Monday, January 14, 2013

In defense of Bjørn Lomborg ???

{Cleaned up this mess 1/25/2014}

I was visiting a discussion forum in a thread about "our dying rivers" when a fake skeptic tried to derail the discussion. One moment the character is claiming I misunderstood a claim made about Water Rights, the next it's: 

"You're dancing about making vague claims with great certainty and dumping on anyone who questions your wisdom.
The idiot bilge"
Where upon my fake skeptic ("f.s.") pal quotes me:

"All American hubris towards our life sustaining biosphere in action."  
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"First honestly understanding what is happening upon our planet,
Then, consider the most cost effective ways to deal with it."
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"But that isn't what the contrarian community has done..."
But, then, "f.s." comes at me from left field with one of them Denalist Diversions:

Maybe you can start with the curious case of Bjorn Lomborg and the underhanded attacks against him for doing what you suggest contrarians should do but never do. Mark Lynas 
the Green reporter, does the deed here. "That's for all the things you say about the environment that are the complete opposite"
But serious underhanded attacks on Lomborg were committed by academics.
Lomborg's name or claims had never come up in that or any other thread - still suddenly the conversation is supposed to stop discussing the issues causing our rivers to be in such bad shape these days, in order to wrestle with Straw men and Red Herrings.  

But then, having a bit of hyper attention syndrome,  I'm often up for playing fetch the diversion and I've heard of Lomborg enough that I went off looking for information about him.  It was another interesting learning experience and since the chap who made the above comments seems to never read anything I offer, I figure I'll reproduce my response {admittedly, with a little polishing and some additions}.  Who knows maybe someone will read it here... besides there are many links to more informed sources regarding Professor Lomborg, his various claims and his flip-flops

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Regarding the complaints of my denialist pal - what does a heckler with a pie have to do with "serious underhanded attacks on Lomborg ... by academics" is beyond me.  But, such is the denialist's method. 

But OK, I'm game.  Let's consider this Lomborg, associate professor of statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus, Denmark.

"... Later in the book, reflecting on analysis by five economists of eight types of solution, he estimates that spending $100bn (£65bn) a year "could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century". 
He finishes: "If we care about the environment and about leaving this planet and its inhabitants with the best possible future, we actually have only one option: we all need to start seriously focusing, right now, on the most effective ways to fix global warming."...
Makes sense, but then Lomborg's crazy-making begins: 
The Copenhagen Distraction 
Rebuttal to Bjørn Lomborg on Global Warming: Bjørn Lomborg intentionally or unintentionally obfuscated the political will to mitigate climate change and certainly gained recognition and made money on his assertions. He put together his own conference and called it the Copenhagen Consensus. He wrote a book called 'The Skeptical Environmentalist ' for which the Denmark Ministry of Science found him guilty of 'scientific dishonesty'. 
The Lomborg Distraction
How bad is the Copenhagen Consensus?
To help understand this in proper context we need to know how people manipulate polls. This brings up the classic poll question: "Have you stopped beating your wife yet (YES or NO)? If you answer yes, that means you used to beat your wife. If you answer no, that means you are still beating your wife. This is basically what Lomborg has done here. He limited the scope of the questions and possible answers and created a straw man poll.
{hey that sounds a bit like one of "f.s." tactics}
As for "serious underhanded attacks on Lomborg were committed by academics"
Does "f.s." mean attacks like this:

Science based complaints regarding Lomborg's claims: 
- It is inconsiderate of the long term effects and costs of global warming in comparison to the other things on the list. 
- It examines the past in order to judge future costs, which in this case has the opposite affect on economic capacity. In other words, all the things on the list get more expensive if global warming is not the top priority. 
- Unfortunately (or conveniently), there is no possible way for this method to show climate change as important until it's historic cost and impact is felt economically in human society, and supersedes the costs of other issues. 
- Due to thermal inertia, the longer we wait to deal with global warming the more costly and destructive it becomes. 
- Lomborg and the consensus, with the method used, are not forward thinking, not prescient, and not wise. 
This 'consensus report' undermines the critical importance of action regarding human caused climate change. Waiting substantially increases the cost of dealing with global warming, but also increases the cost of everything on Lomborg's list. 
The lack of forward thinking will make everything he has been historically, and currently, ranking as top priority, much worse, not better.
Although I gotta admit the one thing I do like about this ever so frustrating dialogue with fake skeptics is the many new discoveries those folks lead me to.

For instance, when I went looking for evidence of the claim of "serious underhanded attacks on Lomborg were committed by academics"  what I actually found was serious critiques of Lomborg's work and assertions.  For instance, the most detailed reviews I've found are here:
It's big and I'll admit I only sampled a few topics, but it's impressive and serious and nothing like the "underhanded attacks" being claimed.

But then the Fake Skeptic also thinks that if a "skeptical" science paper is rejected it's gotta be because of "the conspiracy" rather than ever considering perhaps the paper was deeply flawed, perhaps it was even an out and out cow pie.

But I digress, here's some more interesting sources for information on this colorful character named Bjørn Lomborg:’s-climate-confusionist-spin-never-ending

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The reply was :
Wow! All that and you didn't happen to find out what happened to that "Guilty" finding in the end. That reflects poorly on your sources. 
The Copenhagen Distraction
Rebuttal to 
Bjørn Lomborg on Global Warming: Bjørn Lomborg intentionally or unintentionally obfuscated the political will to mitigate climate change and certainly gained recognition and made money on his assertions. He put together his own conference and called it the Copenhagen Consensus. He wrote a book called 'The Skeptical Environmentalist ' for which the Denmark Ministry of Science found him guilty of 'scientific dishonesty'. (
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But, "f.s." has overlooked the rest of the story:  
The Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty 
The concern over Lomborg's misrepresentation of the science was so great that three complaints were lodged with the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty, which Lomborg describes as "a national review body, with considerable authority". [8] 
The committee found "the publication is deemed clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice". [9] They stated "there has been such perversion of the scientific message in the form of systematically biased representation that the objective criteria for upholding scientific dishonesty ... have been met". 
In the wake of the decision the conservative Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, requested a review of the work of the Institute for Environmental Valuation (IEV) which Lomborg had been appointed to head in February 2002. [10] 
Subsequently, the Danish government appointed a panel of five scientists to evaluate the reports produced by IEV. In August 2003 the committee announced that "the panel must conclude that none of the reports represent scientific work or methods in the traditional scientific sense". [11] 
In December 2003, the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (a branch of the government that had appointed Lomborg) repudiated the findings of the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty, saying its treatment of the case was "dissatisfactory", "deserving criticism" and "emotional" and contained a number of significant errors. [12]. It told the DCSD to reconsider their verdict.[13]
In March 2004, the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty declined to reconsider its verdict against Lomborg. [14]ørn_Lomborg   
DCSD response: 
On 12 March 2004, the Committee formally decided not to act further on the complaints, reasoning that renewed scrutiny would, in all likelihood, result in the same conclusion.
Response of the scientific community 
The original DCSD decision about Lomborg provoked a petition[12] among Danish academics. 308 scientists, many of them from the social sciences, criticised the DCSD's methods in the case and called for the DCSD to be disbanded.[13] The Danish Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation then asked the Danish Research Agency to form an independent working group to review DCSD practices.[14] In response to this, another group of Danish scientists collected over 600 signatures (primarily from the medical and natural sciences community) to support the continued existence of the DCSD and presented their petition to the Danish Research Agency.[13] 

Continued debate and criticism
The rulings of the Danish authorities in 2003-2004 left Lomborg's critics frustrated. Lomborg claimed vindication as a result of MSTI's decision to set aside the original finding of DCSD. 
The Lomborg Deception by Howard Friel claims to offer a "careful analysis" of the ways in which Lomborg has "selectively used (and sometimes distorted) the available evidence".[17] Lomborg has provided a 27-page argument-by-argument rebuttal. 
A Dutch think tank, HAN, Heidelberg Appeal the Netherlands, published a report in which they claimed 25 out of 27 accusations against Lomborg to be unsubstantiated or not to the point.[18] A group of scientists with relation to this think tank also published an article in 2005 in the Journal of Information Ethics,[19] in which they concluded that most criticism against Lomborg was unjustified, and that the scientific community misused their authority to suppress Lomborg.
Which bring us back to that very in-depth examination at
Kåre Fog
The claim that the accusations against Lomborg were unjustified was challenged in the next issue of Journal of Information Ethics[20] by Kåre Fog, one of the original plaintiffs. Fog reasserted his contention that, despite the ministry's decision, most of the accusations against Lomborg were valid. 
He also rejected what he called "the Galileo hypothesis", which he describes as the conception that Lomborg is just a brave young man confronting old-fashioned opposition. 
Kåre Fog has established a catalogue of criticisms against Lomborg on the Lomborg-errors website, established in 2004.[21] Fog maintains the catalogue, which includes a section for each page in each chapter in The Skeptical Environmentalist. In each section, Fog lists and details what he believes to be flaws and errors in Lomborg's work. Fog explicitly indicates if there are any details which he believes support the interpretation that the particular error may have been made deliberately by Lomborg, in order to mislead. Lomborg has on numerous occasions commented and defended himself against Kåre Fog's critique, especially in the web-book "Godhedens Pris".[22][23]
But wait, wasn't there a "think tank" that jumped to Lomborg's defense?  I wonder what they are all about?  Well, turns out they have a curious, but undeniable connection to the original Manufacturers of Denial... go figure :

The Heidelberg Appeal has morphed into two parts, a South American branch operation, and a continuing European operation. The southern version keeps a form of the original name of International Center for a Scientific Ecology.
Hanekamp is found in the successor to the corrupt Heidelberg Appeal[1] and CFACT (two strikes), apparently on parallel track with Pfizer known to fund subversive think tanks like Tech Central Station. Four stikes and he's out.
See more: 
Heidelberg Appeal
And then there is this article, part of a series, this particular installment provides some more interesting details to the sorted deeds of this wing of the denialist echo-chamber. 
Jules' klimaatblog 
Tobacco industry & Heidelberg appeal This document and this one which were made public in the Tobacco Legacy Documents library leave no doubt about the roots of the Heidelberg Appeal. I’ve mentioned before that when the science was leaving less and less doubt that second-hand tobacco smoke indeed IS harmful; the tobacco industry in the 80’ies & beginning of the 90’ies was looking for a allies to form a broader coalition to attack science. this document by tobacco industry law firm APCO provides a brilliant insight in what the industry wanted : 
Click to see the document at the next post 
The document leaves no doubt : global warming scepticism was nothing but one of the many issues the tobacco industry hoped to use in a broad attack on science. It also explains why so many leading climate sceptics (Singer, Milloy, …) have their toots in the tobacco industry. The effort to create a European branch of TASSC finally would result in the ESEF organisation of Frits Böttcher. It is in this circle of lobby groups the Heidelberg Appeal has its roots.  
In 1993 in Holland an organisation was found called Foundation Heidelberg Appeal Netherlands (HAN), and which would quickly work together with Böttchers Global Institute. HAN would later on become one of the organisations to form De Groene Rekenkamer, therefore i’m going to spent some more time on them in another post. 

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has a timely post regarding Bjørn Lomborg 

When is a sceptic not a sceptic, but someone denying climate change?
When they’re Bjorn Lomborg writing for the Wall Street Journal.  
Lomborg, for those not familiar with the name, has made quite a nice career casting doubt on the seriousness of climate change will tentatively agreeing climate change is real. According to Lomborg: “Global warming is real – it is man-made and it is an important problem. But it is not the end of the world.” 
Lomborg embodies what is called the “luke-warm” position”". Luke-warmers such as Lomborg argue the problem is overstated, thus on a cost-benefit analysis there is no need to do anything. 
For this reason he’s long been a favorite of politicians and conservative commentators who are dismissive of the science but who still wish to pay lip service to the problem.
The Lomborg DeceptionHoward Friel in the book The Lomborg Deception examined the many claims made by Lomborg and found he’d engaged in numerous fabrications and distortions:
In this major assessment of leading climate-change skeptic Bjørn Lomborg, Howard Friel meticulously deconstructs the Danish statistician’s claim that global warming is “no catastrophe” by exposing the systematic misrepresentations and partial accounting that are at the core of climate skepticism.As Friel discusses in his work, Lomborg’s modus operandi is to cherry pick the scientific literature in order to downplay the risks of climate change.
Here's a great example of a Phony Skeptical stance.  
Lomborg makes the claim:
"Historical analysis of wildfires around the world shows that since 1950 their numbers have decreased globally by 15%. "
Not one word about the tremendous advances in fire suppression techniques and manpower commitment that are the direct cause of those burn numbers going down.  Why are such glaring important omissions accepted by so many?

As for future prospects, they are not near as rosy as Lomborg tries to deceive us into believing:

Numbers Confirm 2012 Was Worst NM Wildfire Season Ever
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The 2012 Colorado wildfires are an ongoing unusually devastating series of Colorado wildfires and include several separate fires in June and July 2012. At least 34,500 residents were evacuated in June
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Report Summary
The 2012 wildfire season isn’t over yet, but already this year is shaping up to be the one of the worst on record in the American West. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, with nearly two months still to go in the fire season, the total area already burned this year is 30 percent more than in an average year, and fires have consumed more than 8.6 million acres, an area larger than the state of Maryland.
Yet, what defines a “typical” wildfire year in the West is changing. In the past 40 years, rising spring and summer temperatures, along with shrinking winter snowpack, have increased the risk of wildfires in most parts of the West.
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2012: Third highest number of wildfire acres burned
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citizenschallenge said...

George Will, ideologue warrior, stealer of documents off President Carter's desk - is about the last person one should turn to for an objective appraisal of anything to do with health, safety or our environment. But, he keeps his job and spews his party-line.

In any event, the following was posted over at Watching the Deniers
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"Tamino has an article today at Open Mind, about George Will’s statements on reduced forest fires in the U.S. As Tamino shows, the acreage burned has had a big increase.:

"Where there’s a Will … theres a way to distort the truth"
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Tip of the Hat to sailrick

citizenschallenge said...

"Hot, It’s Not:
Reflections on Cool It!, by Bjorn Lomborg"

by Frank Ackerman

Came across an interesting thoughtful article reviewing Lomborg's various fallacies, I figured I should share:

. . . If he had confined himself to actual examples of oversimplification and exaggeration in climate change rhetoric, Lomborg could have written a short, useful article - perhaps making the point that it is unhelpful and unnecessary to overstate the case, since the real problems of climate change are serious enough.

Unfortunately, Lomborg did not write that article, but instead stretched his story into a book length claim that climate change is only a moderately serious problem, while the proposed remedies are all prohibitively expensive. Many other problems, in his view, are both more urgent and cheaper to solve. . .