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WashPost recycles another denier WSJ op-ed, this time from coal apologist Bjorn Lomborg. Funny how two new senior Post editors came from the WSJ.

By Joe Romm  

"WashPost recycles another denier WSJ op-ed, this time from coal apologist Bjorn Lomborg. Funny how two new senior Post editors came from the WSJ."

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Questions of the Day:  Is this just a desperate attempt by The Washington Post to drive traffic to its website, by publishing outrageous crap designed to stir controversy?  Is it just a coincidence that Marcus Brauchli, the Post’s new executive editor (as of September 2008), had been the WSJ’s editor, and that Raju Narisetti, who was named a managing editor at the Post in January, had been a deputy managing editor at the WSJ?  You can ask the Post Ombudsman, Andy Alexander, for his answer by e-mail at ombudsman@washpost.com or by phone at 202-334-7582.

Garbage

Fred Hiatt keeps delivering self-inflicted body blows to the dwindling reputation of the Washington Post editorial page — see Editorial page editor Hiatt just recycled a right-wing WSJ op-ed by Reagan’s chief economist Martin Feldstein. It’s d©j  vu all over again today, but now with a Lomborg op-ed as the piece of recycled garbage.

Just last month, the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page ran a disinformation-filled piece from Lomborg (debunked here, “The Bjorn Irrelevancy: Duke dean disses Danish delayer“).  It had  lines like:

… agreements to reduce carbon emissions are costly, politically arduous and ultimately ineffective….

But his research demonstrates the futility of trying to use carbon cuts to keep temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)….

Hiatt, who  is as zealously anti-environmental as he is pro-recycling, apparently feels that Lomborg’s lies aren’t getting a fair enough hearing in the media, so he runs a piece titled, “Costly Carbon Cuts” with lines like:

… many politicians are vowing to make carbon cuts designed to keep expected temperature rises under 3.6 degrees (2.0 Celsius). Yet it is nearly impossible for these promises to be fulfilled.

Now you’re probably saying to yourself, wait a minute, Joe, Hiatt’s version of Lomborg’s piece is completely different than the WSJ‘s because he forced Lomborg to put temperature in Fahrenheit with Celsius in parentheses like a real American editor, not the reverse, like those world-government, Europhile types at the WSJ ed board.  But I digress.

Lomborg has done the denier two-step with Hiatt — going straight from denying the problem to saying it’s hopeless to even try to solve.  And I’m sure future generations, if no one else, will note that if we don’t keep total warming below 3.6 F or 2 C, it will be because of people like Lomborg and Hiatt who are devoting all of their efforts to convincing opinionmakers that it can’t and shouldn’t be done!!

I’m not going to waste time debunking Lomborg yet again [see "Lomborg skewers the facts, again" and "Debunking Lomborg "” Part III and "Voodoo Economists 4: The idiocy of crowds or, rather, the idiocy of (crowded) debates"].  But I’m happy to feature the work of guest debunkers (see “Lomborg’s main argument has collapsed).”  And you can read a good critique by Grist‘s Miles Grant of what the Post and Lomborg have done here.

But I will acknowledge there is something in this piece that I haven’t seen before — Lomborg’s (non)apology for coal:

Today, coal accounts for almost half of the planet’s electricity supply, including half the power consumed in the United States. It keeps hospitals and core infrastructure running, provides warmth and light in winter, and makes lifesaving air conditioning available in summer. In China and India, where coal accounts for more than 80 percent of power generation, it has helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

There is no doubt that coal is causing environmental damage that we need to stop. But a clumsy, radical halt to our coal use — which is what promises of drastic carbon cuts actually require — would mean depriving billions of people of a path to prosperity.

No need to have any discussion whatsoever of climate impacts, say that pesky 6,700-page report by world leaders concludes that climate change means “billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse.”

And certainly Hiatt would never require Lomborg to explain that the international deal they are trying so hard to kill doesn’t require “drastic carbon cuts” for the developing world and certainly doesn’t require a “radical halt” to their coal use — or that both China and India have announced their intention to restrict the growth of carbon emissions and aggressively pursue clean energy.

This isn’t about the truth — and it’s not about exercising editorial judgment that Lomborg deserves some of the most precious space in the media world, the op-ed page of the Washington Post.  No, it’s strictly about generating attention — for the faux environmentalist Lomborg and the faux editor Hiatt.

Or perhaps the reason the Post is recycling the WSJ‘s garbage is that it’s now being run by the folks who used to run the Journal.

What do you think?

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25 Responses to WashPost recycles another denier WSJ op-ed, this time from coal apologist Bjorn Lomborg. Funny how two new senior Post editors came from the WSJ.

  1. ecostew says:

    New report:

    http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=2216
    If greenhouse gas emissions are not cut soon, we could see major climate changes within our lifetime, or five decades earlier than previously predicted, says a British Met Office study being presented today at a conference at Oxford University.

    The report shows that an average global temperature rise of four degrees Celsius (7.2F), considered a dangerous tipping point, could happen by 2060 – but the warming up could be significantly higher (10 degrees or more) in some areas, causing droughts around the world, sea level rises and the collapse of important ecosystems, The Telegraph reports.

  2. Will says:

    (interns): http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/09/28/philippines.floods/index.html

    Story about record flooding in the Philippines.

    “Though the Philippines is no stranger to floods, Saturday’s downpours approached a record, with a month’s worth of rain falling within six hours.”

  3. TomG says:

    Let me get this straight…
    They think (I’m being generous with that “think” word) it’s impossible to keep us below the 2C increase, so it’s pointless to make an effort.
    But if we don’t make any kind of an effort we definitely will fail to stay below that 2C increase.
    So what happens at that 2C increase level?
    Runaway to 6C?
    Is this what they want?
    We’ve got to put the brakes on now.

  4. ken levenson says:

    but how about the great Krugman column?
    feels like he is practically cribbing from this site!
    perhaps next time he’ll fess-up. ;)

  5. paulm says:

    Cant disagree with this…

    Professor John Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said the US was “climate illiterate”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/us-climate-change-copenhagen-schnellnhuber

  6. paulm says:

    He added: “The US in a sense is climate illiterate. It is a deeper problem in the US, if you look at global polls about what the public knows about climate change. Even in Brazil and China, you have more people who know the problem, who think that deep cuts in emissions are needed.”

    He predicted that it could be several years before the US would be willing to take on carbon cuts that were ambitious enough to persuade countries such as China to set targets of their own. At UN talks last week, China and India made small steps forward on this issue, but Obama was unable to do the same.

  7. paulm says:

    Cant the rest of the world start boycotting American products over this issue of climate change?

    How about implementing visas?

    The US is the bad boy now and this is the most crucial issue the planet faces.

    Other countries should start to seriously consider some bullying here.

  8. Boudica says:

    Lomborg’s clairvoyance is so mindboggling you’d think he was descended from Nostradamus. But Nostradamus was a friend of mine, I knew Nostradamus, and Londborg is no Nostradamus.

  9. ecostew says:

    More on the Met Office report:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/news/latest/four-degrees.html

    In some areas warming could be significantly higher (10 degrees or more).

    * The Arctic could warm by up to 15.2 °C for a high-emissions scenario, enhanced by melting of snow and ice causing more of the Sun’s radiation to be absorbed.
    * For Africa, the western and southern regions are expected to experience both large warming (up to 10 °C) and drying.
    * Some land areas could warm by seven degrees or more.
    * Rainfall could decrease by 20% or more in some areas, although there is a spread in the magnitude of drying. All computer models indicate reductions in rainfall over western and southern Africa, Central America, the Mediterranean and parts of coastal Australia.
    * In other areas, such as India, rainfall could increase by 20% or more. Higher rainfall increases the risk of river flooding.

  10. Andrew says:

    So Lomborg is arguing that we shouldn’t have the political will to stop global warming because any efforts to stop global warming will not be backed by political will to stop global warming. It’s like the Blue Dog Dems saying “We can’t back health care reform because Blue Dogs aren’t backing health care reform.” Are ordinary citizens so illogical that they can’t recognize circular reasoning when they see it?

    And to top it off, he argues that we shouldn’t move away from coal because… today we get most of our energy from coal. What if 50 years ago people had said “50% of the world’s computing is done by vacuum tubes, therefore we shouldn’t embrace the microchip”? (Oh wait, they did).

    The definition of conservatism is the failure of imagination.

  11. Mike#22 says:

    In 2002, my take on Lomborg’s 2001 “The Skeptical Environmentalist” was it was just an intellectual stunt which dissolved upon examination. Lomborg likes the attention, likes thinking he is cleverer than you. I recall several sites that where just devoted to cataloging the errors, line by line. Here is one: http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/

    Yet Lomborg still has credibility in some quarters. Amazing.

    Yes, this looks like a ploy to get readership and advertisers. Glad I don’t read papers.

  12. AlexJ says:

    Ecostew, the Guardian picked that one up as well:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/met-office-study-global-warming
    So far the American media seems to have been pretty quiet about the report.

  13. Andrew says:

    Check it out: Exelon is leaving the Chamber of Commerce. Another company stands up for science!
    http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/09/28/out-the-door-exelon-leaves-chamber-of-commerce-over-climate-policy/

  14. Sable says:

    Michael Shermer (a noted skeptic of delusional thinking and silly beliefs) has an article on Huffington Post recycling Lomborg stuff, and standard delayer memes, like “it’ll cost too much to do anything”. Shermer is “skeptical” that warming will be as bad for the planet as many scientists think. I wonder which planet he’s talking about.

    I’ve read one of his books, and his work is fine reading for the purposes of developing BS detection skills, but he’s lost me here. He doesn’t seem to have a sense of the fragility of natural systems and our dependence on them. It’s the usual “it’s too risky to the economy to do anything” – so he denies any serious risk to a livable world.

  15. Erik says:

    @Ken Levenson(#4)- Krugman’s Column that posted today http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/opinion/28krugman.html is right on. And he has a memorable quote – that “the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don’t.”

  16. Mike#22 says:

    Slide shows from today’s presentations at the 4 Degrees and Beyond Climate Conference are here: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/4degrees/programme.php

  17. paulm says:

    I am feeling not just frustrated at ‘America’, but starting to feel angry.

    This emotion is starting to surface in the rest of the world.

    You US duds have to sort your house out quickly.

    Schellnhuber said: “Obama is aware of the problem and he personally wants to do something. The problem is: can he provide the leadership to overcome the system? Every top politician gets to do two or three unpopular things, and the right politicians choose the right things.”

  18. dhogaza says:

    but how about the great Krugman column?
    feels like he is practically cribbing from this site!

    If he had, he wouldn’t've confused CO2 for methane when talking of melting permafrost.

    Other than that gaffe (which I’m sure the denialsphere will seize on) it was a good piece.

  19. Steve Bloom says:

    Dhogaza, while it’s the methane component that does the most damage, IIRC melting permafrost emits a mix of methane and CO2, plus of course once in the atmosphere the methane oxidizes to CO2 rather quickly. In consequence we often see references to overall carbon emissions from permafrost (and note that Krugman used this term later in the very same sentence). So I think Krugman can be forgiven on this, although his fact-checker should be strung up. :)

  20. Bob says:

    Krugman is just wrong on this point:
    Partly it’s the fact that some predicted changes, like a decline in Arctic Sea ice, are happening much faster than expected.

    How can the decline be happening faster than predicted when this year’s minimum extent is 500,000 sq km greater than the minimum in 2008 and that minimum was 500,000 sq km greater than 2007?

    If this minor fact can be wrong, how can be sure any other fact is correct or reasonable?

    [JR: Learn the science and read this blog before posting here. The decline is happening at a rate decades faster than any climate model predicted -- and the VOLUME in particular is vanishing at a stunning rate.]

  21. walt says:

    Hey Joe,

    Speaking of garbage, what about the Briffa tree rings? Or lack thereof? And who the hell is Hanno? Don’t know? Don’t feel bad. Neither does UNEP.

  22. mike roddy says:

    This quote is from Deschamps, a French poet describing court life in the 14th century:

    “It was composed of hypocrisy, flattery, lying, paying and betraying; it was where calumny and cupidity reigned, common sense lacked, truth dared not appear, and where to survive one had to be deaf, blind, and dumb”. (quoted by Barbara Tuchman in 1979).

    Sound familiar? Just pencil in the Republican Party and their Blue Dog Democrat buddies. This, gentlemen, is what we have to deal with.

  23. Steve Bloom says:

    Oh yeah, a denialist bot running over from Climate Fraudit to shout that the chief auditor has once again overthrown the hockey stick, only this time even worse! I’m bored.

  24. ken levenson says:

    Bob,
    In antarctica the pine island ice sheets are melting hudreds of years ahead of what was thought possible just a few years ago. It couldn’t be much worse.

  25. Hmpf says:

    Completely beside the point, I know, but I’m curious: why is Hans Joachim Schellnhuber so often called John Schellnhuber in the English and American media? It’s true that the English equivalent of the name ‘Hans’ is ‘John’, but other people’s names aren’t anglicized by the media, or at least I haven’t noticed…

    Also: it’s not just the American media that fail to report on things like the latest British Met Office report. The German media so far seem to ignore it, too – as they have most of the other recent Really Bad News.