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The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World [Hardcover]

Bjørn Lomborg
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)

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Product Description

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According to The Skeptical Environmentalist the hole in the Ozone Layer is healing. The Amazon has shrunk by only 14 per cent since the arrival of Man. Only 0.7 per cent of species will be driven to extinction over the next 50 years. Even the poorest humans are getting richer by the year. Things are not good enough; but they are far, far better than we have been taught to believe. Lomborg, a professor of statistics and a former Greenpeace member, reveals the complexity, confusion, and (rarely) misuse of data behind the current Litany of approaching environmental Armageddon. But this is not a comforting or reassuring read. Nor is it a bible for lackeys and do-nothings. Lomborg uses the same figures everyone else uses, from national governments to the Kyoto summit to Greenpeace. Rarely have the raw data been discussed in such detail: their history, how they are calculated, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Lomborg argues persuasively that our sense of approaching human and environmental disaster is an artefact of the valid work of modern scientific, environmental and media institutions. There is, he asserts, no one to blame for our growing sense of despair, but everything to learn. We must learn what real risks are, and what we can do about them. (Kyoto? A very bad idea...) We must prioritise. (30p on the organic basil? Or 30p to buy a child clean water in Sierra Leone?) There is, after all, room for manoeuvre; panic achieves nothing. This is our generation's Silent Spring: a book to rewrite the environmental agenda, and a must-buy for any parent who wonders what kind of world we are leaving for our children.--Simon Ings --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"This is one of the most valuable books on public policy - not merely on environmental policy - to have been written for the intelligent general reader in the past ten years. The Skeptical Environmentalist is a triumph."
The Economist

"... a superbly documented and readable book."
The Wall Street Journal

"... it is a surprise to meet someone who calls himself an environmentalist but who asserts that things are getting better ... Strange to say, the author of this happy thesis is not a steely-eyed economist at a conservative Washington think tank but a vegetarian, backpack-toting academic who was a member of Greenpeace for four years ... The primary target of the books, a substantial work of analysis with almost 3000 footnotes, are statements made by environemtal organizations like the Worldwatch Institute, the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace. He refers to the persistently gloomy fate from these groups as the Litany, a collection of statements that he argues are exaggerations or outright myths."
The New York Times

"The Skeptical Environmentalist should be read by every environmentalist, so that the appalling errors of fact the environmental movement has made in the past are not repeated. A brilliant and powerful book."
Matt Ridley, author of Genome

"Lomborg pulls off the remarkable feat of welding the techno-optimism of the Internet age with a lefty's concern for the fate of the planet."
Rolling Stone

"Bjørn Lomborg is an outstanding representative of the 'new breed' of political scientists - mathematically-skilled and computer-adept. In this book he shows himself also to be a hardheaded, empirically oriented analyst. Surveying a vast amount of data and taking account of a wide range of more and less informed opinion about environmental threats facing the planet, he comes to a balanced assessment of which ones are real and which are over-hyped. In vigorous and what needs not to be done about those turning out to be pseudo-problems."
Jack Hirshleifer, University of California, Los Angeles

"Bjørn Lomborg raises the important question whether the costs of remedying the damage caused by environmental pollution are higher than the costs of the pollution itself. The answer is by no means straightforward. He has written a pioneering book."
Richard Rosecrance, University of California, Los Angeles

"When Lomborg concludes that 'the loss of the world's rainforests, of fertile agricultural land, the ozone layer and of the climate balance are terrible' I agree. But we also need debate, and this book provides us with that in generous amounts, incl 2428 footnotes. If you, like I do, belong to the people who dare to think the world is making some progress, but always with mistakes to be corrected, this book makes important reading."
Lars Kristoferson, Secretary General, WWF Sweden

"... probably the most important book on the environment ever written."

"Lomborg is right on his points, that his critique of much green activism and its reporting in the media is just, and, above all, that where there is room for disagreement, Mr Lomborg invites and facilitates discussion, rather than seeking to silence it."
The Economist

Book Description

Challenges widely held beliefs that the environmental situation is getting worse and worse. Making use of the best available statistical information, Lomborg systematically examines a range of major environmental problems that feature prominently in global headline news. His arguments are presented in non-technical, accessible language and are carefully backed up by over 2500 footnotes allowing readers to check sources for themselves. The Skeptical Environmentalist offers readers a non-partisan stocktaking exercises that serves as a useful corrective to the more alarmist accounts favored by campaign groups and the media.

About the Author

Bjørn Lomborg is an Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark. He has published in international journals in the fields of game theory and computer simulations. He has given invited lectures on the subjects discussed in The Skeptical Environmentalist in leading universities in North America and Europe following the success of the original Danish edition which has had a significant impact on the terms of the environmental debate within Scandinavia.
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