Why is game theorist Bjorn Lomborg continually allowed a forum in our most respected newspapers to spout his anti-global warming claptrap? I understand why the Wall Street Journal prints him—he claims he’s an economist making a rational, economic argument against stringent regulation of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, and the Journal reveres economists, even phony ones.
Monday’s Washington Post, the most illiberal newspaper in the U.S. with a reputation for being liberal, featured Lomborg’s arguments on its Op-Ed page. Lomborg cites a study by an economist, Richard Tol, that purports to find that it will cost $46 trillion to avoid expected climate damage costing just $1.1 trillion. Apart from the fact that economists, unlike scientists, can find that just about anything will cost just about anything, the study hasn’t been published yet. So we can’t even check the methodology.
Lomborg insists that continued, nearly unregulated burning of fossil fuels must continue so that the world’s population can continue to enjoy the benefits of nearly unlimited energy from burning fossilized sunshine. Fossilized sunshine that, eventually, is going to run out. Lomborg concludes his essay: “To put it bluntly: Despite their good intentions, the activists, lobbyists and politicians making a last-ditch push for hugely expensive carbon-cut promises could easily end up doing hundreds of times more damage to the planet than coal ever could.”
This is arrant nonsense. It equates human well being with the health of the planet Earth. As we are going to discover in brutal fashion in coming decades as Earth’s environment degrades under the weight of human economic activity, human well being very much depends on the health of the Earth, but the planet couldn’t care less about human well being.
Lomborg is part of the climate change denial cabal that, I wrote recently, work to sow doubt and make up statistics. He’s not as over-the-top as Sen. James M. Imhofe (R-Okla.); in fact, he’s sweet reasonableness. His message is just as contemptible, though, and I don’t understand why he’s become the most respectable of a disrespectable lot.