Canada just banned bisphenol A (BPA) by declaring it toxic. Scientific American linked it to cancer, genital defects, obesity, and ADD. However, The American Chemistry Council continues to defend the use of BPA. In the United States, the FDA raised concern about BPA, but remains unwilling to regulate its use. Lets see, what is the common link here? Oh yes, industry is spending money to prevent limits to their behavior.
Finally, a new study identifies 39 more coal ash dumpsites that are polluting drinking water with arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals. The EPA is holding hearings this week. However, the electric power industry is fighting national regulations. I suppose they would rather take their chances with conservative state governments in Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, whose residents will have to deal with the lead and arsenic. Coal may look cheap, but its externalities are enormous.
Unfortunately, the prospects of a Republican takeover of Congress mean that the obfuscation will only increase.
UPDATE: The Washington Post had an excellent editorial today on the subject of attacks on climate science:
“EARLY THIS YEAR, climate-change skeptics went on the attack, pointing to two molehills of scandal that they claimed were towering peaks of scientific malfeasance. One was “Climategate,” in which skeptics used highly selective excerpts of stolen e-mails in an effort to discredit some well-known scientists. The other was the identification of errors in the last assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the canon of the international consensus on global warming — particularly a dubious prediction that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. Investigation after investigation has since shown that neither episode undermined the basic science of climate change or the credibility of climate scientists. On Monday, the scientists were vindicated again, twice… So the overblown critique of climate science that emerged early this year continues to underwhelm.”
- Bjørn Lomborg: $100bn a year needed to fight climate change (guardian.co.uk)