Bjorn Lomborg talks about climate change policy

Some people think that climate change is a disaster and we need to take drastic action now. Other people believe that it’s all in our minds and we should ignore the whole thing. I think there is a sensible middle ground that is being crowded out with all the shouting, and it is represented by the likes of Bjorn Lomborg and Pat Michaels (CATO scholar).

Lomborg and Michaels say that the globe is in a warming trend and that humans are contributing to this. However, instead of running around like a gaggle of headless chicken-littles, they ask that we have a careful look at the consequences and not jump into stupid policy.

In his most recent work, Lomborg has brought together a group of experts to look at the relative effectiveness of a range of policy options. The best options are climate engineering (specifically marine cloud whitening), new technology research and adapting to changes. The worst options were those aiming to directly reduce emissions.

Lomborg talks to Reason TV about his conclusions:

18 thoughts on “Bjorn Lomborg talks about climate change policy

  1. thanks John.

    And Reason also has a piece by the science writer there citing Nordhaus who estimated that the AGW cost to the US as a result of AGW was around $5 trillion while the cost of abatement was going to much , much higher. The obvious conclusion is to do nothing or do nothing that causes the long term GDP potential to fall in anyway as the compound cost over 100 is actually quite massive.

    I think the piece is related to the Lomborg piece.

    Yes there is a lot of running around like headless chooks. However I think most of it is self-absorbed behavior and external appearance to others (sucking up)


  2. And the ‘Libertarian International’ site has, for Sept 22, a look at the Arctic Ice cover, which has grown by another 500,000 square kilometers, though don’t expect to hear that on the news! Only bad news is worth mentioning.

  3. One very obvious low cost activity that governments everywhere should undertake is to revisit (and where appropriate amend) regulations relating to nuclear power to remove any and all unreasonable impediments to deployment of this technology.

  4. Jarrah:

    there are basically two ice cubes we need to worry about in terms of sea level rises. Everything else is minute in terms of concerns. They are:

    1. Greenland

    2. Antarctic.

    If these two places melted sea levels would rise 80 feet.

    Greenland’s ice is receding however at the present rate it would take around 14,000 years for it to go. Antarctic ice is basically stable and according to some reports has actually increased. Even if it hasn’t increased the melt rate would be around twice the Greenland melt.

    The arctic melt will not cause any sea level rise for obvious reasons… it’s sitting on sea water.

    So other than observational interest what’s the big huge concern with that melt?

  5. jc, just because at the current rate the melt would take 14,000 years, doesn’t mean that it will stay at that rate. The rate could very well increase (or decrease) dramatically. Try not to think in terms of linear functions, because climate systems tend to be largely non-linear and often chaotic (in the mathematical sense).

  6. Quite true Fermi, but I’m not sure it is appropriate to assume a drastic and unprecedented exponential increase in the rate of melting that flies in the face of a long geological history where higher temperatures have never managed to melt the Greenland or Antarctic ice.

    It’s possible, as is a new ice age.

    Even if you double the melting speed, or increase it by a factor of 10, it still leaves us with well over 1000 years… by which time we will have come up with a hundred and one new technologies that make this entire debate seem odd.

    The thing that concerns me is that the fear-mongering has been so successful that people actually put stock in these extremist scenarios.

    An analogy — it is as though a group has managed to build up a massive fear about the possible (even likely) chance that a giant meteorite is going to hit earth and kill half the population within 50 or 100 years. Panic! Panic! Quickly… give the government a trillion dollars, give up you car and turn off the air-conditioner.

    I’m not disagreeing with the science. What I disagree with is the out of proportion fear campaign. Fear is the life-blood of government and the major driver of bad public policy.

  7. I understand, Fermi. So tell me, what’s the melt rate expected to be with 550 parts per mill.

    Does that rate cause it to move down to 100 years from 14,000?

  8. I have no idea, I’m not a climatologist. Nor do I put stock in extremist, politically driven fear-mongering. By “change dramatically” I didn’t mean “change several orders of magnitude, therefore panic!”.

    As a scientific matter, I was just pointing out a flaw in your logic.

  9. A trillion dollars to avoid a meteor strike that will otherwise destroy the earth in 50 years time is probably a very good investment John. I propose that we blow it up with hydrogen bombs whilst it is still a long way off.

    Wasn’t there a movie staring Bruce Willis that outlined the details?

  10. There’s no flaw, Fermi. You’re just being pedantic. The working assumption was the IPPC model which by reasonable accounts puts the next 100 year warming up by 2 degrees.

  11. “So other than observational interest what’s the big huge concern with that melt?”

    I didn’t bring it up, Nuke did. I was just trying to show him where to get the (right) numbers for himself.

  12. Terje — what if the meteorite is no more likely that it ever has been, and all the fear is based on a film made by an ex-Vice President?

    Point taken Fermi. You’re quite right to point out the potential non-linearity and then it’s also right to note that it doesn’t really change the point that JC was making.

  13. Terje — what if the meteorite is no more likely that it ever has been, and all the fear is based on a film made by an ex-Vice President?

    I don’t care if it doesn’t exist. Blow it up anyway.

  14. I still don’t get it. Apart from see level going up abit are there any other actual hard science proven effects of what global warming will do?

  15. Global Warming had bad effects on Atlantis! We called them Ice Ages- they called them Normal times! And Lemuria didn’t do so well, either!

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