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Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming Hardcover – September 4, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 177 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon.com Guest Reviewer: Michael Crichton
In his many science-themed bestsellers--including The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Prey, and most recently, Next--Michael Crichton has covered everything from genetically engineered dinosaurs to time travel to nantechnology run amok. Having cast his own views on the dangers and hysteria surrounding global warming with State of Fear, he turns his pen toward the often controversial Bjørn Lomborg and his latest book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming.

Bjørn Lomborg is the best-informed and most humane advocate for environmental change in the world today. In contrast to other figures that promote a single issue while ignoring others, Lomborg views the globe as a whole, studies all the problems we face, ranks them, and determines how best, and in what order, we should address them. His first book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, established the importance of a fact-based approach. With later books, Global Crises, Global Solutions and How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, this mild-mannered Danish statistician has steadily gained new converts. Not surprisingly, Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming will further enhance Lomborg’s reputation for global analysis and thoughtful response. For anyone who wants an overview of the global warming debate from an objective source, this brief text is a perfect place to start. Lomborg is only interested in real problems, and he has no patience with media fear-mongering; he begins by dispatching the myth of the endangered polar bears, showing that this Disneyesque cartoon has no relevance to the real world where polar bear populations are in fact increasing. Lomborg considers the issue in detail, citing sources from Al Gore to the World Wildlife Fund, then demonstrating that polar bear populations have actually increased five fold since the 1960s.

Lomborg then works his way through the concerns we hear so much about: higher temperatures, heat deaths, species extinctions, the cost of cutting carbon, the technology to do it. Lomborg believes firmly in climate change--despite his critics, he's no denier--but his fact-based approach, grounded in economic analyses, leads him again and again to a different view. He reviews published estimates of the cost of climate change, and the cost of addressing it, and concludes that "we actually end up paying more for a partial solution than the cost of the entire problem. That is a bad deal."

In some of the most disturbing chapters, Lomborg recounts what leading climate figures have said about anyone who questions the orthodoxy, thus demonstrating the illiberal, antidemocratic tone of the current debate. Lomborg himself takes the larger view, explaining in detail why the tone of hysteria is inappropriate to addressing the problems we face.

In the end, Lomborg’s concerns embrace the planet. He contrasts our concern for climate with other concerns such as HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and providing clean water to the world. In the end, his ability to put climate in a global perspective is perhaps the book’s greatest value. Lomborg and Cool It are our best guides to our shared environmental future.

--Michael Crichton

(photo credit: Jonathan Exley)

From Publishers Weekly

Lomborg, a political scientist and economist with a conservative approach to environmentalism, presents a work that's likely to garner as much acclaim and disdain as his first book, 2001's The Skeptical Environmentalist. This "Guide to Global Warming," while thoroughly referenced and convincingly argued, ignores many climate studies and assumes that climate change will continue at a steady rate (not necessarily the case). From this vantage, Lomborg suggests workable solutions beyond "hysteria and headlong spending," proposing a tax on CO2 "at the economically correct level of about two dollars per ton, or maximally fourteen dollars per ton" and that "all nations should commit themselves to spending 0.05 percent of GDP in R&D of noncarbon-emitting energy technologies." Gross simplification, however, leads to misleading generalizations and questionable arguments, such as Lomborg's claim that a reduction in global cold weather-related deaths that outweighs the rising number of heat-related deaths means global warming is good for humanity. Though he argues passionately, Lomborg's efforts seem more about pushing his opponents' buttons than facing honestly the complexities of global climate change.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307266923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307266927
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #950,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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