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Friday, October 25, 2002 - 02:15 PM Permanent link for The Skeptical Environmentalist
The Skeptical Environmentalist

I read the Skeptical Environmentalist a few months ago.   Although I wasn't a full fledged blogger at that time, the book resonated enough that I was thinking about retroactively writing up a review and posting it here.   Luckily, before biting the bullet to author a review, I found this review in Reason Magazine.   Since it's Reason Mag, the political motivations are one of the first things tackled:

Modern environmentalism, born of the radical movements of the 1960s, has often made recourse to science to press its claims that the world is going to hell in a handbasket...Environmentalism is an ideology, very much like Marxism, which pretended to base its social critique on a "scientific" theory of economic relations. Like Marxists, environmentalists have had to force the facts to fit their theory.

The book is organized "reference style" with a few introductory chapters by Lomborg followed by 1-2 detailed chapters on each of the major environmental battle "crises" we face today.

For example, from the Reason review:

Since 1960, the average amount of food per person in the developing countries has increased by 38 percent, and although world population has doubled, the percentage of malnourished poor people has fallen globally from 35 percent to 18 percent, and will likely fall further over the next decade, to 12 percent. In real terms, food costs a third of what it did in the 1960s.

Or, one of my favorite topics, the Kyoto Protocol:

The best calculations show that adapting to global warming would cost $5 trillion over the next century. By comparison, substantially cutting back on fossil fuel emissions in the manner suggested by the Kyoto Protocol would cost between $107 and $274 trillion over the same period. (Keep in mind that the current yearly U.S. gross domestic product is $10 trillion.) Such costs would mean that people living in developing countries would lose over 75 percent of their expected increases in income over the next century.

Lomborg's message is that the Good News is that the Bad News was Wrong.   We have every reason to not only be proud of what our civilization has accomplished to date but also every reason to expect things to continue to get better

"The very message of the book," Lomborg concludes, is that "children born today -- in both the industrialized world and the developing countries -- will live longer and be healthier, they will get more food, a better education, a higher standard of living, more leisure time and far more possibilities -- without the global environment being destroyed. And that is a beautiful world."

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