News & Politics

UPDATE: Climate Scientists Dispute Bjorn Lomborg's New York Post Op-Ed Pushing Back Against Climate Alarmism

Photo via Ben Wolf

Editor’s note: According to Science Feedback, Bjorn Lomborg misrepresented the scientific works he cites in his New York Post article about the possible benefits of climate change. This includes a study by Professor Qi Zhao and his colleagues published in The Lancet: 

“The Lancet study shows that the number of cold-related deaths has been decreasing over the past 20 years; however, the study didn’t investigate whether this decrease can be attributed to climate change or other factors,” writes Science Feedback. 

One of the co-authors of that study, Professor Antonio Gasparrini, also disputes Lomborg’s interpretation of the findings, as well as another article he published in The Lancet in 2015. 

“In the [2015] article, we computed both cold and heat-related deaths in a number of locations and countries, and indeed the former were much larger. However, the analysis focuses on the historical period and does not compute the differences in both cold and heat-related deaths in scenarios with and without climate change. That is, it provides no information on if the predicted decrease in cold-related deaths will offset the predicted increase in heat-related deaths,” Gasparrini told Science Feedback. 

Gasparrini and other professors Science Feedback spoke to predict that the increase in climate change-related deaths will soon far outweigh any possible benefits Lomborg discusses. 

Original article:

The UN issued a report on Monday that was music to the ears of climate hysterics. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the report a “code red for humanity,” and the other usual suspects weighed in with varying degrees of terror, outrage, and frenzied excitement.

Let’s face it: The end of the world is exciting. The idea of being alive when the world is in the process of dying is exhilarating. So you have to think that many of the scientists who write about the end of the world have to be secretly tickled pink.

The rest of us? Not so much. For us, we can rely on the common sense and logic of scientists like Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish climate skeptic who doesn’t fit the preconceived notions that climate hysterics have of skeptics.

Lomborg, like many skeptical scientists, believes the earth is, indeed, warming. Unlike some skeptics, Lomborg thinks that mankind’s industrial activity plays an unknown role in the temperature rise.

Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and was once head of the Danish government’s Environmental Assessment Institute (EAI) in Copenhagen. His 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, is considered the bible of skeptical climate scientists.

What makes Lomborg’s skepticism so unsettling for hysterics is that he cuts through the alarmism and BS to get at the truth of what the global warming mitigation strategies are all about. His most recent book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, set off a firestorm of criticism. Lomborg was called every vile name in the book. But his critics somehow failed to respond directly to his charges.

Now, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its Sixth Assessment Report, which summarizes all that’s known about climate change. Lomborg doesn’t think much of the effort. He penned an op-ed in the New York Post excoriating the scientific community for their exaggerated hysteria.

New York Post:

Fitting the apocalyptic narrative many have spun lately, the always-breathless Guardian literally summarized this scientific report as finding mankind “guilty as hell” of “climate crimes of humanity.” (Needless to say, the report never says any such things.)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the findings a “code red for humanity,” saying we can only avert catastrophe by acting in the next couple of months. Of course, the United Nations has a long history of claiming catastrophe is right around the corner: The first UN environment director claimed half a century ago that we had just 10 years left, and the then-head of the IPCC insisted in 2007 that we had just five years left.

Lomborg says that, unlike the media reaction to it, the report itself is “actually serious and sensible.” But the inevitable conclusion — that an increase in heat is necessarily bad — is challenged by Lomborg.

But it also highlights how much one-sided thinking takes place in the climate conversation. Since the heat dome in June, there has been a lot of writing about more heat deaths. And the IPCC confirms that climate change indeed has increased heatwaves. However, the report equally firmly, if virtually unacknowledged, tells us that global warming means “the frequency and intensity of cold extremes have decreased.”

This matters because globally, many more people die from cold than from heat. A new study in the highly respected journal Lancet shows that about half a million people die from heat per year, but 4.5 million people die from cold.

So, yes, global warming has cost an extra 116,000 heat deaths each year, but the flip side is that with fewer cold waves, there have been 283,000 fewer deaths from cold.

“You don’t hear this, but so far climate change saves 166,000 lives each year,” writes Lomborg.

But won’t global warming turn the world into a desert and starve us all?

One NASA study found that over a period of 35 years, climate change has added an area of green equivalent to twice the size of the continental United States. But don’t expect to read about this in any of the breathless articles on climate impact.

You can see what Lomborg’s argument is. There are two sides to the issue of climate change, and one side is being brutally and systematically suppressed. Lomborg advocates for a longer-term solution to the threat, as some short-term effects on the climate are beneficial. But the trillions of dollars that the West has spent so far and will spend in the future should perhaps be directed to developing economies rather than being wasted on useless climate mitigation efforts.

Related: Here Come the ‘Climate Lockdowns’