Bjørn Lomborg’s mixed up short term logic

Another in a series brought to you by the military-installed & amazingly free sideways adjectives…

Bjørn Lomborg backtracks so quickly, he falls down quite a bit, in a mis-titled piece over at Project Syndicate. I say mis-titled because the secret in the title: Global Warming’s Dirty Secret turns out not to be Global Warming’s secret but the Kyoto agreement’s secret:

But nobody sees fit to reveal the agreement’s dirty little secret: it will do next to no good, and again at very high cost. According to one well-established and peer-reviewed model, the effect of the EU cutting emissions by 20% will postpone warming in 2100 by just two years, yet the cost will be about $90 billion annually. It will be costly, because Europe is a costly place to cut CO2, and it will be inconsequential, because the EU will account for only about 6% of all emissions in the twenty-first century. So the new treaty will be an even less efficient use of our resources than the old Kyoto Protocol.

So, if Mr. Lomborg wants to write a piece about Kyoto’s dirty little secret, great, perhaps he should. But if someone lies right in the title of a piece, why does he deserve any credibility at all?  But, his piece gets even worse as we dive a little deeper.

The Bjørn states:

Man-made climate change is, of course, real, and constitutes a serious problem. Yet the current cut-emissions-now-before-it-is-too-late mindset neglects the fact that the world has no sensible short-term solutions.

Ok, good start, he acknowledges that Global Warming is a very serious problem. But the statement “the world has no sensible short term solutions” has to be one of the most inane things ever said about Global Warming.  No one has ever said there were any “short-term” solutions.  Global Warming is a very long-term problem, and the solutions must be long term, not short term. This is a characteristic of the Global Warming problem that every thinking person who has made themselves minimally informed of the facts knows.

Some of the problems Mr Lomborg cites with the Kyoto agreement would be unintentionally hilarious, were the consequences of inaction not so grave:

Some countries, like the United States and Australia, chose to opt out of its stringent demands;

Yes, Bjorn, if a country is not part of an agreement, that agreement is unlikely to have an effect on those non-joining countries emissions. But isn’t that really an argument for Australia and US to join Kyoto?

It is important to learn from the past. We have often been promised dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions far into the future, only to see the promises vanish when we got there. In Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the West promised to stabilize emissions, but overshot by 12%. In Kyoto, we were promised a 7% reduction in world emissions, but will probably achieve only 0.4%. Of course, those promises were made by politicians who in all likelihood will no longer be in office when the time comes to fulfil them.

Ok I agree, we should make deeper cuts in carbon emissions. But, Mr. Lomborg, you’ve been getting all your speaking fees and notoriety from claiming we shouldn’t be making cuts in carbon emissions, so please tell me which is it?

But he does make one good point:

The EU’s new global warming agreement may help win elections for leaders faced with voters scared by the prospect of climate change. But it will do virtually no good, at high cost, and – as with many other lofty promises from the EU – it will carry a high probability of failure. Let us hope that the rest of the world will keep its cool and propose a better, cheaper, and more effective solution for the future.

Yes, if something is a half-measure let’s call it such. But, it is a start.

And the most important thing now is to start feeding information into the economy about how bad carbon emissions are. Then, it is quite likely that the cost of wind power will fall dramatically.

They way to feed information into the economy is through price signals. And those signals are created by agreements like Kyoto.  We have to build demand for non-polluting power right now, so that research occurs.  In case Mr. Lomborg hasn’t noticed it, companies research things when there is a market.  The quickest way to build market demand for clean energy is to make polluting energy very, very expensive.  Much of his reasoning regarding the cost of transforming the world’s economy does NOT make proper allowance for the decreasing cost of things as demand rises.  Nor does he ever acknowledge the non-trival chance that Global Warming could make the Earth uninhabitable.

But the time to start changing is now.

Bjørn Lomborg’s mixed up short term logic

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