Danish political scientist and statistician Bjorn Lomborg, alternately hailed and cursed for claiming that efforts to reduce carbon emissions were not worth the money, now suggests that combatting climate change should be the top global priority. For years, Lomborg did not deny manmade climate change; he simply did not think it important enough, according to his calculations, to do anything about. Now he has come up with a new set of equations (and a new book) and is advocating that the world spend $100 billion a year to mitigate and deal with the results of carbon emissions.
“The point I’ve always been making,” he told the Guardian “is, it’s not the end of the world. That is why we should be measuring up to what everybody else says, which is we should be spending our money well.”
Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and other works, was never a climate change denier. He attracted a lot of publicity for suggesting in 2004 that fighting climate change would basically cost more than the benefit that would be attained, and that we’d be better off spending more money to cure HIV AIDS or other issues He has since come out with new calculations calling for massive investment in clean energy technology and exploration of the controversial practices of geoengineering, where natural phenomena are manipulated to reverse greenhouse gas effects.
Bjorn Lomborg has been controversial for years. A Lomborg debunking industry sprang up in the wake of his pronouncements, with websites, editorials and an entire book (Howard Friel and Thomas Lovejoy’s The Lomborg Deception) dedicated to exposing the faults in his logic and his research. Yet he was also acclaimed for his “practical” approaches to the calculations around human life and risk in tackling global issues. TIME magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, dubbing him the “Martin Luther of the environmental movement.” Even the left-leaning Guardian included him on their 2008 list of 50 people who could save the planet.”
The Guardian quoted Lomborg this week: “This is not about ‘we have all got to live with less, wear hair-shirts and cut our carbon emissions’. It’s about technologies, about realising there’s a vast array of solutions.” He is right about the need for a multitude of approaches. The truly complex issue of climate change will not respond to dogmatic, single solutions from anyone, skeptic or believer. We need to pull together — now — and consider a variety of ways to tackle the issue, both technological and behavioral, including investment in research, clean energy technologies, conservation, carbon taxes, and more. Let’s hope we can make room for anyone, even a latecomer convert, to the big tent of those honestly working for a better world.
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