1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2013
In our politically correct world, where special interests work so hard to manipulate us to match their thinking, we need more and more balance. This book does not debunk or preach, it gives a grounded alternate view of environmental reality. Strip away the retoric of various groups, and you will see what really needs to be done. If we viewed the world with this sane and rational approach, we would make much more headway.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2004
This book shows concern for the earth's environment, but at the same time refutes catastrophic ecological events and processes. It's clear that both sides (environmentalists vs. everyone else) have their own agendas, which is why they argue their viewpoints as they do. So many biases based on innumerable experiences, ideologies, faiths, etc. come into play when discussing environmental issues that any debate is futile unless certain standards are set. In my view, this book is used best for studying the data provided, and making a conclusion based on your own educated reasoning - of course not until you have read the same data as interpreted by true blue 'environmentalists'. Data can be manipulated in countless ways to accommodate many viewpoints, so instead of looking at numbers in order to prove their point, I would say it's time to use some common sense, and perhaps some plain old human emotion to determine our environmental policy stances. The book itself is well written, interesting, and informative, but I wouldn't use it as a sole basis for determining an environmental viewpoint.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2004
I have read the (book-length) debates between the author and environmental scientists, and from that I've learned a tremendous amount about the extent of our knowledge of weather and ecosystems. The most informative debate is Lomborg's point-by-point rebuttal of criticism which appeared in Scientific American. (You can find all of this on the web.) In a nutshell, the scientists do not sound very scientific.
I think there is a reason for the disgust of many scientists. Lomborg attacks the evidence of several kinds of environmental catastrophe. The scientists, on the other hand, begin from a conservative point of view in their concern for the mere possibility of irreparable damage to the earth. They are obviously correct to realize that we cannot afford to lose the earth, and we should therefore be wary of any significant perturbation made by mankind.
I believe that the scientists get angry because Lomborg refutes their favorite arguments in favor of strict environmental policies, those which purport that a catastrophe has already begun. Lomborg, on the other hand, does not understand that the strongest argument is that we can always be wrong.
We cannot afford a mistake which destroys our only viable planet, which is why we must limit the global impact of our activities. But this is not the point addresed by either Lomborg or his critics.
Lomborg has done a significant service in pointing out some flaws and biases in scientific research, but you would learn more by following the debates than by reading this large, tendentious book.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2004
This excellent book illustrates that the world isn't on the verge of some "Day After Tommorrow" Apocalypse. If you need this proven to you, if you're skeptical of the skeptics, you should read this book w/ an open mind. Many environmentalists are sincere--however, many are members of a "secular" cult, reverse-evangelicals, who have a God (Mother Nature), a Devil (Man), prophets (Ehrlich, Nader), demons (Capitalists), a way of salvation (Green Socialism), and a nightmare Armageddon (when Nature takes her vengeance on man's greed). The former, the reasonable people should read this book, because they can be persuaded by Lomborg's most important thesis: that the solution to whatever environmental problems we face, will come from economic growth, not anti-industrialism, anti-globalization.
The Kyoto Treaty is not the solution, but would actually exacerbate the problem of Global Warming by restraining technological development and human employment. You want a worldwide Great Depression, put the Kyoto Treaty in practice, and then see if mankind has the collective resources to find alternative sources of fuel or, heck, build new air conditioners. Lomborg shows that as the economy grows, so does environmental problems like pollution reduce.
He also shows that the warming and cooling of the Earth is cyclical, possibly (or probably) tied to Sunspots. At the end of the Medieval Period, the earth was as warm as it is now (possibly warmer), and 1400-1900 the Earth was in a mini-Ice Age. London had worse pollution in 1700 than today. I guess you could say that the internal combustion engine is so metaphysically evil, so powerful, that it's vile emissions travelled back in time to warm the earth around 1300 and to pollute London in 1700. But more likely, the .6% increase in worldwide temperature since 1900 is the result of the workings of the solar system and not evil, vile technology.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2004
Outstanding analysis. Lomborg makes a point of using the same data sources (mainly the UN development agencies) that the rabid "don't confuse me with facts" environmentalists use. General complaints about Lomborg by fanatics are "uses discredited studies" and "picks and chooses data". The book has 2930 footnotes and the bibliography is 72 pages long, so how he left anything out boggles me. Lomborg gives the reader ALL the facts, and shows that our priorities should be based upon the data, not religious zealotry for environmental concerns.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2004
This is a terrific book that should be on the bookshelf of everybody that believes that reason is more powerful than passion or faith. Using detailed statistical analysis, the author essentially tears apart most of the arguments that environmentalists have been using to push their agenda on the rest of us. Reading this book, it became obvious to me that environmentalists for the most part, are *not* interested in the environment and in the health of the people on it (if they were, they would at least get their facts straight, and stop the constant barrage of misinformation that they constantly throw at us). They are indeed, more interested in their political agenda, a combination of fascism and socialism, because of course, "they know best".
Use this book as a fact finder. And then watch your so-called environmentalist friends squirm when you feed them the facts. Guaranteed, they will not have a response, and then eventually concede that the facts don't matter one way or another.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2004
A splendid read and well written, too.
The message: Capitalism provides the best environment.
If you hear that all libertarians want to "sail the seas," listen again because you probably heard the maxim that all libertarians want to "sell the seas."
Libertarian environmentalists use the following phrases in a sincere positive manner: sell the oceans, sell the seas, sell the gulf, sell the lakes, sell the rivers, sell the parks, sell the Everglades.
As a contender for the honorific title of "Top Libertarian Environmentalist," I spend a lot of time writing about libertarian environmentalism and how to speak to environmentalists. There is a lot of material available on the internet from that point of view, and this book provides superb help, too.
"We love manatee!" Libertarians quip, "They taste just like chicken." But the reasoning of free market environmentalism shines.
Cuba, eastern Europe, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, The Peoples' Republic of China and other socialist messes have demonstrated that the Malthusian theory is manifested only in socialist economies. The book gives many insights as to why.
As the free market environmentalist Rex Curry said "Socialism is an environmental disaster."
The color of a healthy environment and the color of money are the same. Mother Nature is a capitalist. Capitalists are the true greens.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2004
I focused on the section on Global Warming. Lomberg agrees that the Earth is warming (politicians, please take note). There are many graphs and notes to back up a thoughtful discussion of the costs of global warming and the costs of preventing it. This type of analysis is indeed the foundation for determining what to do. Lomberg concludes we are better off letting the Earth warm but admits a lot of Bangladeshis will die in severe weather. And Danes may get a bit more tan.
The level of detail is dazzling but the book does not attempt to address what the actual costs are for prevention. It therefore did not convince me it's impossible for the developed world to change its behaviors without damaging the economic future.
To my way of business thinking, spending less on fossil fuel per GDP dollar and inventing devices to allow others to do the same is going to be a economic benefit, not a cost. Having been asked by President Bush to take it on faith that adopting the Kyoto Protocol would harm our economy, I had hoped to find some proof in this book. I did not, but would still recommend it for its richness in data. And be sure to note what kind of science Mr. Lomborg teaches.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2004
....that Scientific American and The Star Chamber (Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty) piled on Lomborg with polemic statements and petty arguments against The Skeptical Environmentalist. I have a physics degree and currently study politics with a stastistical approach, and I appreciate the effort Lomborg put into his comprehensive survey so that we now have a dispassionate reference of the state of the environment.
Read Lomborg's careful rebuttle to Scientific American on the web, and watch him debate a Berkeley professor of Ecological Studies on PBS's Uncommon Knowledge (where you can view 25 minutes on several topics -- just enter Lomborg's name in the web site serach engine). Lomborg doesn't simply win the debate but utterly smashes these scientists' feeble arguments, all while gracefully taking their cheap shots. To some extent the lopsidedness is funny, but deeper down it is disturbing. I still have respesct for science in general although worry when many prominent scientists have inexcusable lapses in reasoning. But then again, Lomborg has one clear advantage over many scientists he debates: He understands basic economics and benefit/cost analysis while too many bright scientists obviously do not.
Long live science, but live longer the intelligent skeptics.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2004
Poverty, infectious diseases, hunger and pollution are serious problems for the humanity. The good news is that all these problems are getting smaller and smaller all the time. The problems have become extraordinary smaller during the last century, and are likely to get even smaller during the next one. That is one of Bjorn Lomborg's messages in this highly controversial book. He is attacking a lot of high-flying pessimist like Lester Brown, Al Gore and UN's climate panel (IPCC), and has therefore been portrayed as a liar, amongst them the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (before the ministry cancelled their verdict). Their official reason is that the book is one-sided and contains some (a lot of) factual mistakes. My oh my. As he writes himself: the intention is to correct the usual picture painted by the environmental movement and the media, and that must necessarily mean a bias. And the book certainly is biased, but the trouble is that Lomborg is biased the political incorrect way. That there are some factual flaws shouldn't surprise anyone, because the book is so full of facts. However, with his 3000 footnotes and 70 pages of references, the facts are very easy to check.
I was planning to give this book four stars, but after checking the some of the allegations other reviewers have posted on their sites, I changed my mind. Lomborg is one place attacked for 'deliberately not' having rounded 174,600 into 175,000 hectares, meaning Lomborg have given the number far to much credibility (Lomborg's footnote number 78). At another point, Lomborg is attacking the IPCC for having a hidden agenda. He accuses the panel's 2001 report for being concerned about consumption in general, and comes up with a lot of fantastic quotations, like "it's doubtful that this trend (of higher speed in transportation) really enhances the quality of life". I couldn't really believe this, but yes, it was true. The IPCC, which I until yesterday believed consisted of natural scientist, has used a lot of their latest report to mourn about how the TV are fooling us to believe that consumption is the road to happiness. The IPCC! The revelation of the UN priorities stunned me a bit really.
The book is highly recommended. It's a thorough investigation into the all of humanities greatest concerns, and a highly usable reference. If you doubt any of the claims Lomborg makes you could always check out the primary source.