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1 Burnside - Bldg. 2 Environmental Studies- Climate Change and Global Warming

Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming

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Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming Cover

ISBN13: 9780307266927
ISBN10: 0307266923
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A groundbreaking book that transforms the debate about global warming by offering a fresh perspective based on human needs as well as environmental concerns.

Bjorn Lomborg argues that many of the elaborate and expensive actions now being considered to stop global warming will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, are often based on emotional rather than strictly scientific assumptions, and may very well have little impact on the world's temperature for hundreds of years. Rather than starting with the most radical procedures, Lomborg argues that we should first focus our resources on more immediate concerns, such as fighting malaria and HIV/AIDS and assuring and maintaining a safe, fresh water supply — which can be addressed at a fraction of the cost and save millions of lives within our lifetime. He asks why the debate over climate change has stifled rational dialogue and killed meaningful dissent.

Lomborg presents us with a second generation of thinking on global warming that believes panic is neither warranted nor a constructive place from which to deal with any of humanity's problems, not just global warming. Cool It promises to be one of the most talked about and influential books of our time.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Bjorn Lomborg is a Danish statistician and darling of those who believe that markets should not be regulated and that concerns about the environment are overblown. He is articulate, certain in his opinions and well informed on the statistical minutiae of the topics he investigates. Indeed, so compelling and entertaining are the grains of truth that adorn his latest book, 'Cool It,' that you are certain... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] book brimming with useful facts and common sense.... Mr. Lomborg's cost-benefit approach won't sit well with leftists who see global-warming programs as a proxy for other goals (say, reducing "materialism")....But his analysis is smart and refreshing, and it may bridge at least one divide in our too divided culture." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Cool It is a highly valuable contribution to the climate-policy literature. In clear and concise prose, Lomborg diagnoses the problems plaguing contemporary climate policy, injecting a needed tonic of realism and common sense into the climate debate. And for that very reason, it is sure to make Lomborg's critics hot-under-the-collar." Jonathan Adler, National Review

Review:

"A reasoned addition to the debate about what to do about climate change. And it is sure to provoke just as much controversy as his last book." Esquire

Review:

"Bjorn Lomborg's rational and compassionate suggestions would save more lives, preserve more wilderness and have a better chance of eventually halting man-made global warming than hysterical catastrophism, global treaties, and high-minded energy rationing. Read this ingenious book." Matt Ridley, author of The Origins of Virtue

Review:

"At last we have a book that puts the hype of global warming into perspective. Bjorn Lomborg's eye-opening book, Cool It, examines and meticulously documents climate change's effects and proposed solutions. An extraordinarily timely and supremely useful book." John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends

Book News Annotation:

While the fact of anthropogenic global warming is certainly beyond debate, argues Lomborg (an economist at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark), the nature of our response to it is not. He warns that "hysterical" spending on extravagant carbon dioxide reduction programs as envisioned by the Kyoto Protocol is a wasteful option, especially in comparison to the good that could be done by diverting extra resources to global priorities identified by the 2004 Copenhagen Consensus of economists. These include control of HIV AIDS, addressing malnutrition, trade liberalization, control of malaria, development of new agricultural technologies, research on water productivity in food production, and lowering the cost of starting a new business. According to the Copenhagen Consensus, all of these are good to very good opportunities, while carbon taxes and the Kyoto Protocol are bad opportunities. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Written by the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, this groundbreaking book transforms the debate about global warming by offering a fresh perspective based on human needs as well as environmental concerns.

About the Author

Bjorn Lomborg is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2004 and has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. He is presently an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, and in 2004 he started the Copenhagen Consensus, a conference of top economists who come together to prioritize the best solutions for the world's greatest challenges.

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Chris Taylor, October 5, 2007 (view all comments by Chris Taylor)
This actually is a decent book, as long as you are able to process facts that may not fit your preconceived ideas about global warming.

The author makes some very good points, most of which will not be digested by Al Gore loving, lock stepping global warming alarmists. It is refreshing to get a different point of view for a change. Al Gore really believes that New York is going to be under water in the next fifty years while he gets on a private jet and flies around the country. Obviously he isn’t that concerned.

I think the Devil’s Advocate said it best;

“We must ignore the fact that the Earth’s climate has always changed without any help from us. We must ignore the fact that CO2 has never driven climate changes in the past. We must ignore the fact that humans emit less CO2 than dying vegetation, volcanoes, oceans, or other naturally occurring phenomenon. We must ignore the fact that CO2 is not a pollutant and is what makes plants grow. We must ignore the fact that many scientists believe now that changes in the sun’s activity cause our climate to change. We must ignore the fact that many scientists disagree with the IPCC findings and believe they cherry pick the findings.”

“This nonsense is further perpetuated by Al Gore, who asserts with ignorant condescension that the Earth’s climate has reached its tipping point. In essence, it is too late; we already destroyed the planet. In reality, we may have reached a tipping point by brainwashing our youth to follow this religion. Moreover, we sadly may have reached the point of no return to bring these people back to the side of sanity.”

Another good book to read regarding global warming is Shattered Consensus. Many scientists discuss how their data collected is cherry picked by the IPCC. How some scientists ignore flawed or inconclusive data when drawing sweeping conclusions (see the famous “hockey stick” graph”).

C. Taylor
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Jesse Jenkins, September 6, 2007 (view all comments by Jesse Jenkins)
Like his earlier work, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," which prominent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson called a "sordid mess" and was found to have cherry-picked the facts, Bjorn Lombord's latest effort, "Cool It" is more hot air.

Lomborg's basic thesis, that "scare-monger" environmentalists have over-hyped the threat of climate change and that we shouldn't take any serious action to tackle the climate crisis because doing so would harm economic growth that poor people need requires a particularly slanted view of the world and rests on 'facts' selectively picked to support his arguments as he ignores a vast body of science.

As economist Eban Goodstein's review of "Cool It" in Salon (see www.salon.com/books/ review/2007/08/29/cool_it/) writes:

"In "Cool It," Lomborg has three messages. First, the planet will warm up no more than 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit this century, and on balance, this will be bad, but not too bad. Second, all benefit-cost models show that serious limits on global warming emissions are too costly, and therefore we should pollute with virtual impunity. And -- surprisingly -- we should invest a decent amount ($25 billion per year) in clean energy technologies now so that, starting in a few decades, we will have tools to slow down global warming just a little bit through 2100."

While I can't agree more with the third point, his first two messages are quite frankly bull sh!t.

Lomborg's first agrument assumes that global warming will be held to "only" 4.7 degrees F. First off, that's a swing of temperatures halfway to ice age proportions (the last ice age was only 9 degrees F colder than today). Not a big deal, eh?

Lomborg argues that as the temperatures heat up, deaths from heat waves will be offset by less deaths from cold exposure. This contradicts the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's authoritative Fourth Assessment Report, released earlier this year. The report does agree that cold deaths will decrease with warming, but says that while "climate change is projected to bring some benefits, such as fewer deaths from cold exposure ... overall it is expected that these benefits will be outweighed by the negative health benefits of rising temperatures, especially worldwide."

So sure, Mr. Lomborg, less people will die of cold exposure in rich countries in Northern climes. But at the same time, the IPCC report warns that literally billions of people will be affected by water and food shortages, droughts, floods, storms, etc. People in poorer developing countries, the people Lomborg supposedly cares so much about, will be most severely affected.

These aren't the made-up scenarios of "fear-mongering environmentalists." They're the warnings of an international body of the world's top climate scientists, literally hundreds of them, and the report they produced is truly a consensus document; every word in the "summary for policymakers" report I referenced above (see www.ipcc.ch/SPM13apr07.pdf) has to be approved by representatives of 130+ countries (including representatives of the Bush Administration)! In fact, throughout his book, Lomborg cites the IPCC report like gospel, all the while selectively ignoring much that doesn't serve his arguments.

For example, in assuming that temperatures will not warm by more than 4.7 degrees, despite the inaction that he advocates, he ignores the fact that the IPCC includes a range of temperature estimates going all the way up to 10.5 degrees.

The most crucial error in the book - the most glaring oversight that disqualifies the book as a serious examination of the risks and tradeoffs of climate change - is that Lomborg ignores the existence of powerful climate feedback loops hidden within the climate system. As Eban Goodstein writes,:

"The global warming "alarmism" that Lomborg finds so distasteful is motivated by a serious, science-driven concern that hidden within our global climate system are powerful positive feedback loops. So that as we inch up from 3 to 4 and then 4 to 5 degrees of warming, we may very well cross some temperature threshold that would trigger a couple of degrees of further warming, causing a catastrophic upward spiral in global temperatures.

For example, if the Amazon heats up and dries out too much, much of it could burn down, flipping to savannah, and releasing tens of billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Similarly, as the permafrost in the Arctic melts, a huge pulse of methane may be released. The science is clear that, interacting, these and other biophysical and socioeconomic factors could drive planetary temperatures far beyond the range that Lomborg addresses. By ignoring the vast uncertainty underlying these forecasts, and every alternative outcome except his preferred "moderate" warming scenario, "Cool It" reduces to an uninteresting discussion of why folks alive today should choose 4.7 degrees of warming rather than 4.4 as the optimal outcome for our grandkids."

But there is no sound scientific reason to assume that as we sit inactively, following Lomborg's advice, that temperatures will stop rising at 4.7 degrees. In fact, there is every reason to worry that if we don't begin a proactive, concerted effort to halt warming temperatures within the next few years, we will lock ourselves in to a degree of warming that will push us past what America's top climate scientist, James Hansen, calls 'the Tipping Point' where temperatures and greenhouse gas levels will have increased enough to set off a chain reaction of these feedback loops that will push global warming beyond our control.

Once we pass the Tipping Point, warming will simply spin out of control and no matter what we do, we won't be able to halt or reverse the changing climate. We could stop using all fossil fuels entirely, but if we did it one day after crossing the Tipping Point - think of it as the Point of No Return - it wouldn't do a damn bit of good.

But don't take my word for it. Let's hear what Dr. Hansen has to say: "In my opinion," he testified in 2006, "there is no significant doubt (probability > 99%)" that projections for warming in a business-as-usual future (one that Lomborg advocates) "would push the Earth beyond the tipping point and cause dramatic climate impacts including eventual sea level rise of at least several meters, extermination of a substantial fraction of the animal and plant species on the planet, and major regional climate disruptions."

Translation: unless we act soon to change course and avoid this business as usual future, we will almost certainly pass the Point of No Return.

By ignoring this fundamental and critical characteristic of climate systems, Lomborg's thesis that waiting to tackle climate change until technology develops is fundamentally flawed.

In a supposed 'rational discussion' of risks, trade-offs and benefits of climate change, Lomborg ignores the biggest risk of all: that in sitting idle, we will cross the Tipping Point. As a result, Lomborg advocates for delayed action against climate change, essentially arguing that we play Russian roulette with our lives and the fate of all future inhabitants of the planet.

There are other flaws with Lomborg's book, and I'd encourage you to read Goodstein's review (www.salon.com/books/
review/2007/08/29/cool_it/) for more, but I'll leave it at that for now.

Don't pick up Lomborg's book unless you're looking for more misleading, heel-dragging hot air.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307266927
Subtitle:
The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
Author:
Lomborg, Bjorn
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Environmental Science
Subject:
Economic Development
Subject:
Pollution
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Subject:
Public Policy - Environmental Policy
Subject:
Climatic changes
Subject:
Globalization
Copyright:
Edition Description:
American
Publication Date:
20070904
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
7.75 x 5.1 x 1.5 in .85 lb

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Related Subjects


Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Climate Change and Global Warming
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming Used Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307266927 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] book brimming with useful facts and common sense.... Mr. Lomborg's cost-benefit approach won't sit well with leftists who see global-warming programs as a proxy for other goals (say, reducing "materialism")....But his analysis is smart and refreshing, and it may bridge at least one divide in our too divided culture."
"Review" by , "Cool It is a highly valuable contribution to the climate-policy literature. In clear and concise prose, Lomborg diagnoses the problems plaguing contemporary climate policy, injecting a needed tonic of realism and common sense into the climate debate. And for that very reason, it is sure to make Lomborg's critics hot-under-the-collar."
"Review" by , "A reasoned addition to the debate about what to do about climate change. And it is sure to provoke just as much controversy as his last book."
"Review" by , "Bjorn Lomborg's rational and compassionate suggestions would save more lives, preserve more wilderness and have a better chance of eventually halting man-made global warming than hysterical catastrophism, global treaties, and high-minded energy rationing. Read this ingenious book."
"Review" by , "At last we have a book that puts the hype of global warming into perspective. Bjorn Lomborg's eye-opening book, Cool It, examines and meticulously documents climate change's effects and proposed solutions. An extraordinarily timely and supremely useful book."
"Synopsis" by , Written by the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, this groundbreaking book transforms the debate about global warming by offering a fresh perspective based on human needs as well as environmental concerns.
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