120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever Title
What you are getting from this review is a non-scientific analysis of the book, and a summation of the contents. While I taught a year or two of High School Biology in Cheatham County, TN, that probably isn't going to qualify me to sit on the International Global Warming Council anytime soon. I'll try and avoid the observation that it still probably makes me more...
Published on October 29, 2007 by Amazon Customer
105 of 146 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable? Possibly. Perfect? Hardly.
Since this review is neither sycophantic nor a hatchet job, I should add the disclaimer that I am neither a Christian conservative nor a green liberal. I am in favor of reason and science, and opposed to faith in all forms--including the environmentalist movement.
It's interesting that every reviewer thus far gives this book either the highest or lowest...
Published on September 10, 2007 by Ash Ryan
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120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever Title,
What you are getting from this review is a non-scientific analysis of the book, and a summation of the contents. While I taught a year or two of High School Biology in Cheatham County, TN, that probably isn't going to qualify me to sit on the International Global Warming Council anytime soon. I'll try and avoid the observation that it still probably makes me more qualified than a lot of people suddenly making careers out of Global Warming.
The book was not what I expected. I kind of thought, based on the controversy it had generated, that it would be a global warming denial book espousing the glories of capitalism and a desire to turn North America into the new Sahara. Well it is nothing of the sort. The book, whether you agree with the science or not, never argues that global warming is happening nor even that it results to varying degrees from human produced co2. What is argued is that there has become a political, and even hysterical component that has insinuated itself so in the discussion that it has overwhelmed all other argument. Any attempt at debate is met with howls that those bringing up objections are evil incarnate and should be fired, imprisoned, etc. It is an interesting debate technique, and nice work if you can get it, but I'm not sure it's an accepted debating format.
For all the balance the book brings, it probably won't warm hearts on either side. The need for redistribution of wealth is a recurring theme, and his arguments against Kyoto, etc, are more that they are an inefficient means to accomplish this goal, not that they are idealogically mistaken. Much of his analysis also relies heavily on the projection that the next 100 years will produce great wealth across the board. This strikes me as speculative, but then again what about the whole issue is not?
The book is extremely well documented, footnotes comprising almost as much volume as the treatise itself. And treatise might be the word, much is repeated and reiterated, and it has the feel of a lengthy article that was expanded to meet book-length requirements. It doesn't suffer too badly in spite of this, as the author writes pretty well and so much of the material is so outside media template information that it probably requires several presentations of the same facts.
All in all it struck me as balanced, well written, and very logical. One of his major points, that debate has been stifled unfairly, makes one reluctant to criticise for fear of proving his point, but be that as it may it seems a salient observation. It is a quick read, and I'd certainly recommend it as a work that cuts against the grain.
88 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific information and sensible proposals. Well worth reading.,
True believers won't like this book, but anyone who is willing to listen with an open mind and consider multiple points of view will find this book to be a breath of fresh air in the climate change / global warming clash. Bjorn Lomborg is a liberal, a vegetarian, an economist and a passionate environmentalist. Certainly, he is far left of me. He also is convinced that global warming is real, that mankind does have a role in creating it and making it worse, and that we do need to change the way we live in order to improve conditions for all life on the planet. So, why do I like him and find this book very much worth reading?
Because he is sensible in the arguments he makes. Rather than beating the drum of gloom and doom, he looks at the evidence, looks at what we can realistically do, and what it is we can do that will have the most effect. He also pokes holes in the overheated bag-of-wind arguments of the drowning polar bears (more die from hunting), the 20 foot sea rise (it is rising, but no more in the coming century than in the last), and the benefits of Kyoto (basically an attempted $16 trillion tax on the United States that would, after a century, delay global warming by a few years). And he nicely points out that the devastation in New Orleans was NOT because of global warming or because of the hurricane itself, but because of poorly maintained levees and destroyed wetlands that would have provided some protection. He is also right in pointing out that there has been NO increase in the violence of the storms. The critics will point to the vastly increased costs of the storms. But those costs have their roots in the fact that more people are living in these risky areas (partly because of increased wealth and partly because of government subsidies to those experiencing losses in these areas) and are building more costly structures in areas that people mostly avoided in the past.
His emphasis on what we can do that will have the most positive effect for the money spent is terrific. For example, changing the kinds of building materials we use, the amount of concrete and asphalt versus the opening of green space in our cities all make good sense, as does the helping of people in the developing world with micronutrients and controlling malaria. The list of items that experts and politicians recognize as the most pressing issues and the most useful for the money spent (see pages 44 and 162) is most instructive regarding reality versus hype.
Frankly, I think Lomborg calls himself the skeptical environmentalist because it sounds better than the sensible environmentalist. However, he really is sensible and worth listening to whether you end up agreeing with his prescriptions or not.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lomborg and Al Gore will become friends. Read why.,
Environmentalists have attacked Lomborg ever since he wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. I have not read it, but read critiques in Scientific American. It seemed Lomborg did cross lines that rendered him vulnerable to scientific attacks; But, with "Cool It" he his on strong scientific ground. He is still attacked by the usual suspects such as Kare Fog, a Danish biologist who posts on the web all the "errors" Lomborg made. Fog goes on pages advancing a case how Lomborg misinterpreted sea level rise data. Fog argues sea level rise is more likely to be two feet instead of one per Lomborg (relying on the IPCC best estimate). In the end Fog contradicts himself by quoting most recent studies that support Lomborg. Kare Fog other attacks are fruitless.
In this great short book, Lomborg covers the following fascinating themes. First, the impact of Global Warming is hugely exaggerated. Second, the efficacy of the Kyoto Protocol is close to nil. Third, the Kyoto Protocol is unworkable as the majority of member-countries fail their CO2 reduction targets. Fourth, we can improve our environmental prospects at a fraction of the Kyoto Protocol's cost and with often more than a 1,000 times the effectiveness.
In the first three chapters Lomborg debunks all the wild exaggerations regarding the impact of Global Warming as conveyed by the media. A couple of examples include the supposedly rapid disappearance of the polar bear often pictured on a melting iceberg. Meanwhile, the overall polar bear population is actually growing. Another is the prospective catastrophic sea level rise of 20 to 40 feet as vividly depicted in An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It with maps showing flooded global coastal regions. Meanwhile the IPCC scientists' models suggest only a one foot increase by the end of the century (same as what we experienced over the last century without any disruption). Al Gore scenarios entail the melting of half or all of the ice caps of both Greenland and Antarctica. The reality is that Greenland is loosing ice at a very slow pace and Antarctica is actually gaining mass. Warmer temperatures cause more precipitation and more snow and ice formation in Antarctica that contributes to lower sea levels. Lomborg goes on uncovering a bunch more mythical exaggerations including the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes. None of them is being supported by IPCC data. He also mentions the flawed `hockey stick' graph manufactured by Michael Mann's spurious model that artificially created a spike in simulated temperatures in present time. He indicated how reluctant the IPCC scientific community was to admit the flaw in this hockey stick model. I was not surprised by any of the above. I have studied Global Warming for several years now, and had already learned about these politicized exaggerations in other excellent books including: Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media and Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming.
Lomborg moves on to explaining how ineffective the Kyoto Protocol is. If all countries ratified this agreement and met their CO2 reduction targets, it would only reduce temperature by 0.3 degree Fahrenheit by the end of the century with a negligible impact on sea level and the environment. This estimate is from IPCC scientists. Lomborg adds that the Kyoto Protocol is unworkable. Countries with already modernized economies, growing population and rising living standards can't dramatically cut CO2 emissions. The majority of West European countries, Canada, and New Zealand have routinely failed their respective CO2 emission reduction targets. The EU has seen CO2 emission per capita increase by 4% since 1990. Meanwhile, the U.S. has remained flat.
Since 2002, Lomborg has dedicated his professional life to exploring the best social policies to improve life on Earth given a hypothetical $50 billion a year. In this effort, he co-founded the Copenhagen Consensus that has engaged numerous Nobel Prize winning economists to evaluate the best social policies. This led him to write this book and also edit How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place. After demonstrating that the Kyoto Protocol is ineffective, he also shares how costly it is ($180 billion a year). On table 2 page 162, he benchmarks the Kyoto Protocol's cost and benefits vs the alternatives. The discrepancy between the two is almost ridiculous. Are you concerned about the polar bears? The Kyoto Protocol would save 0.06 polar bears lives per annum. A simple tighter hunting regulation could easily save 49 polar bears a year at little cost. You are concerned about the spreading of malaria? The Kyoto Protocol would result in 70 million infections avoided over this century. Much cheaper alternatives entailing distribution of mosquitoes net would reduce infections by 28 billion over the same time frame. You are concerned about starvation. The Kyoto Protocol would result in just 2 million fewer starving. Low cost agricultural policies would result in 229 million fewer starving. Thus, social policies deliver often 100 to over 1,000 times the result of the Kyoto Protocol (if countries could meet targets) at less than one third the costs ($50 billion vs $180 billion).
Regarding CO2 emission, Lomborg recommends a low carbon tax of $2 per ton (vs Al Gore's $140). He states this tax would reduce emission by 5% which is much more than what the Kyoto Protocol achieves. He also recommends nations to commit 0.05% of GDP in R&D of noncarbon emitting energy technology (about $25 billion a year or 7 times cheaper than Kyoto). He quotes a scientist who states that dramatic CO2 reduction schemes won't succeed until the public has a cost effective convenient access to an alternative. Lomborg should cheer up; Al Gore has become a venture capitalist working on new energy technologies!
36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Level Headed Book - Highly Recommended,
This is a very short book (164 small pages with another 100 pages of endnotes, references and an index) that tries to add some perspective and reasonableness to an overheated exchange. Lomborg concurs that global warming is occuring and that mankind is contributing to the warming.
The book focuses on four areas: (1) what is the likely impact (both positive and negative) of global warming, (2) what are the costs and benefits of the ways to address global warming (emissions reductions/adaption/do nothing), (3) the importance of having a rational debate about where resources should be spent to better the human condition over the next century and (4) the difficulty of having such a debate when a number of environmental advocates have become overzealous and strident.
Lomborg makes his points but he hurries to cover a lot of ground and the book lacks the detail that made his "skeptical environmentalist" so authoritative. This is one of those unusual cases where a book should have been longer; where the author should have taken more time to explore alternative scenarios (e.g. what's the impact if global warming ends up in the high end of the respected forecasts), more fully describe our responses (e.g. carbon taxes, flood control programs, water retention) and other uses of resources (HIV/AIDS prevenetion, micronutrients, reduced trade barriers). In addition, while Lomborg has been the subject of frequent unfair and vicious written and verbal attacks, sometimes you can feel the impact seep into his writing and it takes away from the calm, rational tone of the book.
All in all, a quick and highly recommended read.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hype Down,
The author, Danish political scientist, Bjorn Lomborg throws some rational thought on the hype surrounding global warming. He points out that global warming is a real problem but he argues that the costs proposed to confront it greatly exceed the benefits postulated by programs such as Kyoto I or II. The book is interesting, informative, lively, often amusing and, happily, short. He covers so many interesting worries, including the disappearing polar bears, the rise in the oceans, the increase in global temperatures, the melting ice and argues that the potential disasters invoked are not likely to be as great as we fear. He argues that we can improve life for most people to a much greater extent at less cost by dealing with starvation, impure water, disease, and poverty using solutions that are already available to us. Even though he doesn't dispute global warming, his point of view has been viciously attacked by supporters of what has become the new mantra. If you saw V. P. Gore's Film, you should read this book and breathe a little easier still doing your best to reduce CO2's. Just don't panic. The polar bear is not going to disappear.
195 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He makes sense,
In COOL IT; Dr Lomborg, again, hits the nail on the head. One of the few scientists in the world who is willing to buck the popular and political trend, Dr Lomborg looks at a lot of data and then draws a scientific conclusion. It is amazing how many of those who disagree with Dr Lomborg are trying to stifle his and other's similar comments. Where is the debate? His research and abundant footnotes allow anyone to look up and analyze the data for themselves. (When did we lose the ability to debate - respectfully - both sides of an issue?) Dr Lomborg has abundant research on his side and is simply summarizing that data in an objective fashion. He suggests that there are other more pressing needs on the planet that - if attended to - could save millions of lives rather than chasing the illusive dream of global warming with limited payoff. 5-stars for an important book that deserves to be heard in the debate over global warming.
153 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a rational view on Global Warming,
There are two great things that Lomborg does:
First, he looks at all of the issues in the Global milieu and argues that a single minded focus on Global Warming is detrimental to maximizing the overall welfare of humans on earth. He points out in great detail, that the value of fighting AIDS/HIV and Malaria and improving access to safe water greatly exceeds implementing the Kyoto accord, which will have a minimal impact on Global Warming. His book is intelligent, insightful and dead bang on.
Second, he actually points out that good things will happen from Global Warming (GASP!). Think about it, when have you heard someone do that? At the height of our paranoia as humans, we equate any change with all bad. Such is the case with most people concerning Global Warming. But is this rational? Of course not, change can bring good and bad. The question is what is the result on balance?
As examples, deaths due to weather will decrease overall. Heat related deaths will increase, but cold related deaths will decrease and cold related deaths account for about 80% of weather related deaths. Overall availability of quality water will increase because precipitation levels will increase. Antarctica will actually get larger (i.e.; have a deeper, higher ice field), not shrink as implied by Al Gore in his movie. But this is only a partial list, there will, indeed, be many benefits from Global Warming which dramatically change the equation from "This-could-be-the-end-of-the-earth" type rhetoric to "This is one of many serious problems that needs to be balanced against the other problems of Earth."
So thank you Mr. Lomborg. A rational mind is finally writing, speaking and talking about Global Warming.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for serious environmentalists,
I started reading this book thinking I'd get a few chuckles over the manipulations of fact and common-sense that clearly show the need for drastic action today to curb greenhouse gas emissions. What I got instead was a thoughtful dissection of the issue that left me questioning many of my own assumptions. I now find myself asking far more questions when reading magazine articles or news stories on this issue. If you're serious about wanting to do the right thing for our planet and the children we bring forth to inhabit it, this is a must-read. Lomborg makes a strong case that the feel-good policies so popular today may actually harm both our planet and its people over the long run. His book hasn't changed my mind or commitment about environmental issues, but rather, it broadened my understanding of other effective ways to tackle the challenges of climate change.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing break from the flat-earthers vs. sky-is-falling wars,
Americans are exposed to two schools of thought on global warming: From the right, we hear that it's a acientific hoax started by socialist Europeans and crackpot enviros; from the left, we're told that the world will end by 2100 unless we stop driving and live in caves (the celebrity liberals who were smart enough to warn us of disaster will, presumably, be allowed to keep their Lear jets and Hollywood mansions). Lomborg proposes that we look at climate change scientifically and pragmatically, that we use LOGIC and REASON in assessing the danger and developing plans for mitigation. This approach is an anathema to politicians, foaming right-wing talk show hosts, the news media, publicity hungry "experts", and others who make their living by firing up our biases, fears and other animal instincts. The "inconvenient truth" about global warming is that we're being offered two visions of the future that represent only the best case or the worst case scenarios. Lomborg shows us that we don't have to choose between the proselytizing of the European Union or the shameless denial of fossil fuel advocates when making choices for the future. His ideas are worth reading, if only to make us realize the degree to which the public is being manipulated on the global warming issue.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important read among the global warming hysteria,
This review is from: Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (Paperback)
Bjorn Lomborg's second mainstream book (The Skeptical Environmentalist, which I haven't read, was the first) is stunningly good.
I first came across Lomborg in his presentation at a TED conference, where he makes a compelling argument for not making global warming one of our highest global priorities. More recently, I watched him interviewed by Tony Jones on ABC's Lateline, and that prompted me to buy his book.
Lomborg has a simple point: Yes, global warming is a problem, but it's not a catastrophe; and we can help far more people (the same people who'll be most affected by global warming) far more effectively for far less money by doing other things.
Naturally, this approach makes him a target from policy makers, greenies, politicians and others who've jumped on the global warming band-wagon - especially those who see a carbon tax as the only option. But he seems unfazed, and sticks to his simple - and compelling - message.
For example ...
Yes, global warming will mean more people will die from malaria in the next 100 years. But for a fraction of the cost of taxing carbon, we can prevent a lot more people dying from malaria in the next 10 years.
Yes, global warming will cause more floods. But for a fraction of the cost of taxing carbon, we can do more to prevent flood damage.
Yes, global warming will affect poorer nations more than wealthy nations. But for a fraction of the cost of taxing carbon, we can make those nations wealthy enough to manage those problems.
He's most compelling because he doesn't try to make other people wrong (except blatant scaremongers, like Al Gore). Yes, he says, the climate scientists are right in warning us of the dangers of global warming. And yes, they will say it's an urgent problem to fix. And yes, in an ideal world with unlimited resources, we'd address all the problems. But in a world with scarce resources, we prioritise. And he's saying we're prioritising wrongly.
He's not a "global warming denier" (although some critics wrongly say he is), so don't read this book if you want to read that global warming isn't real, or isn't human-made. Do read this book if you want a better perspective on the whole global warming issue, especially if you currently think it's the most important issue facing the planet today. According to Lomborg, it's not - by a long way.
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Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming by Bjørn Lomborg (Paperback - August 12, 2008)
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