Friday, 2 July 2010

There is only one Bjorn Lomborg

On Monday 28th June  BBC Panorama broadcast a documentary entitled "Whats UP With the Weather". A pun that will be not lost on climate geeks. To some extent it moved on the debate but only on carefully controlled terms dominated by the near certainties of anthropogenic climate change. There was nothing new in this programme except that towards the end  we were treated to a fleeting moment of the long overdue adaptation/mitigation debate. And for the skeptics the BBC called on, a man who needs no introduction : Bjorn Lomborg . One might ask  : Why does the BBC invite the climate skeptics to answer the question derived from their misplaced skepticism ?

The subtext here is AGW is happening but the same old faces are going to get in the way of any serious mitigation. It's a bit like asking the head of Philip Morris if he can reccomend a cure for cancer now.

What is so tragic is that the average TV audience's credentials are better than Lomborg's because he has been wrong for too long . Most people haven't had their knuckles rapped by a national scientific institution. Most people haven't been pretending to be climate scientists when their doctorate is political science - specifically, game theory . Most people do not have a website dedicated to their errors! Or a book dedicated to their deceipt !

Yet the BBC ask Lomborg to pontificate on the moral question of which is the worst cassandra .**
The BBC Trust's view is this : "The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus. But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC's role to close down this debate. Acceptance of a basic scientific consensus only sharpens the need for hawk-eyed scrutiny of the arguments surrounding both causation and solution." *

But Hengist McStone suggests BBC programme makers are conflating causation and solution . The point at which the Adaptation vs. Mitigation debate was reached is surely where Doctor Lomborg has to leave the stage. He has been given a platform on the BBC for at least as long as The Skeptical Environmentalist was first published by CUP. Since then the science has moved on considerably to present a more urgent and a more clear and a more catastrophic scenario.

* From SeeSaw to Wagon Wheel page 40

**Lomborg advocated a projection that sea level rises where predicted to be only thirty centimetres this century, it is the lowest figure this writer has ever heard , it was unchallenged . Further reading try Joe Romm or for a less confrontational view try the eminent and entertaining Doctor Michael Tobis


  1. IIRC Lomborg's degree is in political science, so presumably the statistics is of the sideline social science variety.

  2. Thanks Steve, Ive updated it. Yes IIRC there was some controversy about the publishers of Skeptical Environmentalist passing his social science off as science.

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