Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eban Goodstein Hot Air

In the article by Eban Goodstein, "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalists Guide to Global Warming" by Bjorn Lomborg is evaluated closely. Lomborg has the attitude that global warming won't be that bad and by acting to reduce global warming pollution, we would slow economic growth. Goodstein states that Lomborg believes the Earth won't warm up more than 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit, that trying to "clean up" is too costly, and that $25 billion per year in clean energy technology should be spent to slow global warming slightly. This temperature change is a large enough change to affect a lot of environments. What if our planted warmed more than 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit? The IPCC suggests the Earth could warm up to 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit more. This is more than twice Lomborg's prediction.
Lomborg focuses mainly on a benefit-cost analysis that overlooks other aspects. The moderately warmer climate he predicts would ultimately affect the poor in the global South. These temperature changes could cause permafrost in the Arctic to melt, releasing methane, or if the Amazon dries too much and burns, billions of tons of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere.

More action to reduce these risks need to be taken so future generations don't suffer the consequences. Reducing emissions may actually help economic growth and increase global energy efficiency. Lomborg doesn't necessarily pay close attention to long term climate changes and damages. Clean energy technologies are important in cutting global warming pollution. One decade could reduce pollution between 10-20 percent. New investments could provide future generations with clean energy technologies, stable jobs and climate, and an overall sustainable future for Earth.


  1. I agree with Angie. While working harder to reduce carbon emissions may be costly to begin with, we must look at the long term effects. It could create new jobs and would be beneficial to the planet. It is also important to set a precedent. The action needs to start somewhere, and if we start working to be more sustainable, future generations will be more likely to keep it up.

  2. There is a lot of money that has been spent and much more that needs to be to address the issue of global warming. It is often difficult to justify spending large amounts of money on things that might happen when there are a lot of awful things that are happening right now. Lomborg does not disagree that there must be some plan made to address global warming but it is the way the he minimizes the reports that ticks off Goodstein. But is that enough of a justification to not address other global issues? Although I don’t necessarily agree with the “economic” path that Lomborg uses, I do believe that he does have a point. Decisions could be made to spread the wealth, addressing many global issues but those are often put aside because it is “those people” that are affected by those issues not us. If the world’s upper/middle socioeconomic populations were effected by poverty, illnesses and starvation it would be easy to justify spending billions of dollars to addresses it regardless of how long it would take to “fix” it. The problems or issues that are critical to those of lower socioeconomic status continue to receive limited coverage and low funding. This would appear that their challenges or issues are not really “global” issue after all. When we speak about the expense of regulating emissions is it appropriate to expect countries to comply when they already can’t afford to care for or feed their people? Goodstein is pretty critical of the tactics that Lomborg uses and he states that the slower GDP growth would sacrifice little if any happiness but whose happiness is he speaking of, the half of the world’s population that is already living below poverty level or “our descendants” living in the much richer world. He makes no comment about the challenges such as HIV, AIDS, and TB that are faced by the populations that Lomborg speaks of. Stabilization of emissions is important, how we decided to do it is critical for everyone (human and beast) but making the decision to not address other issues further separates the people we need to get on board to make the change that will inevitably affect us all.

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  4. What I find quite ridiculous is the premise behind Lomborg's comment that "we do the future a disservice because we say, 'Hey, we fixed climate change but we let all the other things slide.'" As it has been amply noted, the issues we face are not black-and-white, nor can our approaches to solving them be black-and-white. Obama has been making the case (and he just did it again at the press conference earlier) that job creation and a cleaner environment are strongly correlated. I agree with him. We can incorporate the environment into other issues, such as fixing the economy or building new schools or revamping our healthcare system.

    I'm not going to disagree with Lomborg on spending a little money on research and development. But we do know about a lot of things that can be done with that money instead that will have a better impact, such as switching to renewable energy (over time, of course) and helping auto companies make more fuel-efficient cars in a cost-effective manner.

    And as gumshoe said, "Even if you think global warming is hogwash, there are sound reasons not to pollute." People's health is on the line. If pollution didn't kill the environment, it can still kill some people and make others so sick that our health care costs continue to skyrocket.

  5. A. Turner said, "It is often difficult to justify spending large amounts of money on things that might happen when there are a lot of awful things that are happening right now."

    I completely agree. I also believe that working on problems that have a better chance of being solved in the near-future seems to be more appealing because we want to see results now, not later.

    I agree with Lomborg when he says that doing too much is not necessarily a good thing. Focusing so much time/energy/money on one thing is a perfect way to neglect other things. That's not to say I don't believe climate change isn't worthy of our undevided attention, I just know that it is unrealistic and dangerous for us to think we can focus solely on one issue.

  6. Lomborgs article Cool it says that science tells us that Global Warming is a problem but it is not a catastrophe. Lomborg is not trying to say its a hoax, but that there are more important thing to invest money in that are affecting large populations now. I somewhat agree with him on his example about windmills in Denmark. he says that before they put up alot of the first ones that turned out to be inefficient more money should have been invested in research and development. I think one of his points is that it is easier to come up with cost effective solutions to other problems such as malaria, because most of the solutions to Climate change cause other problems and mostly need to be researched.

    I agree with Angie when she says that reducing emmisions could help econiomic growth and create jobs, and that we need to do something now to make sure future generations dont suffer as many consequences even though there will definetly be some. I think that one thing Lomborg overlooks is that climate change effects all earths systems and living things not just humans.