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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits
Format: Paperback|Change
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on January 6, 2011
First a rant - To the managers of Cambridge University Press - Why is this book so expensive? It desrves wide readership but at this price very few people can afford to buy it.

I am not a Bjorn Lomborg fan. I think his approach (i) conceals a great deal of bias and (ii) depends on economic models for decision making that have been proven to be misleading. I also think it fairly easy to debunk the Expert Panel Ranking at the end of the book. Unsurprisingly, the rankings are done by economists.

That said, I found this book very valuable. It is full of interesting and challenging perspectives, provides access to some useful data, and makes some effort to tell more than one side of the story. At this point in the climate change debate we should be looking for different opinions and different approaches to solutions. This book is one place to start.

Solutions considered -
- Climate Engineering
- Carbon Dioxide Mitigation
- Forestry Carbon Sequestration
- Black Carbon Mitigation
- Methane Mitigation
- Market and Policy Driven Adaptation (interesting that these are considered together, and I think the best way to think about these two alternatives is to think about them together)
- Technology-Led Climate Policy
- Technology Transfer

Expert Panel Ranking (all of the 'experts' are economists)
If $250 billion were to be invested how would one rank the proposals as candidates for investment?
Very Good
- Marine cloud whitening research
- Energy R&D
- Stratospheric Aerosol Insertion Research
- Carbon Storage Research
- Planning for adaptation
- Research into air capture
- Technology transfers
- Expand and protect forests
- Stoves in developing nations
- Methane reduction portfolio
- Diesel vehicle emissions
- $20 OECD carbon tax
Very Poor
- Global CO2 taxes of various levels

It is revealing that this group of economists gravitates to climate engineering solutions. They make the surprising claim that these research projects "reduce the risk of pork barrel politics and lower transaction costs." This is just stupid. These kids of research and massive technology interventions into ecologies are prime examples of pork-barrel politics. To propose a set of untested technologies that depend on unpredictable interventions into ecosystems is a stunning act of hubris. It is fascinating that this group of economists wants us to rely on technology solutions and wants to keep away from capturing externalities. Basically, this book is a sophisticated effort to prevent any real action on climate change.

One area that is worth calling out thought is Adaptation. At this point, some degree of climate change is inevitable and it is important that we begin to look at how we build resilient societies and economies and societies. Some people don't want to talk about adaptation as they fear that this will take pressure off efforts to deal with the problem at source. But it is already too late for that, we have to begin to adapt and we need to research (and discuss) what that means. The actual chapter on Market- and Policy-Driven Adaptation by Bosello, Carraro and De Cian was a disappointment. It did not go into the nature of the adaptations or even to the nature of adaptive mechanisms. But the authors appear to be economists, and the range of alternatives they imagine is limited.

All in all, this book can help to inform discussion as long as one understands its limitations - it is by economists, with a very narrow range of reference, with a bias towards technology solutions, the complexity of which they seem to be ill equipped to understand.
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on December 8, 2013
I am an elected official and appreciate Lomborg's non hysterical analysis of this topic. He is able to project costs and trade offs in a reasonable manner.
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on January 23, 2016
very interesting book
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on December 17, 2012
I was hoping this would make a case that we're spending money fixing the wrong things that could make a difference with the climate. However, this was mostly facts and figures, leaving it up to the reader to decipher. Maybe I missed the conclusion, because I couldn't stay awake.
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on January 3, 2011
The book contains 8 main chapters and 13 shorter perspective papers, written by a total of 29 contributors. In the last part of the book, the presented opportunities are ranked by a panel of five prominent economists. Introduction and Conclusion is written by Bjørn Lomborg.

I have scrutinized the contents carefully and placed an extensive review/criticism on the following address:

The overall conclusion is that the book is biased towards downplaying the severity of climate change and the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions. The increasing risk of weather catastrophes is left out of crucial computer models. Placing a tax on carbon emissions is presented as a very poor idea. This is based on chapter 2 written by Richard Tol, in which the damages from climate change (the social cost of carbon) are estimated by a computer model at a level so low that it is a complete outlier relative to other estimates, including those published and reviewed by Tol himself. This biased output then allows a panel of economists to conclude that carbon taxation has a very low benefit-cost-ratio. Thus, although many experts assert that high fuel prices are necessary to produce a 'price signal' that will induce the necessary innovation of energy technology, the book manages to delete such necessary carbon taxes from the portfolio of recommendable solutions.
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