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February 07, 2007

Bjorn Lomborg on Climate Change

An interesting and reasonable piece in The Guardian. Although I note that it's only in CiF, not in the actual paper. Nice line:

A 38.5cm rise in the ocean's levels is a problem, but by no means will it bring down civilisation. Last century sea levels rose by half that amount without most of us even noticing.

February 7, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink

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Comments

...without most of us even noticing...

Doesn't he mean 'most of us white, affluent Westerners?'. He needs to state his level of acceptable losses, doesn't he?

Tim adds: Difficult to find anyone at all, white, brown, red or yellow, who has seen anything much to do with rising sea levels over the past century.

Posted by: Justin | Feb 7, 2007 9:43:45 AM

"A 38.5cm rise in the ocean's levels is a problem"

Either Lomborg doesn't know that this central estimate exludes the 'known unknown' of future changes in ice flows, or he is deliberately misleading his readers. And you, apparently, are very easily misled.

"but by no means will it bring down civilisation".

True, Danish statisticians will probably be safe. But that is hardly the point.

"Last century sea levels rose by half that amount without most of us even noticing."

Apart from those who did notice. But Lomborg didnt' notice them noticing, so they don't matter. Oh and I'm amused to see that Lomborg thinks that a potentially catastrophic aspect of climate change happening more than twice as fast as it did before is hardly worthy of comment.

Posted by: Jim | Feb 7, 2007 10:02:10 AM

When Nobel Laureate economists weighed up how to achieve the most good for the world in a project called the Copenhagen Consensus, they found that focusing on HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and trade barriers should all be tackled long before we commit to any dramatic action on climate change.

An interesting point. If the most recent Oxfam advert is to be believed, 50,000 people die as a direct result of poverty each day (though who knows what criteria they're using to reach that figure).

Based on the figure, in the next century - as our sea levels rise, some places get chilly while others become uncomfortably warm - 1,825,000,000 people will die as a result of poverty. Does anyone predict a similar death toll as a result of global warming? If not, we should consider dealing with more immediate problems.

Posted by: sortapundit | Feb 7, 2007 11:33:55 AM

"Based on the figure [...] 1,825,000,000 people will die as a result of poverty. Does anyone predict a similar death toll as a result of global warming?"

I would imagine that very few people maintain that current levels of death through poverty will continue at a flat level for a century. Things are getting better; Oxfam just wishes to speed up that process.

Further, though I can't say I'm an expert on the impacts of global warming, I would imagine that the effects it could have on (say) farming in lesser developing countries could have a rather severe impact on them and their economies, prolonging that poverty, and potentially causing large losses of life.

More generally, I think you're simplifying matters a bit too much here.

Posted by: Alex Gregory | Feb 7, 2007 1:19:36 PM

Weeere doooomed! Dooomed, I tell ye!

I note that since the Thames embankment was originally made (100 years ago?), it has been found necessary to place a six inch plank of wood on top of it.

But where will we get a twelve inch plank in time for the next century?

Posted by: Dodgy Geezer | Feb 7, 2007 3:28:42 PM

More generally, I think you're simplifying matters a bit too much here.

OK, possibly... but, then, if the media are allowed to hype up the threat of global warming to the point at which the average man on the street believes the world could end tomorrow can you really begrudge me hyping up the effects of poverty?

Besides, I'll simply release a corrected figure of 100 million deaths in the early hours of tomorrow morning to little fanfare :)

Posted by: sortapundit | Feb 7, 2007 7:32:15 PM