Climate Progress is happy to introduce Eric Roston as a guest blogger. Eric is a former Time magazine writer and author of the forthcoming book, THE CARBON AGE: How Life’s Core Element Became Civilization’s Greatest Threat. You can read his full bio here. Eric is one of the people responsible for Time‘s great coverage on climate change over the years, and I first met him five years ago when TimeWarner was looking for help on becoming greener. Welcome, Eric!
Tim Flannery takes apart Danish statistician Bj¸rn Lomborg in yesterday’s Washington Post Book World. Flannery, whose The Weather Makers is one of the great popular works on climate science, rightfully lambastes Lomborg for cherry-picking climate research. He sees only areas of opportunity to help the world’s poor, dismissing the big picture.
Flannery is dead-wrong on two words in the last paragraph, in a sentence that reads, “On the surface, [Lomborg's book is] a cry from a compassionate conservative not to waste money on combating climate change when that money could be better spent helping the poor.” In fact, Lomborg is not a “compassionate conservative,” in the sense that the phrase was coined and would be understood by Washington Post readers.
Lomborg is liberal, even by Danish standards (although Danish standards have been moving to the right in the past several years). Still, a Scandanavian liberal of any sort still doesn’t fit very comfortably anywhere on the American political spectrum, and certainly not with those who call themselves “compassionate conservatives.”
If you look at Lomborg’s picture here, which runs with the review, you can divine some of this. His hair’s permanently mussed up and he’s wearing a cotton T-shirt with a border, his standard dress in interviews, the kind of T-shirt kids wore bearing rock-n-roll band iron-on decals in the 70s and early 80s. Lomborg is a smart, youthful and fun guy, whose enthusiasm for the tools of economics doesn’t make him conservative, but does make him an emblem of the wider, myopic view of climate change that establishment economists are stuck in. That a liberal Dane became a hero of the American right is one of the stranger paradoxes to emerge in the last decade.