Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bjørn Lomborg changes stance on climate change

Better late than never:

Self-styled "sceptical environmentalist" Bjørn Lomborg's call for a $100bn a year global fund for research into climate change solutions was today given a cautious welcome by some leading green groups and thinktanks, but was dismissed by others as politically naive.

A Greenpeace spokesperson welcomed the conversion but said it had come two decades too late for Lomborg to be taken seriously. "At least it confirms the happy maxim that nobody's wrong all the time, apart from Melanie Phillips at the Daily Mail," the spokesperson added.

"It appears that the self-styled sceptical environmentalist is beginning to become less sceptical as he enters middle-age," said Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Mike Childs, adding that Lomborg's volte face would come as a "blow to some in the climate sceptics community".

The controversial Danish statistician, who has never denied man's role in global warming but who has provided an intellectual cover for hard-line climate sceptics, has previously argued that countering climate change should be a low priority for governments. But in his new book Smart Solutions to Climate Change he argues that it should now be addressed "as a priority".

From the Guardian. It suggests that Lomborg has more intellectual honesty than many of us would have given him credit for. Good for him. Childs does raise one issue, though:
"But he is still dangerously attracted to pursuing the cheapest, more risky geo-engineering solutions, is putting too much faith in future technologies and R&D, and is not giving enough support to the urgent need to reduce current emissions through rapid deployment of existing solutions and behavioural changes."
On one level, I agree with Childs' suspicion of geo-engineering; on the other hand, I think that at this stage we'd be foolish not to investigate it. It's better to be working on reducing emissions, of course (especially since many geo-engineering approaches do little or nothing to actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and thus do not solve the ocean acidification problem). Nonetheless, there's a good chance we'll need it the way things are going with everything else, so we'd better be working on that too.

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