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The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World Hardcover – Sep 24 2001

3.5 out of 5 stars 281 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 540 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (Sept. 24 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521804477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521804479
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 4 x 24.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 281 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,495,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
....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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
I won't add much to the many notes here. This is a book that is important to read to get some perspective on the exaggerations and distortions fed to us and repeated uncritically by the mostly mindless press.
As Lomborg points out more than once in the book, there is real environmental work to do and there are real environmental decisions to be made, but there is so much noise and so much distortion by advocacy groups competing for money and others competing for publicity that it can be hard to get government to do what will really work instead of wasting needed money on foolish enterprises.
The "review" by the appropriately-named Mr. Fog is nothing more than a hatchet job by someone who helped launch the now-discredited Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty and who helped contribute to a lengthy book in Danish attacking Lomborg's. Lomborg's response to the book shows some of its inaccuracies and distortions and can be found on his web site <[...]
The policy stakes here are high. Even higher is the cost of the intellectual pollution offered by dishonest "activists" to the information level of some important pubilc debates. If a closer look isn't given to these issues, lives, health, and money will all be squandered.
Read Lomborg's book carefully. Check it against its critics and them against his rebuttals and all of them against what facts can be nailed down.
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Format: Paperback
It is true that Lomborg's book does contain some errors. And that is why I am giving it only 4 Stars. But Lomborg has freely admitted them; More importantly, however, these minor mistakes do not undermine his main conclusion that the Earth's Environment is improving, rather than declining. We have had predictions of mass famine in the 1960's too due to the growing world population but the subsequent Green Revolution boosted crop production and supported the increased population. My point here is that Scientists and Prognosticators cannot predict the future. Personally, I do think that we should do more to curb Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions and increase Fuel Economy Standards in both Canada and the US. Having a higher gas or electric bill tends to focus one's mind on buying energy saving devices, light bulbs, etc. Having said that, we should equally NOT Demonise individuals such as Bjorn Lomborg who argue that the Earth's Environment is gradually improving rather than going to hell in a hand basket. Rather we should rationally examine the scientific facts first and then form a conclusion as Lomborg attempts to do in his book.
Some critics of Dr. Lomborg have referred to the January 2003 report by the Danish Commitee on Scientific Dishonesty(DCSD) as essentially discrediting the entire basis of The Skeptical Environmentalist. But, in fact, many lay people have pointed out serious flaws in the Methadology of DCSD's conclusions and on its refusal to give Lomborg prior to the release of their critical report. The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has now(December 2003) intervened to harshly criticised the DCSD's methadology and to repudiated its findings on Lomborg's book. here. Among the points cited(cf.
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