The Skeptical Environmentalist

From Academic Kids

The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World (TSE) (Danish: Verdens Sande Tilstand) is a controversial book by political scientist Bjørn Lomborg, which argues that claims made about global warming, overpopulation, declining energy resources, deforestation, species loss, water shortages, and a variety of other global environmental issues are exaggerations and unsupported by a proper analysis of the relevant data. It was first published in Danish in 1998, and the English edition was published as a peer-reviewed work in environmental economics by Cambridge University Press in 2001.

Compared to the body of environmentalist and anti-environmentalist books currently in publication, TSE stands out on two fronts:

  1. All-encompassing scope - it explicitly sets out to analyse all of the public's commonly held concerns about serious global problems with the environment;
  2. Huge international media coverage, with scientific media generally falling in the highly critical, and news media generally highly positive.
Contents

Overview

The Skeptical Environmentalist challenges many popular examples of serious environmentalist concerns by assembling and interpreting data from a large number of sources, and suggests that, by presenting false claims, environmentalists cause resources to be diverted to environmental issues, when those resources could be better spent elsewhere. It cites some 3,000 individual references from primary and secondary material. Much of its methodology and integrity have been subject to criticism from scientists who argue that Lomborg has distorted the various fields of research he covers. Support for the book (and criticism of its critics) has been staunch as well, notably, from respected news media, including The Economist and the New York Times.

Lomborg, a Danish Political Sciences Ph.D and former associate professor lecturing in statistics, has no formal training in environmental science. In numerous interviews, he ascribed his motivation for writing TSE to his personal convictions, making clear that he was a pro-environmentalist and a Greenpeace supporter (contrary to reports, not a "member", as Greenpeace does not have regular card-carrying membership). He has stated that he began his research as an attempt to counter what he saw as anti-ecological arguments by Julian Simon in an article in Wired, but changed his mind after starting to analyze the data. Lomborg describes the views he attributes to environmental campaigners as "the Litany", views which he also claims to have held, and his book purports to correct.

As a footnote, Lomborg's second book, Global Crises, Global Solutions (Oct. 2004; Cambridge University Press), of which he is the editor, is based on an academic project that he initiated and presided over called the Copenhagen Consensus. It also addresses global problems in a sweeping way, using data analysis and interpretation by a panel of well-known economists. It is also controversial.

The Litany and Lomborg's findings

"The Litany" comprises vary diverse areas where, Lomborg claims, overly pessimistic claims are made and as a result bad policies are implemented. He cites accepted mainstream sources, like the US government, UN agencies and the like. His preference is for global long-term data, as opposed to regional and short-term. The book is extensively footnoted.

The book is arranged around four major themes:

  1. Human prosperity from an economic and demographic point of view
  2. Human prosperity from an ecological point of view
  3. Pollution as a threat to human prosperity
  4. Future threats to human prosperity

Human prosperity from an economic and demographic point of view

Lomborg analyses three major themes: life expectancy, food and hunger, and prosperity. He finds that, contrarily what is often claimed, life expectancy and health levels have dramatically improved over the past centuries, even though several regions of the world remain threatened, in particular by AIDS. Similarly, he dismisses Thomas Malthuses theory that the increase in the world's population will lead to widespread hunger. Lomborg shows on the contrary that food is widespread and the world's daily intake of calories is increasing steadily. Indeed, technological improvements in agriculture should help humankind eradicate hunger. However, Lomborg notes that Africa in particular still produces too little food, an effect he attributes to the continent's dismal economic and political systems. Concerning prosperity, Lomborg argues that wealth, as measured by GDP/head, should not be the only criterion to judge prosperity. Lomborg points to improvements in education, safety, leisure, and ever more widespread access to consumer goods as signs that prosperity is increasing in most parts of the world.

Human prosperity from an ecological point of view

In this section, Lomborg looks at the world's natural resources. First, he analyses food again, this time from an ecological point of view. Again, he notices that most food products are not threatened by human prosperity. The exception, however, is fish, which continues to be depleted. As a partial solution, Lomborg presents fish farms, which propose a less disruptive impact on the world's oceans. Next, Lomborg looks at forests. He finds no indication of widespread deforestation, and notes that even the Amazon forest still retains more than 80% of its cover in 1978. Lomborg points out that deforestation is linked to poverty and poor economic conditions in the concerned countries, and proposes higher economic growth to tackle the problem of deforestation. Concerning energy, Lomborg notes that oil is not being depleted as fast as is claimed, and that improvements of technology will provide us with fossil fuels for a long time still. Lomborg also points out that many alternatives already exist, and that with time they will replace fossil fuels as ou energy source. Concerning other ressources, such as metals, Lomborg notes again that these are widely available and that we should not expect problems with these (with the exception of tantalum, which can however be replaced at reasonable prices). Water is another controversial topic. Lomborg notes that, contrarily to common thought, wars will probably not erupt because of water (one week of war with the Palestinians, for instance, would cost Israel more than five dessalination plants, according to an Israeli officer Lomborg quotes). He emphasizes the need for better water management, however, as water is distributed unequaly around the world.

Pollution as a threat to human prosperity

Lomborg looks at pollution from different angles. Concerning air pollution, Lomborg notes that it has steadily decreased in recent decades in rich countries. He finds that air pollution levels are highly linked to economic development, with moderately developed countries polluting most. Again, Lomborg argues that faster growth in emerging countries would help them reduce their air pollution levels. Concerning water pollution, Lomborg notes again that it is linked to economic development. He also notes that water pollution in major Western rivers have recovered quite fast after sewage systems became widespread. Concerning waste, Lomborg notes once again that fears are overblown, as the entire waste produced by the United States of America in the 21st century could fit into a square whose side would be 28 sq. km (i.e. 0.009 % of the total surface of the United States).

Future threats to human prosperity

Lomborg first looks at our fear of cancer, especially linked to chemicals such as pesticides. He again notes a vast exaggeration in public perception, as alcohol and coffee are the foods that create by far the greatest risk of cancer, as opposed to vegetables which have been sprayed with pesticides. Lomborg also criticises the exaggerated claims of a vertiginous decline in biodiversity, proposing a number of 0.7% of species extinct in 50 years (as compared to 50%, as claimed by some biologists). While this is still a problem, as Lomborg admits, it is not the catastrophe clamoured by some. Global warming is another very popular subject at the moment. Lomborg first criticises the models used by some scientists to evaluate global warming. Indeed, Lomborg argues that these models do not take enough into account future technological developments, and that some of them do not take into account that humankind can, through a number of measures such as taxation, still reduce global warming in the future. Lomborg agrees that most of the data points to an increase in temperature levels (though he doesn't believe the most extreme estimations), but disagrees on the measures proposed to counter global warming. He argues that the cost of cutting CO2 emissions have to be compared to other costs, such as fighting poverty and aiding poor countries. Lomborg also point out that there are not only costs to global warming, but also benefits, as large parts of Russia and Canada, for instance, could be put to agricultural use, which would benefit those countries. He therefore asks for a global cost-benefit analysis to be made before deciding on the best measures to take.

Conclusions

Lomborg concludes his book by once again reviewing the Litany, and noting that the real state of the world is much better than some Cassandras claim. According to Lomborg, this poses a problem, as it focuses public attention on relatively unimportant issues, while ignoring the important ones. This wastes resources that could be put to much better use in aiding poor countries overcoming their poverty (and thus solving their deforestation, water, hunger and pollution problems) or fighting diseases like AIDS. Also, investing in technologies to produce renewable energy would be a good use for our money. Lomborg thus urges us to look at the true problems of the world, since solving those will also solve the Litany.

Methodology

TSE examines a wide range of issues in the general area of environmental science, and comes to an equally comprehensive set of conclusions and suggestions (suggestions that in many instances could also be called recommendations). In arriving at the final work, Lomborg has used a similar approach in each of the main areas and subtopics. He works from the general to the specific, starting with a broad concern, such as pollution or energy, dividing it into subtopics (e.g. air pollution; fossil fuel depletion), then identifying one or more widely held fears and their source (e.g. our air is growing increasingly toxic, by X measure, according to Y). From there, he gathers a variety of data, which he considers to be the most reliable and reasonable available. He then analyzes that data to prove or disprove Y's proposition. In every case, he finds that Y's proposition is not substantiated by his calculations, and in fact is either significantly not as bad as represented, or in many cases the reverse (e.g. what is portrayed as a worsening situation is actually an apparently improving one). Having established what he calls "the true state of the world", for each topic and subtopic, Lomborg examines a variety of theories, technologies, implementation strategies and costs, and suggests alternative ways to improve not-so-dire situations, or to improve other similar areas that are currently not considered as pressing.

Due to the sheer scope of the project, comprising the range of topics addressed, the volume and diversity of data and sources employed, and the many types of conclusions and comments advanced, the methodology of TSE is rather a unique case when it comes to classifying and examining it from a conventional, rigorous scientific perspective. While published by the social sciences division of a highly respected academic publisher (Cambridge University Press), where it is categorized as environmental economics, TSE in fact does not fit easily into a particular scientific discipline or methodology. Much of the examination of the Litany is based on statistical data analysis, therefore it may be considered by some a work of statistical science. Because it examines the costs and benefits of its many topics, it could be considered an work in economics (as it is categorized by its publisher). However, TSE is far more methodically eclectic on cross-disciplinary, variously combining interpretation of data with assessments of the media and human behavior, evaluations of scientific theories, and many other approaches, to arrive at his various conclusions. Adding to the difficulty of categorizing the methodology, Lomborg is not a trained statistician (he has statistics training, but not at a level that would qualify him as a "statistician", e.g. no university degrees in statistics) and he is not a trained economist. He also has no training or professional experience in any of the environmental sciences or in any of the specific topics he covers. Therefore, while the content of TSE may be accurate, even groundbreaking, it does not fit conform to the existing academic framework of contemporary science. It is at least as easily classifiable as science-based investigative journalism (in-depth research and reporting on very specific, often technically complex, multifaceted topics by one not necessarily possessing direct experience in the subject being covered) as it is the product of a particular branch of science.

Praise

In spite of intense criticism in most of the scientific press, TSE generally received extremely positive reviews from the mainstream media, including:

  • The Economist – "This is one of the most valuable books on public policy - not merely environmental policy - to have been written for the intelligent general reader in the past ten years.... The Skeptical Environmentalist is a triumph."
  • New York Times – "The primary target of the book, a substantial work of analysis with almost 3,000 footnotes, are statements made by environmental organizations like the Worldwatch Institute, the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace."
  • Wall Street Journal – "...a superbly documented and readable book."
  • Washington Post – "Bjorn Lomborg's good news about the environment is bad news for Green ideologues. His richly informative, lucid book is now the place from which environmental policy decisions must be argued. In fact, The Skeptical Environmentalist is the most significant work on the environment since the appearance of its polar opposite, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, in 1962. It's a magnificent achievement."
  • Rolling Stone – "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."

The amount of TV, radio and press attention around the world was tremendous, and is perhaps best characterized by this statement (as excerpted in Lomborg/Cambridge University Press media clippings): [1] (http://www.lomborg.com/books.htm)

"The Skeptical Environmentalist marks a critical environmental moment.... We can forget those dreary old idols: Paul Ehrlich, Lester Brown with his Worldwatch Institute, Greenpeace and all the others. They have been exiled into the darkness. Eco-optimism can begin to rise over the Earth. After Lomborg, the environmental movement will begin to wither." – National Post

Given the timing of the English edition, which was published in August 2001, it has been suggested that the media coverage of TSE would have been considerably greater, had not the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US dominated the news media for several months.

Individual scientists, and some of the hardcore environmentalists whom the book is seen as attacking, have also supported Lomborg or aspects of TSE.

Criticism

Environmental groups as well as members of the scientific community have criticised the book for what they claim to be a selective use of statistics, and an incomplete understanding of the many areas and disciplines being covered. Essentially, they argue that Lomborg takes the most optimistic view on the environmental damage being caused by current human activity, and the most pessimistic view of the adjustment costs of changing to less environmentally-damaging technologies. Two related critical charges recur: that TSE discounts and ignores the importance of biodiversity and ecological connectedness (insofar as the effects of interconnectedness have not been quantified, they are ignored); and that TSE uses of global figures to define regional occurrences (e.g. the percentage of a rain forest destroyed as a percentage of global forest area, as opposed to the percentage of that forest itself).

Anti-publication pressures

While criticism of the book was to be expected, the publishers, Cambridge University Press, were apparently surprised by the pressure brought against them not to publish TSE. They felt it necessary to issue a formal, written statement, in order to "explain the editorial decisions that led not just to publishing the book but also to Cambridge's resistance to concerted pressure to withdraw it from the market."

In the article, entitled "Peer review, politics and pluralism", author Dr. Chris Harrison (Publishing Director of social science publishing for Cambridge University Press) noted that "many of the critical reviews of TSE went beyond the usual unpicking of a thesis and concentrated instead on the role of the publisher in publishing the book at all. The post tray and e-mail inbox of editors and senior managers at the press bore witness to a concerted campaign to persuade Cambridge to renounce the book." He went on to describe complaints from environmentalists who feared the book would be "abused by corporate interests".

The complaints of some critics included demands that Cambridge convene a special panel to review the book in order to identify errors (despite existing pre-publication peer review), that Cambridge transfer their publishing rights to a "non-scholarly publishing house" and that they review their own policies to prevent publication of books described as "essentially a political tract" in future.

With these complaints and the publication of a Scientific American issue dealing with the book (described below), Cambridge stated, in response to those who claimed the book lacked peer-review credentials, "it would be quite wrong to abandon an author who had satisfied the requirements of our peer-review system."

Cambridge took the additional step of inviting submissions of publishing proposals for book which offered an opposing argument to Lomborg's but noted that they had, to the best of Chris Harrison's knowledge, seen no attempt by any of the critics to submit such a proposal. This is seen by some to suggest that criticism of the book was political rather than scientific.

Subsequent to Cambridge's unequivocal assertion that TSE had been subject to peer-review, Harrison noted that "we were surprised and disappointed to see the critics' letter being quoted in an issue of Time magazine (2nd September 2002)... in which the authors repeated their charge that the book had not been peer-reviewed despite the assurances to the contrary that they had by then received by the press... It has become part of the anti-Lomborg folklore that this book bypassed the usual Cambridge peer-review process... This is a charge that is repeated in many of the public and private attacks in the press, and it is unfounded."

Dr. Harrison also noted that, anticipating the level of controversy a book like this would likely provoke, Cambridge took extra care with their peer-review process. For example, instead of choosing candidates from the usual list of social science referees, they chose from a list provided by their environmental science publishing program. Four were chosen: a climate scientist, an expert in biodiversity and sustainable development, a specialist on the economics of climate change (whose credentials include reviewing publications for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC)) and a "pure" economist. All four members of Cambridge's initial review panel agreed that the book should be published.

Criticism from scientific circles

The January 2002 issue of Scientific American contains, under the heading "Misleading Math about the Earth", a set of essays by several scientists, claiming that Lomborg and TSE misrepresent both scientific evidence and scientific opinion. The magazine refused Lomborg's request to write a point-by-point rebuttal in his own defence and, for this reason, has been criticized for failing to deal with the issue objectively.

Nature also published a harsh review of Lomborg's book. In it, Stuart Pimm of the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia University and Jeff Harvey of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology wrote: "the text employs the strategy of those who, for example, argue that gay men aren't dying of AIDS, that Jews weren't singled out by the Nazis for extermination, and so on."

Lomborg has published an annotated response to both articles and many others on his website. Later, Scientific American also printed a response to the rebuttal [2] (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00040A72-A95C-1CDA-B4A8809EC588EEDF&sc=I100322).

Other critics have questioned Lomberg's academic qualifications, and knowledge of the issues he discusses. For example, the Australian economist John Quiggin noted that Lomborg had not published any articles on environmental issues in peer-reviewed journals, and that Lomberg's only peer-reviewed paper prior to TSE is on game theory.

The World Resources Institute stated: "[Lomborg's] prior publications are in game theory and computer simulations. He has no professional training -- and has done no professional research -- in ecology, climate science, resource economics, environmental policy, or other fields covered by his new book. Lomborg says the book grew out of a class project for his students."[3] (http://pubs.wri.org/pubs_content_text.cfm?ContentID=697)

Lomborg has also been criticised (in, for example, a 2002 review in the UK journal Local Environment) for using straw man arguments, with charges that his Litany of environmental doom-mongering does not accurately represent the mainstream views of the contemporary green movement.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), referring to their own set of commissioned rebuttals, summarized: These separately written expert reviews unequivocally demonstrate that on closer inspection, Lomborg’s book is seriously flawed and fails to meet basic standards of credible scientific analysis. The authors note how Lomborg consistently misuses, misrepresents or misinterprets data to greatly underestimate rates of species extinction, ignore evidence that billions of people lack access to clean water and sanitation, and minimize the extent and impacts of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels and other human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases. Time and again, these experts find that Lomborg’s assertions and analyses are marred by flawed logic, inappropriate use of statistics and hidden value judgments. He uncritically and selectively cites literature -- often not peer-reviewed -- that supports his assertions, while ignoring or misinterpreting scientific evidence that does not. His consistently flawed use of scientific data is, in Peter Gleick’s words "unexpected and disturbing in a statistician". [4] (http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/archive/page.cfm?pageID=533)

The "separately written expert reviews" individually further detail the various expert opinions. Peter Gleick's review, for example, states "There is nothing original or unique in Lomborg's book. Many of his criticisms have appeared in... previous works -- and even in the work of environmental scientists themselves. What is new, perhaps, is the scope and variety of the errors he makes." Jerry Mahlman's review of the chapter he was asked to evaluate, states "I found some aspects of this chapter to be interesting, challenging, and logical. For example, the author's characterizations of the degree of difficulty in actually doing something meaningful about climate change through mitigation and coping/adaptation are perceptive and valuable. In principle, such characterizations could provide a foundation for more meaningful policy planning on this difficult problem. Unfortunately, the author's lack of rigor and consistency on these larger issues is likely to negate any real respect for his insights."

TSE as media construct

Another angle of critical attack focused as much on Lomborg as it did on the book, charging that TSE's prominence was due to the intense media coverage: had not the coverage been so great, neither would its impact. The controversial statements the book presents, and the fact that Lomborg offered a catchy public image - "[Lomborg] 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" - New York Times - made the package of contrarian book and hip author eminently media-ready.

One critical article, "The Skeptical Environmentalist: A Case Study in the Manufacture of News"[5] (http://www.csicop.org/scienceandmedia/environmentalist/), attributes this media success to its initial, influential supporters:

News of the pending book first appeared in the UK in early June of 2001 when a Sunday Times article by Nayab Chohan featured an advanced report of claims made by Lomborg that London's air was cleaner than at any time since 1585. Headlined "Cleanest London Air for 400 Years," the publicity hook was both local and timely, as the tail end of the article linked the book's questioning of the Kyoto climate change protocol to U.S. president George W. Bush's visit the same week to Europe, and Bush's controversial opposition to the treaty. The Times followed up the report the next day with a news article further detailing the book's Kyoto protocol angle.
With The Times reports, Lomborg and his claims had made the Anglo media agenda. As is typically the case, other media outlets followed the reporting of the elite newspaper. Articles pegging the claims of The Skeptical Environmentalist to Bush's European visit ran later that week in the U.K's The Express and Daily Telegraph, and Canada's Toronto Star."

Another influential UK news publication, The Economist, also weighed in at the start with heavy support, publishing an advance essay by Lomborg in which he detailed his Litany, and following up with a highly favorable review and supportive coverage of the critical controversy.

Formal charge of scientific dishonesty

Detailed coverage at Bjorn Lomborg/Complaint to DCSD

Several environmental scientists brought complaints against Lomborg before the social sciences committee of the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD), a body under the Danish Ministry of Research and Information Technology. This added fuel to the overall controversy surrounding TSE, and served as a rallying point for both supporters and critics of Lomborg and the book. In January 2003, the DCSD reached its decision, and also took the unusual step of releasing its working papers, which contained their various internal discussions. The conclusion was that Lomborg was not guilty of intentional scientific dishonesty, as he had no experience in the scientific areas concerned in the complaints. However, through the release of its notes, the DCSD made public that it did find TSE to be a matter of scientific dishonesty. Subsequently, Lomborg complained to the Ministry of Research and Information Technology, which found the DCSD's handling of the investigation to be improper, and ordered the DCSD to reconsider the case. The DCSD declined to reopen it, citing the fact that Lomborg had already been cleared in the first instance. Since that first investigation was invalidated by the Ministry, not reopening it amounted to the DCSD declining to proceed on the original complaints. The conclusions concerning TSE, never formally withdrawn by the DCSD, ceased to officially exist.

The "so damnably reasonable" critique

Some critics of TSE took issue, not with the statistical investigation of Lomborg's Litany, but with the suggestions and conclusions that the book based upon them. This line of criticism considered TSE as a contribution to the general environmental debate, and not as a scientific work. In a BBC column from August 23, 2001, veteran BBC environmental correspondent Alex Kirby wrote:

I am neither a statistician nor a scientist, and I lack the skill to judge Lomborg's reworkings of the statistics of conventional wisdom. But I am worried that on virtually every topic he touches, he reaches conclusions radically different from almost everybody else. That seems to suggest that most scientists are wrong, short-sighted, naïve, interested only in securing research funds, or deliberately dancing to the campaigners' tune. Most I know are honest, intelligent and competent. So it beggars belief to suppose that Professor Lomborg is the only one in step, every single time.[6] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1502076.stm)

Kirby's first concern was not with the extensive research and statistical analysis, but the conclusions drawn from them:

What really riles me about his book is that it is so damnably reasonable. In the rational world that Bjorn Lomborg thinks we all inhabit, we would manage problems sensibly, one by one...But the real world is messier, more unpredictable - and more impatient.

On September 5, 2001, at a TSE book reading in England, British environmentalist author Mark Lynas threw a cream pie in Lomborg's face. In a September 9, 2001, article, "Why I pied Lomborg", Lynas stated:

Lomborg specialises in presenting the reader with false choices - such as the assertion that money not spent on preventing climate change could be spent on bringing clean water to the developing world, thereby saving more lives per dollar of expenditure. Of course, in the real world, these are not the kind of choices we are faced with. Why not take the $60 billion from George Bush's stupid Son of Star Wars program and use that cash to save lives in Ethiopia? Because in a world where political choices are not made democratically at a global level, but by a small number of rich countries and corporations, the poor and the environment are never going to be a priority.[7] (http://schema-root.org/people/political/activists/environment/individuals/mark_lynas/)

The December 12, 2001 issue of Grist, a popular online environmental magazine, devoted an issue to TSE, with a series of essays from various scientists challenging individual sections. A separate article examining the book's overall approach took issue with the framing of Lomborg's conclusions:

Lomborg begins by making the entirely reasonable point that accurate information is critical to informed decision-making. If information is skewed to paint a bleaker environmental picture than is justified by reality, as he claims, then we will in turn skew our limited resources in favor of the environment and away from other important causes. ... Then Lomborg proceeds to weigh the causes championed by the environmental movement against a deliberately circumscribed universe of other possible "good causes." It is up to us, he says, to make responsible decisions about whether to protect the environment or "boost Medicaid, increase funding to the arts, or cut taxes. ... The worse they can make this state appear, the easier it is for them to convince us we need to spend more money on the environment rather on hospitals, kindergartens, etc." A few pages later he again claims that the purpose of the Litany is to cause us to prioritize the environment over "hospitals, child day care, etc." ... But who is really failing to consider how our money is spent? As Lomborg notes, "We will never have enough money," and therefore, "Prioritization is absolutely essential." Why, then, does he weigh the environment only against hospitals and childcare, rather than against, say, industry subsidies and defense spending?[8] (http://grist.org/advice/books/2001/12/12/infamous/index.html)

Addressing the apparent difficulty of anti-TSE scientists in criticizing the book strictly on the basis of statistics and challenging the conclusions about areas of environmental sciences that were drawn from them, Lynas contends:

One of the biggest problems facing the environmental community in analyzing Lomborg’s book is that his work, as flawed as it is, has clearly been very time-consuming and meticulous. In a busy and under funded world, few people have the time or background knowledge to plow though 3,000 footnotes checking his sources. It is impressively interdisciplinary.

Longer-term impact of TSE

The Skeptical Environmentalist became a high-profile international bestseller. In 2005, the fourth year following its English-language publication, an informal survey of publicly accessible online sources indicates that TSE continues to be highly controversial. However, there is no obvious evidence of it having a major public impact on the Litany of environmental issues, and in spite of intent of the author to "provide the best possible information about how things have progressed and are likely to develop in the future" and "leave to the individual reader the political judgement as to where we should focus our efforts", TSE currently appears on the reading list of a variety of university courses as recommended or required reading on subjects as diverse as biodiversity and eco-terrorism.

References

  • Bjørn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, Cambridge University Press 2001, ISBN 0521010683
  • Stuart Pimm and Jeff Harvey: "No need to worry about the future". Nature vol. 414, November 8, 2001
  • Stephen Schneider, John P. Holdren, John Bongaarts, Thomas Lovejoy: "Misleading Math about the Earth". Scientific American, January 2002
  • Julian Simon article in Wired magazine (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html)

External links

Reviews of the book

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