The legacy of the confusion and misinformation spread by Bjorn Lomborg and Ruport Murduch’s Wall Street Journal is delay. In this case, it’s a potentially fatal delay in responding to a purely preventable, but nonetheless existential threat to modern civilization, a betrayal of “our children and future generations,” as Obama put it — JR.
Displaying his trademark doublethink, Bjorn Lomborg’s latest op-ed in the Wall Street Journal switches between recognizing the risks of climate change and rejecting the need for meaningful action in the near term. Lomborg incorporates misleading and discredited scientific information to justify dangerous delays in climate action.
In WSJ op-ed, Bjorn Lomborg urges delay with misleading stats
Bjorn Lomborg’s latest op-ed in the Wall Street Journal displays a brand of doublethink that has become his trademark. He switches between recognizing climate change and its risks, to rejecting the need for meaningful action in the near term. While he makes several sensible recommendations in this op-ed, he also incorporates misleading and discredited scientific information to justify dangerous delays in climate action.
Lomborg makes many statements that almost all climate scientists would agree with. These include:
- Investments in hurricane resilience should be increased due to projected increases in storm intensity.
- In the long run, the world needs to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
- Investments in renewable energy technology R&D should be dramatically increased.
However, Lomborg ends these common-sense recommendations with the conclusion that current investments in climate mitigation, including renewable energy subsidies, are wasteful. He uses a series of distracting and misleading statements about trends in extreme weather to minimize the risks we face and delay action.
- The Wall Street Journal has a long history of reporting on the impacts of climate and environmental threats in their news pages, but minimizing and discrediting the same threats in their editorial pages.
- In 2003, a Danish government committee found Lomborg guilty of scientific dishonesty. He was later cleared by a separate investigation, but he has been a controversial figure since.
Lomborg’s statements on wildfires, drought, hurricanes, and economics are all extremely misleading.
- On wildfires, Lomborg references only the number of global fires. Length of active wildfire season and total area burned are considered much more accurate metrics, and both have increased significantly along with global warming.
- On drought, Lomborg is right that some areas across the globe have become more severely droughted, while some have become less so. This is consistent with climate predictions: dry areas get drier while wet areas get wetter. Lomborg implies that these changes simply cancel each other out, and can thus be ignored. In fact they are often devastating due to crop losses in the droughted areas and flooding in the wetter areas.
- On hurricanes, Lomborg references Accumulated Cyclone Energy, which is still under debate as a way to measure overall hurricane activity. He also references a projected decline in damages as a percentage of GDP without stating that damages are increasing, just more slowly than GDP.
- On economics, Lomborg implies in his op-ed that the climate problem can be solved solely through investment in research and technology. While economists are divided on the role of subsidies, nearly all agree that a price on carbon is necessary to drive innovation and change (including Lomborg himself).
Straight from the scientists: