False alarm How climate change panic costs us trillions, hurts the poor, and fails to fix the planet

Bjørn Lomborg, 1965-

Book - 2020

This book will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong--and points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all.

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New York : Basic Books 2020.
Main Author
Bjørn Lomborg, 1965- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
vi, 307 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 249-292) and index.
  • Why do we get climate change so wrong?
  • Measuring the future
  • A fuller story on climate change
  • Extreme weather or extreme exaggeration?
  • What is global warming going to cost us?
  • You can't fix climate change
  • Why the Green Revolution isn't here yet
  • Why the Paris Agreement is failing
  • Pick a path : which future is best?
  • How climate policy hurts the poor
  • Carbon tax : the market-based solution
  • Innovation : what is needed most
  • Adaptation : simple but effective
  • Geoengineering : a backup plan
  • Prosperity : the other climate policy we need
  • Conclusion : how to make the world a better place.
Review by Choice Review

Although he admits that "there is a great deal we don't know about climate change, including whether or not it happens in a linear fashion," author Lomborg (Copenhagen Consensus Center) expresses few uncertainties about what climate change policies should entail. His book does not report new research but instead lays out a conservative agenda for addressing climate change. Nonetheless, Lomborg is by no means a climate change denier, even as he makes his case for a restrained response. He argues his positions well from an economic perspective, documenting his assertions extensively. And he is right in saying that some writings on climate change are alarmist, beyond what the data might support. Still, this book has significant weaknesses. Perhaps the most damaging is its very misleading title: the problem with addressing climate change is not that governments have overreacted with unnecessarily restrictive or costly programs but rather that they have not responded adequately, even if readers accept Lomborg's optimistic assumptions. Lomborg cherry-picks from the literature and brings in the innovation trope as a deus ex machina to support the technologies he favors. A better, more well-written book is Joseph Romm's Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, now in its second edition (1st ed., CH, Oct'16, 54-0684). Summing Up: Optional. All readers. --Robert E. O'Connor, National Science Foundation

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Danish statistician and political scientist Lomborg (Cool It) brands climate change warnings as alarmist, and argues that a massive reduction in fossil fuels would exacerbate global poverty, in this detailed contrarian account. Lomborg insists that climate change isn't advancing as quickly as many people believe, and claims that technological innovations will allow humanity to adapt to rising sea levels and increased temperatures. He analyzes data from the UN and other climate organizations to argue that the links between global warming and natural disasters aren't as strong as some authorities believe, points out the limitations and high costs of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, and contends that the continued use of fossil fuels will eliminate "extreme poverty" by 2050. Instead of the standard renewable energy pursuits, Lomborg suggests that climate change can be effectively mitigated with a modest carbon tax that gradually increases over time, and with innovations in energy storage and geoengineering. While Lomborg is careful to back his cost-benefit analyses of climate policies with surveys and statistics, he overhypes the risks posed by the "extreme language" of environmentalists and fails to fully address the impact of climate change deniers on the debate. This is sure to spark controversy. (July)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Climate change is manageable, one analyst asserts. Prague-based Danish political scientist Lomborg, president of the think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center and visiting fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute, follows his previous critiques of climate change policy--e.g., Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (2007)--with a hard-hitting analysis of failing strategies for addressing what he acknowledges is "a real problem." He believes that "apocalyptic narratives," echoing past panics about overpopulation, mass famine, and toxins, are hyped by the media and actually misrepresent evidence both of climate threats and the efficacy of solutions such as solar and wind technology, electric cars, and individuals' efforts to limit energy use. Often citing U.N. climate and environmental studies, Lomborg argues that the prevalence of climate disasters such as flooding and wildfire is not increasing globally but rather the costs of damages that result from overbuilding are rising. The author's least convincing argument focuses on humanity's "remarkable ability for adaptation," which he says does not factor into climate change predictions. If global temperature will rise 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century without any human intervention--a figure he does not dispute--people will respond by buying air conditioners and setting up cooling centers for those who cannot afford them. Wheat farmers will look to other crops or grain varieties or move their farms north. Lomborg is a strong critic of the patchwork Paris Climate Agreement, which, he writes, "will cost a fortune to carry out and do almost no good." Other worldwide problems, including disease, hunger, and poverty, require urgent attention and could be mitigated by free trade, fighting early childhood malnutrition, and providing immunizations and access to contraception. Raising living standards globally, along with smart carbon taxes, geoengineering innovations, development of artificial meat, and increased fuel efficiency for planes can address climate change in the long run. A serious, debatable assessment of a controversial global issue. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.