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Oh, those lobbyists..

By Tom Toles

Bjorn again

Bjorn Lomborg. Spare me. The media's favorite climate contrarian is back, if he ever went away, with yesterday's USA Today Earth Day Op-ed column.Let's start with the bottom line. Climate change needs to be dealt with. The politics of it range from terrible to impossible. Lomborg has used his voice and influence in a way that has made the difficult harder, and he ought to be profoundly embarrassed by what he is doing. History will judge this, and my prediction is that it will not judge him kindly.

He is very clever about it, too. Who knows, possibly even sincere. He says things that are really important, but consistently uses his arguments to muddy the water in a way that seems intrinsically calculated to trip up any forward momentum on climate legislation. That has certainly been the net effect of his participation in the debate. If he is hoping that warming will be mitigated by increasing cloudiness, he has contributed a veritable fog bank of arguments. This article, with its fraudulent setting of short-term concerns against long-term requirements, is all the evidence you need that he is uninterested in, or incapable of, understanding that the two things are not in some sort of essential opposition.

His argument veers from better air quality to fertilizer to cook stoves. He coyly implies that environmentalists are ignorant of past success, unconcerned about starvation, and trying to load the burden of carbon reduction onto the poor. This from someone who poses as a moderating voice. He says we need to wait for technological breakthroughs before we can make meaningful carbon reductions, without measuring that against the time we have to act, nor acknowledging how carbon caps and pricing encourage those very breakthroughs. Again, bottom line: he is making the difficult and necessary harder, and he should be absolutely ashamed. --Tom Toles


By Tom Toles  | April 22, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
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I'll beleve global warming is a problem when the people screaming about it the loudest begin acting practicing what they preach.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 25, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I think Mr. Toles has a point. Mr. Lomborg succeeds in pointing out some additional environmental problems (indoor air) as a way to somehow refute bigger issues that require bigger changes (like outdoor air). That outside conditions have in some ways improved since the 70's doesn't mean we are finished, and doesn't mean that other things aren't continuing to get worse (like carbon pollution). The very countries for whom he has decided to advocate that it is immoral for us to ask for reduced carbon emissions are the very ones least capable of dealing with the effects of climate change. And comparatively speaking, most of the developing world has little to cut back on compared to the US, which accounts for roughly 20% of all carbon emissions worldwide - more than the entire rest of the Americas combined. The only immorality would be to continue to pollute the rest of the world at our current levels. Russia, China, India, and Japan are the only other countries that emit the same magnitude of carbon emmissions as the US, and only China exceeds us narrowly. Those five countires account for over half of all global emissions. Cutbacks by those five countries would have a greater effect on carbon levels than anything the rest of the world could ever do. We make the biggest mess, we need to make the biggest effort to clean it up. This is acting responsibly. We always talk about being the world's leader - we should not be afraid to lead here. Lomborg is right about one thing: we should take meaningful steps to ensure that the future of the developing world will be powered by green energy. But that means we have to move first.

Posted by: erikpdumont | April 22, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Pulease! Mr. Tolls is a CARTOONIST !!
Not to be taken seriouosly!! Probably a BA in Art History - incapable of a credible discussion in "climate change" :-)

Posted by: thornegp2626 | April 22, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Lomborg makes some good points...that progress has been made. But it's like saying "300 planes may have crashed in the last year and claimed thousands of lives, but look at the thousands of other flights that flew without incident!" Imagine if this were true. Would we sit back and say, "Yeah, 300 planes ain't so bad!"?

We are eliminating species from this planet at a rate to dwarf any of the great distinctions of ages past. We are altering the climate in a way faster and more efficiently than nature has ever be able to, and painting a gloomy picture not just for ourselves, but countless other species in the process.

It's time for us to get off the "short-term gains" express, and realize that we need to start thinking for the Seventh Generation.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | April 22, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I guess being the numbskull lib that you are Tom, I can understand your reaction. Though, I must pose the question, "did we read the same article?"
My Lomborg has put forth what I view as one of the most reasoned and rational approaches to the "climate change" issue that I've yet heard. Your cliche'd reaction is so predictable and ludicrous, but clearly in tune with your cartoonist world view.
To listen to the extreme environmental activists, one would think that there has been virtually NO attention paid to, nor any ACTION regarding, environmental impact mitigation or regulation since the beginning of time. Mr. Lomborg's assertions are indeed correct; that there have been truly significant and profound improvements in conditions in many places, large and small. We should continue, of course... and we should strive to improve the improvements, and we ARE.
It is a shame that a moderate voice such as Mr. Lomborg's is basically shunned and riduculed, while the extremist, statist, socialist control freaks that have bastardized the noble aspects of the environmental movement continue to "get the press" to mislead and manipulate the gullable. Try a little openmindedness, you might actually learn something useful.

Posted by: Shrimper | April 22, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Tom, with all of the recent revelations about dummied numbers, hidden emails, rigged research, and the usual shrug of pro global warming "scientists" to get to the bottom of the sham that has been foisted upon us, just what type of legislation needs to be passed? Our water is cleaner, our air is cleaner, our cars emit more than 90% less pollutants than they did just a few years ago, factories spew far less into the air, and many "green" projects are in place. Haven't you hampered productivity enough for a while?

In the upside down world of the global warming crowd I spew "pollutants" into the air by exhaling! The gas that plants process and turn into oxygen is now a poison? Brilliant!

In spite of respected geniuses like Al Gore and Hilary Clinton declaring the debate to be over, there are huge holes in your "science". Man-made global warming is being used as a cudgel to control, restrict, and choke industry and citizens. Until the debate really is over and the hoaxes and lies from your side exposed, I suggest we hold off on any more punitive legislation and tax programs.

Posted by: LibsRFailures | April 22, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Re Bjorn Lomborg: My Danish friends think the US and UK (where Lomborg also plays well) is just amazing. Before the Economist "discovered" him, he was just a computer game designer.

Posted by: targhee42 | April 22, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Just curious-Does Martin Hertzberg have an argument? Is the Oregon Petition valid?

Posted by: dfirwin | April 22, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Global warmers only want to listen to their cries that the sky is falling. It is very impressive to see the volcano in Iceland. All of the gasses and ash going into the atmosphere. And how the earth's atmosphere absorbs it in a matter of days, and things get back to normal. So that Al Gore can get back in his private jet and go around saying that WE have too big of a carbon footprint.

Posted by: bobbo2 | April 22, 2010 3:45 AM | Report abuse

Bjorn Lomborg--never were truer words spoken.

Brings to mind Albert Brooks' monologue in Broadcast News about the devil.

"...He'll be attractive; he'll be nice and helpful; he'll get a job were he influences [many]...he'll never deliberately hurt a living thing. He'll just bit by little bit lower our standards where they're important...".

And nowhere are standards more critical, or the ushering in of compromise on those standards more liable to catastrophic effects.
The guy's a professional sophist, playing with other people's lives for fun and profit.

Posted by: doorworker | April 21, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I can only assume from reading this article that moderate and calm discussions between people with differing views regarding a very complicated and not very well known subject is unacceptable to Mr. Toles view of progress.

Posted by: BradG | April 21, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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