NYT Slams Bjørn Lomborg’s New Climate Economics Book

Stiglitz, Stern and Lomborg
Stiglitz, Stern and Lomborg. Left Joseph Stiglitz, Public Domain, Link. Middle Lord Nicholas Stern, By Royal Society uploaderOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link. Right Bjorn Lomborg. Photo by Emil Jupin – link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz, writing in NYT, Bjørn Lomborg’s new book downplays the risk of allowing global warming to occur, and ignores a study prepared by himself and Lord Nicholas Stern which suggests climate action is affordable. But Stiglitz and Stern’s own study seems to gloss over the details of how society can afford to pay for their proposed low carbon transition.

Are We Overreacting on Climate Change?

By Joseph E. Stiglitz

July 16, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet
By Bjorn Lomborg

The thesis of Bjorn Lomborg’s “False Alarm” is simple and simplistic: Activists have been sounding a false alarm about the dangers of climate change. If we listen to them, Lomborg says, we will waste trillions of dollars, achieve little and the poor will suffer the most. Science has provided a way to carefully balance costs and benefits, if we would only listen to its clarion call. And, of course, the villain in this “false alarm,” the boogeyman for all of society’s ills, is the hyperventilating media. Lomborg doesn’t use the term “fake news,” but it’s there if you read between the lines.

As with others in Lomborg’s camp, there’s the pretense in this book of balance and reference to careful studies. Yes, climate change is real. Yes, we should do something about it. But, goes his message, let’s be real, there are other problems, too. Resources are scarce. The more money we spend on climate change, the less we have to grow the economy; and as we all know (or do we?) everybody benefits from growth, especially the poor. And besides, there’s not much we can do about climate change.

Somehow, missing in his list of good policy measures are easy things like good regulations — preventing coal-burning electric generators, for example. Lomborg, a Danish statistician, exhibits a naïve belief that markets work well — ignoring a half-century of research into market failures that says otherwise — so well, in fact, that there is no reason for government to intervene other than by setting the right price of carbon.

Assessing how best to address climate change requires integrating analyses of the economy and the environment. Lomborg draws heavily on the work of William Nordhaus of Yale University, who came up with an estimate of the economic cost to limiting climate change to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. While Nordhaus seems to think it’s enormous, an international panel chaired by Lord Nicholas Stern and me (called the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices), supported by the World Bank, concluded that those goals could be achieved at a moderate price, well within the range of what the global economic system absorbs with the variability of energy prices.

This book proves the aphorism that a little knowledge is dangerous. It’s nominally about air pollution. It’s really about mind pollution.

Joseph E. Stiglitz was chief economist of the World Bank from 1992 to 2000 and was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2001.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/books/review/bjorn-lomborg-false-alarm-joseph-stiglitz.html

The 2017 study authored by Stiglitz and Stern itself is an interesting document, it leans heavily on the idea of government imposed carbon taxes, backed by government investment in public transport and “laying the groundwork for renewable-based power generation”. The Stiglitz and Stern report recommends a carbon price of “at least US$40–80/tCO2 by 2020 and US$50–100/tCO2 by 2030, provided a supportive policy environment is in place“, and lists “co-benefits” such as reducing road congestion and air pollution, as ordinary people are priced out of private automobile ownership.

What appears to be missing from Stiglitz and Stern is any realistic estimate of the capital cost of going renewable. They briefly mention nuclear as an option, but their study mostly seems to assume if the carbon price pain knob is turned up high enough, it will encourage the innovation required to achieve the desired outcome.

Stiglitz and Stern criticise Lomborg’s suggestion that radical restructuring of the energy industry is too expensive, but they don’t seem to provide their own detailed transition plan to demonstrate renewables are affordable. I’m talking about an actual priced up transition plan; tonnes of concrete required, solar panels required, battery backup required, energy required to process and refine these materials, maintenance costs.

When you consider the magnitude of material and engineering required, the implausibility of the proposed transition to renewables is obvious.

Consider the problem of energy storage. Energy storage is critical to converting intermittent renewable energy to the reliable dispatchable energy we are used to. And I’m not talking about a few minutes of Energy storage; renewable energy droughts, prolonged periods of adverse weather conditions, can last for months or even years.

The following is from THE “NEW ENERGY ECONOMY”: AN EXERCISE IN MAGICAL THINKING by Mark P. Mills Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Battery storage is quite another matter. Consider Tesla, the world’s best-known battery maker: $200,000 worth of Tesla batteries, which collectively weigh over 20,000 pounds, are needed to store the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil. A barrel of oil, meanwhile, weighs 300 pounds and can be stored in a $20 tank. Those are the realities of today’s lithium batteries. Even a 200% improvement in underlying battery economics and technology won’t close such a gap.

The annual output of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the world’s largest battery factory, could store three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand. Meanwhile, 50–100 pounds of materials are mined, moved, and processed for every pound of battery produced.

Read more: https://media4.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/R-0319-MM.pdf

Unless green advocates like Stiglitz and Stern address in detail how this gap between capabilities and engineering requirements can be bridged, it will be difficult to take their criticism of Lomborg seriously.

Imagine if say a hurricane strength blizzard hit the East Coast, blacking out the sky with storm clouds for days, forcing wind turbines to furl their blades to survive the blast, covering large areas of the USA with a thick blanket of snow and ice, driving millions of people to turn up their home heating to maximum to avoid freezing to death.

How many thousands of years worth of battery backup production would be required in this scenario to keep the grid operating, until benign weather conditions returned?

Green advocate economists seem to want to leave the implementation details to the engineers, which given strong indications in various studies that the route to 100% renewables is impossibly expensive, seems a remarkable blind spot in their claims.

Update (EW): Lomborg’s new book is Available on Amazon.

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Paul Jenkinson
July 23, 2020 6:13 pm

Could it be that some economists have the “support” of all those green billionaires who reap a fortune out of the climate hoax and associated forced taxes on “carbon pollution “ otherwise known as hot air?

Reply to  Paul Jenkinson
July 23, 2020 7:15 pm

Your study disagrees with my study, therefor your study is wrong.

Reply to  Paul Jenkinson
July 23, 2020 9:13 pm

Joseph Stiglitz, Lord Nicholas Stern and Bjorn Lomborg are ALL wrong. Stiglitz and Stern are completely wrong, and are writing false drivel. Lomborg is still wrong, but he is the least wrong of this sorry lot.

All of these scientifically-challenged Artsies believe that global warming is a dangerous problem, even though that has been scientifically disproved over 20 different ways in recent decades – the simplest disproof is that climate sensitivity to increasing atmospheric CO2 is far too low to cause dangerous global warming – end of story. There are many more highly credible disproof’s, but as Einstein famously stated “One would be enough”.

It is positively annoying to hear this drivel from uninformed so-called “professionals”, incessantly bleated in the leftist media. If it’s in the New York Times – it’s probably false.

Phil Rae
July 24, 2020 12:29 am

Alan……I follow your comments & other input to WUWT regularly and you are certainly not wrong about Stern & Stiglitz. However, to compare Lomborg with those economists is a little unfair. So far, his efforts to confront malfeasance on the part of the environmental movement and promoters of “renewable energy” have been consistent and generally well-informed. His book “The Skeptical Environmentalist” is a tour de force on exposing the lies of the green movement and deserves a place on everyone’s bookshelf, even today!

His approach on the fake crisis of CAGW might be a little more nuanced but he is pragmatic about spending money on alleviating the most important challenges facing humanity rather than wasting it on useless and very expensive efforts to reduce CO2 output or switch the energy supply to wind/solar or other fantasy power source.

So, in my book, Bjorn Lomborg is DEFINITELY one of the good guys and deserves more credit for the work he has already done in exposing the lies at the heart of the environmental movement & the climate scam.

Reply to  Phil Rae
July 24, 2020 9:54 pm

Phil – to be clear, I like Lomborg’s economic analysis, but he is still dead wrong on the science.
I have quoted his good points and as I said above, he is better than the rest. I do find it difficult to tolerate studied indifference to scientific fact – there is NO real global warming crisis.
Years ago, I tried to get Lomborg to meet Henrik Svensmark – don’t think it happened- they are both in Denmark. a country the size of a football field – I mean, how hard is that? 🙂

Phil Rae
July 26, 2020 6:06 am


Bjorn Lomborg was sat next to Svensmark on a live TV discussion 10 years ago when Svensmark suffered a heart – in fact it was Lomborg who shouted for an ambulance to be called so there is no doubt they met each other and presumably engaged in dialogue.

Lomborg is NOT a scientist but he has consistently highlighted as nonsense most of the stuff promoted by the CAGW crowd and has argued for exactly the kind of sensible debate we all argue for here at WUWT. So, I still emphatically (but respectfully) disagree with your characterisation of him as being a supporter of the CAGW narrative. That simply isn’t true and if you have read any of his work you will know that already.

I don’t have Lomborg’s latest book but “The Skeptical Environmentalist” & “Cool It” are consistent in debunking most of the claims of the catastrophists on the CAGW side. As noted previously, he has done more to debunk “green” nonsense than almost anybody I can think of so deserves a little more kudos than you are prepared to give him, IMHO.

Konstantinos Pappas
July 29, 2020 10:14 am

Lomborg himself may not believe in the Climate Change crap, but he’s being a realist and strategic.

1. Most people in the West care for the environment.
2. Most people fear for their and their kids’ lives.
3. Both sides are prone to corruption.
4. Green Energy pushed by best pals, Germany and China, does not work.

Taking these four truths into consideration leads you to what Lomborg’s position has been throughout the years: realpolitik.
You can’t attack both the “climate scientists” and “saviour green energy” simultaneously.
Attacking only green energy, which is factually ineffective, is the smartest way to go.

As a queer guy myself, I’m pretty certain Lomborg does not believe in AGW.
Generally, queer guys question things a lot more frequently and we are more skeptical of “superior” straight guys’ “truths”.

July 24, 2020 4:56 am

The NYT is preaching to its subscribers. Most paywalled papers are echo chambers.

( You can bypass the paywall with a quick select all, copy then paste into a text editor. This allows you to sample the product and see that it isn’t worth a penny.)

Reply to  Charly
July 24, 2020 8:24 am

Many paywalled articles are quickly reprinted in other publications. A web search on the title will often find one that isn’t locked off.

Alasdair Fairbairn
July 24, 2020 5:08 am

Yes these people have all been infected by the CAGW VIRUS. and seem to accept that CO2 somehow controls the global temperature, which is the current consensus Groupthink assumption.
It is, of course NOT true, due to the fact that the thermodynamics of water has not been PROPERLY included in the logic behind the computer models.

Upon it inauguration the IPCC was given the remit to establish the risks involved in human CO2 emissions. Needless to say the IPCC produced the risks; as otherwise it would have been disbanded. IMO this was done by suppressing inclusion of papers an articles which dealt with negative feedback to the GHE hypothesis which would have reduced the risks to potentially insignificant levels.

The assumption that water provides a positive feedback is probably one of the worst cases of error in the whole debate; yet it is a fundamental plank in the IPCC position.
It is not surprising then that we witness today so many examples of Group Cognitive Dissonance cluttering up the discussions, leading to a great deal of confusion, even among those of a sceptical nature.

Chris Wright
July 25, 2020 3:29 am

Yes, Lomborg is deluded – but far, far less deluded than Stiglitz and Stern.

The modern global warming hasn’t been a benefit. It’s been a huge, huge benefit.
There’s one argument that is powerful because it’s so very simple: if it had not been for the modern global warming we would still be in the depths of the Little Ice Age.
The LIA represented a cooling of about one degree C. Obviously, when the LIA came to its end there would be a warming of about one degree C. And, of course, that’s exactly what has happened.

If Sternglitz think global warming was a bad thing and they want to reverse it, then in effect they want to take us back to the depths of the LIA, a time of hunger, poverty, disease and early death. Anyone who wants that is anti-humanity.

Walter J Horsting
Reply to  Paul Jenkinson
July 24, 2020 5:56 am

Tom Steyer, Goldman Sachs…to mention a few…

July 23, 2020 6:28 pm

The past 325 years of global warming had more economic growth than in the 1,000 years before that.

There is no logical reason to assume that future warming would be bad news, and could ONLY be bad news.

As a hobby, I published a newsletter on economics for 43 years — the last issue was earlier this year

Did you know that, as a group, US economists have NEVER predicted a US recession?

No one in their right mind would listen to them on climate economics … or invite them to a party.

Reply to  Richard Greene
July 23, 2020 7:34 pm

Just in case one might show up, always wear a small, cheap calculator around your neck. Like a silver cross to a vampire.

Reply to  philincalifornia
July 24, 2020 8:51 am

Yes, wearing a calculator is the appropriate response to a group that awards itself fake Nobel Prizes for fraudulent studies that have zero utility for predicting or avoiding economic hardship or anything else to do with the economy. The collapse of oh so brief dominion of science has been hastened by science’s unwillingness to speak out against economics, chiropractic, acupuncture, the wearing of masks, green energy and other forms of magical thinking. The end started with allowing economics into Universities and now society is moving inexorably to full Idiocracy. Hard times ahead for the rational minority.

Pat Frank
Reply to  BCBill
July 24, 2020 10:53 am

BCBill, I’ve had ankylosing spondylitis since I was 19. My entire back is fused.

Chiropractic care over the years has kept me standing straight, no matter the best efforts of AS to put me in a wheelchair.

Their subluxation theory is mostly a crock. But biomechanically, chiropractors can do a lot of good. Apart from myself, I know multiple people helped by chiropractic care.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  BCBill
July 24, 2020 11:19 am

Please don’t lump my chiropractor in there, she always helps me immensely

Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
July 24, 2020 11:51 am

Pat and Pat, chiropractors do help people and so do acupuncturists. In desperation I have gone to both. I am sure that shamans and astrologists have also helped many people over the years. This does not change the reality that all of the above are based on absolute nonsense that has been repeatedly demonstrated to be nonsense. All borrow heavily from other ‘disciplines’ to pad out their core trick. I think it is fascinating and worth understanding why so many people are helped by interventions that have no physical or physiological basis. It might be related to why mainstream media continue to seek out the opinions of economists when they could receive much better value by consulting a cab driver. With a cab driver, you not only get suspect opinions, but you hopefully arrive at a point that was actually predicted.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
July 24, 2020 2:17 pm

BCBill, you have no knowledge of my experience, or of the real physical help I’ve gotten from chiropractic treatment.

I don’t disagree with you with respect to chiropractic theory. But as regards the physical help chiropractors can provide, your personal experience does not negate the field.

Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
July 26, 2020 9:15 am

Pat Frank

Hear, hear.
To me chiropractor was an alternative to surgeons knife. Which, by the way, the surgeon recommended to try chiropractor first. And he was right.
Doctors don´t believe it, and I don´t believe it, but there´s no need to believe if it makes my back and neck painless. That´s enough to me. It´s easier to live without strong painkillers.

Reply to  Richard Greene
July 23, 2020 8:31 pm

“There is no logical reason to assume that future warming would be bad news, and could ONLY be bad news.”
Exactly, and that’s assuming that there will be any significant warming. Just super expensive non-solutions to non-problems.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  KT66
July 24, 2020 4:06 am

“Exactly, and that’s assuming that there will be any significant warming.”


These guys keep talking about CO2-caused climate change, but there’s never been any evidence presented to show that it is real.

These guys are assuming too much. That’s not the way a proper scientist or economist should proceed. In order to reach a solid conclusion, you have to start out with a solid foundation, and there is no such solid foundation when it comes to Human-caused Climate Change. The basic facts of the matter have never been established.

None of these people could provide you with evidence for Human-caused Climate Change, yet they act like they know what they are talking about. Someone ought to ask them about this discrepancy.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Richard Greene
July 23, 2020 8:53 pm

“The past 325 years of global warming had more economic growth than in the 1,000 years before that.”

I think your estimate is very low. I’d say it exceeds all of human civilization.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
July 24, 2020 8:48 am

Perhaps even all of human existence.
Maybe even more, if you consider the fact that stone tools were invented prior to the emergence of modern humans.

paul courtney
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
July 24, 2020 10:19 am

Jeff Alberts: I disagree, when Eve transferred an apple to Adam, it was like an infinite growth of economic activity. After that, we agree. So, most growth in last six thousand years?

Reply to  Richard Greene
July 24, 2020 3:50 pm

Wm Briggs has it right- economic models are only good for examining the data you already have. They simply cannot be depended on to make reliable predictions.

All of this economic claptrap, and climate boondoggles are due to the fact that in the climate the various processes need to be modeled down to sub-millimeter scales. An example is a vortex- non-linear flow and energy loss. Around 1mm a vortex in water(ocean anyone?) simply disappears.

In addition there aren’t any processes in the climate that are linear, or even reliably predictable. They simply can’t be modeled using averages of some measure because they don’t operate on averages but instantaneous values. Probably the worst one is fluid flow- the transition between laminar flow and turbulent flow is critical, but completely unpredictable by a model. Some models, particularly aerodynamic ones can sometimes indicate when and where laminar flow is likely to become turbulent, but even then if the problem critical the design has to be backed up with actual wind tunnel and model testing.

Boeing’s 737 MAX problem highlighted this on a small scale. A change to a larger diameter engine required either a higher engine mount- which caused the crashes by disrupting airfllow, or major design changes to the whole plane to raise the landing gear. Of course they also made other mistakes with the MCAS system and the angle of attack indicators.

Boeing’s problems are simple, compared to climate. As Edward Lorenz showed over 50 years ago, climate is not a thing, but a process that cannot now, and probably never will, be suitable for predictions for more than a few weeks.

Reply to  Philo
July 25, 2020 3:28 pm

Note that AOA issues are NOT Boeing specific; Airbus had issues too. And because the information is fed to the computer that has full authority on all Airbus planes(*), an error of AOA reading can be catastrophic (and has been catastrophic at least once).

(Note that in case of issues with different AOA sensors don’t have to disagree, as they can fail at the same time for the same reason.)

(*) unlike the Boeing approach were the pilot MUST have full authority – except with the MCAS, that the pilot couldn’t turn off(**)

(**) many “experts” asserted on French TV, and elsewhere, that the pilot could simply turn it off; that’s blatantly untrue, the only thing that can be turned off is the electrical trim, without it the plane is essentially not manageable

July 23, 2020 6:31 pm

The NY Slimes condemn?….that is an endorsement in my book….if they endorse, you know it is wrong…Yee Shall Judge Him by His Enemies.

July 23, 2020 6:32 pm

Not exactly a fair comparison. The oil can be burned only once. But the battery is not energy, it stores it, discharges it, and may be refilled. Now how you get the energy to recharge is, and how much that weights over the lifetime of the battery, is a separate issue.

“Battery storage is quite another matter. Consider Tesla, the world’s best-known battery maker: $200,000 worth of Tesla batteries, which collectively weigh over 20,000 pounds, are needed to store the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil. A barrel of oil, meanwhile, weighs 300 pounds and can be stored in a $20 tank. Those are the realities of today’s lithium batteries. Even a 200% improvement in underlying battery economics and technology won’t close such a gap.”

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  a_scientist
July 23, 2020 6:54 pm

Correct. Of course, you stopped short: it would take approximately 4000 completely free recharges of that battery to finally equal the energy you can buy for the price of a single barrel of oil. So if you used that battery for 11 years, draining and completely filling (again – filling for FREE), every single day, you’d finally break even.

Reply to  Shanghai Dan
July 23, 2020 7:14 pm

Assuming the battery lasts for 11 years.

John Pickens
Reply to  MarkW
July 23, 2020 8:03 pm

And winged unicorns provided the energy to recharge them.

Reply to  John Pickens
July 24, 2020 1:33 am

How much methane per unicrn could they emit?

Reply to  John Pickens
July 24, 2020 5:02 am

Can be done, if you feed your unicorns on brussels sprouts.

Bob Hunter
Reply to  Shanghai Dan
July 24, 2020 6:27 am

Lets not forget there is approx 50 yrs of proven Cobalt reserves at current consumption levels. Whereas there is enough oil for hundreds years of consumption.
Ok, I know new cobalt deposits will be found but ‘they’ are also predicting the number of EVs will increase dramatically.

ps Glad to have the site up and running again.

Reply to  Bob Hunter
July 24, 2020 8:57 am

You are making the same mistake that the peak oilers make. You are assuming that proven reserves are all that exist.
At current consumption rates, proven oil reserves would only last about 30 years.

David Lilley
Reply to  a_scientist
July 24, 2020 3:29 am

On the basis of currently known reserves of rare earth elements, what is the maximum total battery capacity which could actually be built in TwH ? How does this compare to the world’s total energy consumption, or even just to its total electricity consumption ? Are there enough materials to even make it possible to have enough battery back up for renewables ?

Reply to  David Lilley
July 24, 2020 4:31 am

This is THE question, but I’ve yet to see an answer to it.


Reply to  David Lilley
July 24, 2020 6:37 am

“How does this compare to the world’s total energy consumption”

It does not need too. It is only the western world that is hell bent on destroying their civilization. The rest of the world will gleefully pick up the pieces. Thank heavens I am 73.

Reply to  David Lilley
July 24, 2020 9:03 am

The solution is obvious.
Reduce the energy usage of the masses to the point where renewables and batteries are able to supply the needs. Of course our masters will be permitted to use as much as they want. They are after all, morally superior beings. (We know that, because they keep telling us.)

David Lilley
Reply to  David Lilley
July 24, 2020 1:31 pm

This report is interesting.

Take a look at P.3

If we replace all of the UK vehicle fleet with EVs, and assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation batteries, we would need the following materials:
• 207,900 tonnes of cobalt – just under twice the annual global production;
• 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate – three quarters of the world’s production;
• at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium – nearly the entire world production of neodymium;
• 2,362,500 tonnes of copper – more than half the world’s production in 2018.
And this is just for the UK.

Reply to  a_scientist
July 24, 2020 9:31 am

Yes, but…

The point was that under adverse weather, the “renewables” wind and solar will temporarily stop renewing. A massive winter storm could leave a green-only energy system dependent on the batteries. So there better be enough battery-storage to supply the system for days.

John Pickens
July 23, 2020 6:44 pm

Remember, calling solar panels, windmills, and lithium batteries “renewable” is the Big Lie.

There is absolutely no documentation to demonstrate:

1. That it takes less energy to create a solar/battery or windmill/battery system than they will ever produce in their lifetimes.

2. That it is possible to recycle the above systems into replacement systems when they reach their end of life.

Unless these are demonstrated, they are indeed less “renewable” than the fossil fuels they “replace”.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  John Pickens
July 23, 2020 8:30 pm

Not forgetting coal and quartz are burned to make silica a major component in solar panels.

On the outer Barcoo
July 23, 2020 6:45 pm

The NYT has credibility? Who knew?

Christopher Chantrill
July 23, 2020 7:02 pm

Dear me. Stiglitz doesn’t know his honorifics. By saying “Lord Nicholas Stern” he is treating him as the son of duke or a marquess. Which I doubt.

Properly, Stern should be referred to as Nicholas Lord Stern. Because he is a British baron in his own right.

All this vitally important information is available at La Wik, and good to know because, believe me, the British Sir Humphreys like to be properly addressed, my lord.

Of course, since Henry VIII disarmed the nobles a while back, Stern does not have the right to raise his own noble army. So he is really just a courtier.

So, I suppose, a courtier is a bureaucrat with a title.

Reply to  Christopher Chantrill
July 24, 2020 8:51 am

That’s like saying that Stiglitz has a Nobel prize when he actually won The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. There is no a Nobel prize in Economics.

paul courtney
Reply to  Christopher Chantrill
July 24, 2020 10:29 am

I’m guessing Cromwell was a commoner, with no right to raise any sort of army. To paraphrase Galileo, “but he moves.”

July 23, 2020 7:12 pm

Being panned by the NYT puts Lomborg into some august company.

Reply to  MarkW
July 24, 2020 5:41 am

Yes, indeed

July 23, 2020 7:27 pm

John P.:
# 1 & 2: Exactly.
According to Vaclav Smil the energy returned on energy invested for solar is ~1-1.5 .
According to MIT’s Nov 2019 report on electric vehicles there is no economic way to recycle Li
batteries. https://energy.mit.edu/research/mobilityofthefuture/
[IIRC the same is true for solar panels and large parts of wind turbines]
Last year I attended a delightful talk by astronaut Cady Coleman PhD about her extended stay
on the ISS. During it she commented on all the Li batteries along the spine of the station.
In the public Q & A afterwards I asked how often the batteries have to be replaced? Her answer
was “Oh, every 5 to 10 years, or sooner if there was a problem.”
So not only do you need an outrageous initial investment but it is also a recurring one.
Magical thinking indeed!

Reply to  Bill Zipperer
July 24, 2020 4:28 am

To be fair to Li batteries in space, they’re subject to radiation that similar items on Earth are not.

Having said that… if Tesla-standard batteries are anything like the batteries in our phones, 5 years seems optimistic.

July 23, 2020 7:39 pm

We have Bjorn’s book, Michael Moore’s movie, and Michael Shellenburger’s book. That’s a lot in a short period of time. The best strategy for the greenies is to ignore those documents and hope they fade away.

The other thing that’s happening is the very muted push back against new nuclear technology.

We could be reaching the tipping point where enough people realize the futility of windmills and solar panels that everyone is forced to face reality and give up on them.

July 23, 2020 8:15 pm

” ignores a study prepared by himself and Lord Nicholas Stern which suggests climate action is affordable”

A study that climate action is affordable would be relevant if and when it can be shown that climate action will moderate the rate of warming.

At the foundation of this argument is the assumption without the evidence that atmospheric composition is responsive to fossil fuel emissions such that climate action will reduce the rate at which atmospheric co2 concentration is rising.



Reply to  Chaamjamal
July 23, 2020 9:58 pm
Juan Slayton
July 23, 2020 8:24 pm

Buyer Alert!
I asked the wife to order Bjorn’s book, but she inadvertantly ordered Marc Siegel’s 2005 book of the same title. Siegel’s book is worth a read, however, especially as he calls out the deliberate spreading of fear by trusted authorities, including government agencies, political leaders, and the mainstream media. A quote:

We can’t trust our risk experts because their facts are amplified by the government, the media, and public advocates, each depending on different agendas. But this doesn’t mean we can automatically trust our intuition either, which, as de Becker wrote is too often “mis-informed.” Any resolution of this dichotomy between misinforming experts and misguided intuition must involve retraining in how to decognize danger.
–False Alarm, p. 81

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Juan Slayton
July 23, 2020 8:45 pm


Pat Frank
Reply to  Juan Slayton
July 24, 2020 11:00 am

Still, “decognize” is a useful neologism, Juan. “Decognize” describes exactly what’s going on in our universities these days.

July 23, 2020 8:26 pm

“….. backed by government investment in public transport…….”

I’m not giving up my fossil fueled private transportation in the post covid world. Are you?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  KT66
July 23, 2020 8:51 pm

You’ll be welcome to keep collector’s car in your museum garage, because they intend to make the liquid hydrocarbon fuel you need to drive it totally unaffordable to you and me. Even conversion to an EV will be unaffordable with exorbitant electricity rates that won’t even make the billionaire class flinch one bit. Remember, it’ll be made expensive with taxes, taxes that the government won’t pay, so the political class would live large on the government largess.
Any doubt of that can be quickly erased by simply looking at how the US Congress treats itself on the taxpayer dime.

Ian W
Reply to  KT66
July 25, 2020 4:13 am

There are places where ‘the government’ will not invest in public transport. This will apply not only in Wyoming but the Highlands of Scotland. This is always a problem when rules are made by townies who think 5 miles is a long way and multiple types of public transport are within half a mile.

Now consider a New England snow storm with multiple power cuts with out of charge bricked EV’s buried in snow drifts. Or Florida where the last few years have seen hurricanes tracking North up the state and residents of the Keys have had to evacuate as far as Georgia. An ICE vehicle with spare fuel in the back can do that ~600 mile drive in one hop, not so the electric vehicles: And when the EVs need to recharge in central Florida they will find the power is out due to outer bands of the storm. EVs will become bricked road blocks on state roads and interstates. This is not a case of the government not wanting the population to travel; in hurricane evacuations the government instructs the population to travel or they may die.

There are many risk areas with global adoption of EVs that will not go away until batteries have the same energy density as a tankful of hydrocarbon fuel.

July 23, 2020 8:33 pm

This countries’ co2 emissions graph at top right of the link wrecks their stupid arguments, just look at China, India and non OECD developing countries over the last 30 + years.
Even a child of 5 should understand this graph , but apparently it’s too difficult for Stern and this so called Nobel laureate?
Lomborg and Shellenberger have very simple maths on their side and if we repeat the last 30 years AGAIN we would be as barking mad as Stern and his mad mates.


Robert of Texas
July 23, 2020 8:36 pm

Well, if the NYT “agreed” with Bjørn I would assume his hypothesis must be flawed, as the NYT has not been right in many, many years (if ever). So his book passes the NYT test.

Honestly how can anyone still believe the Green Energy Movement has anything to do with Green Energy – its about socialism, wealth distribution, and politics.

If we wanted clean energy we would be building new generation nuclear power plants.

Joel O'Bryan
July 23, 2020 8:45 pm

The Stiglitz and Stern Plan is quite simple really when you read between the lines.

The SS Plan: Make all forms of transportation energy unaffordable to the masses, including making electricity too expensive for the Average Joe and family to have an EV and afford single family-style homes. The masses now forced into public transportation and public housing the once affluent and once socially mobile middle-class will be reduced to a Soviet-style meager existence. An existence of shuffling to work to offices and factories on public transportation. It would be transporation system that runs when the govt feels like it, and shut down if needed for population control to prevent peaceful protests. The family life would consist of living a forest of concrete-gray block apartments; all of it straight out of Orwell’s 1984, hidden listening and spy devices inclusive. Meanwhile the Progressive intelligentsia like S&S see themselves and their family somehow above all of this serfdom, serving the billionaire class and the political elites to gain favors and access to the good life.

1984 is the SS Plan’s blueprint. Welcome to the Liberal’s Hell on Earth.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 23, 2020 11:11 pm

“The family life would consist of living a forest of concrete-gray block apartments; all of it straight out of Orwell’s 1984, hidden listening and spy devices inclusive”

You just described the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block (East Germany etc) to a tee, without the climate extortion nonsense. That was total Gov’t communistic/socialist control with a 5 year plan. But the result is the same for now…the ‘party’ officials will dine on fine wine and caviar, while the serfs will make do with 2 day old stale bread. A recipe for some kind of a revolution which seems to rear its ugly head every generation or three.

Reply to  Earthling2
July 24, 2020 9:12 am

5 year plans:

I have seen a gradual acceptance of that term in recent years. Hillary spoke of 5 year economic plans in 2016. Back in the day, the mention of such a thing would be laughed at as a purely communist notion. It would bring to mind successive failures of 5 year plans and famines in Stalin’s Russia.

There is no place for central planning in a free society. Free enterprise economics and free markets are incompatible with 5 year plans.

Reply to  KT66
July 24, 2020 10:44 am

One constant with liberals, it doesn’t matter how many times a plan has failed in the past. This time it will work, because this time we will be the ones in charge.

Reply to  KT66
July 24, 2020 1:16 pm

They can get away with it now because they are pandering to the younger generations. Those who were not raised during the cold war, Berlin wall, listening to stories of those who lived through it (now passed away), etc.. One by one we are losing the voting bulwark of older generations that know better to be replaced by those who think it’s a great idea.

Ian W
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 25, 2020 4:26 am

An existence of shuffling to work to offices and factories on public transportation.

COVID-19 has just blown that world view out of the water. People are now ‘working remotely’ and have realized that once you are remote, you don’t need to be within commuting distance or even in the same timezone. Living in high taxed cities in small apartments with inflated rents can easily be swapped for living close to the beach, to skiing, to woods to anywhere you want. Cities are going to die indeed some are already comatose. The beancounters support remote working – why pay for thousands of square feet of office space when it has just been shown the company can continue with most of the staff remote? As there are less commuters needing lunches the cafe’s and restaurants die and the taxi trade dies – this is happening right now in London and New York City – they are ghost towns with occasional riots. As the population drops the left wing ‘leaders’ of the city are putting up taxes and charges to keep their revenue up and that will encourage more people to work remotely.

The Agenda 21 view of everyone in giant conurbations with limited travel between them is a COVID-19 victim.

tsk tsk
July 23, 2020 9:14 pm

Stiglitz is possibly the only other “Nobel” winner (there is no Nobel prize in economics) who can rival Krugtron the Innumerate for being wrong so often.

For an economist to state that “[Lomborg] exhibits a naïve belief that markets work well — ignoring a half-century of research into market failures that says otherwise,” well, that’s just not someone you should ever take seriously, especially when you consider just how successful his precious World Bank has been.

Reply to  tsk tsk
July 24, 2020 9:09 am

The vast majority of those “market failures” occurred as the result of government interventions in the market place.

Reply to  tsk tsk
July 24, 2020 9:10 am

The rest of the so called “market failures” are instances when the market failed to deliver the results that the liberals wanted it to produce.

Nick Graves
Reply to  tsk tsk
July 24, 2020 10:07 am

I was planning a post to the same effect!

Stiglitz seems even dafter than Keynes to those of us with a more Austrian bent when it comes to understanding markets or economies. Or human nature…


It’s all about justifying Gov’t meddling and makes no real sense. Unless you’re a Marxist.

John F. Hultquist
July 23, 2020 9:44 pm

Bjørn Lomborg apparently thinks that global warming is mostly caused by CO2 emissions from human actions. I don’t. He also thinks there are much better things societies should be using their wealth to improve. I do also, or did.
Panic2020 (official response to the virus) has destroyed and continues to destroy wealth, livelihoods, and lives. A generation of education has and is crumbling.
I’m old enough that I can’t see a bright future.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
July 24, 2020 10:47 am

I exchanged a few e-mails with Lomborg on that subject, back when his first book came out.
His response was that he was an economist not a climate scientist, so he was just going to accept what the climate scientists said. He was not interested in debating whether the climate scientists were right or not.

July 24, 2020 12:22 am

It is a terrible shame we can’t harness the vast quantities of wishful thinking Stiglitz and Krugman are producing to do useful work.

July 24, 2020 12:52 am

The answer is quite simple: prepare honest total CAPEX, OPEX and Replacement unit power costs, including for unreliable systems’ standby units, enhanced and extended power transmission works needed, and all waste management and de-commissioning costs when comparing power generation options available. End all subsidies of all forms and price in the benefits of CO2 as well as the penalties when determining carbon tax levels; buy in power for national transmission grids on a single base load basis without any green priority choices. Then let the suppliers decide the mix of power they generate and let the market decide!

On this basis , it will be blatantly shown that all present renewable power systems will be massively uneconomic, massively uncompetitive, and commercially not viable.

Reply to  Peter Wilson
July 24, 2020 12:57 am

I forgot land costs!

July 24, 2020 12:53 am

“Stiglitz and Stern criticise Lomborg’s suggestion that radical restructuring of the energy industry is too expensive, but they don’t seem to provide their own detailed transition plan to demonstrate renewables are affordable”

Well look: in a large part of Europe the restructuring is well underway and the provision of storage is kicking off big time… Many European countries already get 30 to 50% of electricity from renewables, with a huge pipeline of new projects and most countries have shut down coal power plants or have a schedule for doing so – there are just a handful of building and planned coal plants.

In europe it is just a question of how quickly the process gets completed…

Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 1:31 am

“the provision of storage is kicking off big time”

Just that inefficiency of storage alone should be a big red flag that you are advocating the inefficient utilization of resources and manpower makes this production very inefficient storage including the already inefficient solar/wind production. Look what the cost of electricity is now, and I would bet the masses would love to go nuclear, or at least go CCGT with Nat Gas until safer and less costly Gen 4 Nuclear is available. There is a lot of cheaper LNG available for a very long time. Anyway, all that renewable junk, much of it made in China, is going to be toxic waste in a few short years. Who pays for that decommissioning after 15-20 years?

Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 1:36 am

Meanwhile, the Germans and the Danes are being financially ruined by the highest electricity prices in the World. Well done!

Hans Erren
Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 1:49 am

Griff Take the Netherlands, there js no storage in place for buffering intermittent wind and sun and there are no plans. The majority of “renewable” energy in NL is from burning biomass, which receives increasing criticism from environmental groups as prime forest is being milled for burning.

Hans Erren
Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 2:55 am

Griff Germany is closing down nuclear power plants and opening up lignite brown coal pits. Sweden, Belgium and France also announced to close down nuclear, how do you think zero carbon emission will be reached by 2050?

Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 6:19 am

re Griff’s claim about renewables supplying much ie 30 to 50% of Europe ‘s energy
I cite data for the UK for 2018 for Electricity production
Natural gas 41% , coal 1% and nuclear 23% supplied 65 %
Wind and solar 21%
Bio- fuel ( which means burning timber sourced from North America ) 8 a real scam to call that a green renewable
Imports ( largely from France and Netherlands nuclear plants) 7 %
Other posts highlight the unreliability of wind and the need for back up

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 8:48 am

How much new storage is thst? In what form?

TWh please, not a few MWh of battery.

Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 9:14 am

As usual, griff is delusional.
30 to 50%, just because they manage to reach that level for a few seconds, a few times a week, doesn’t prove that they are able to do that 100% of the time.
The batteries that have been installed only provide transition power. A few seconds to minutes at most.

griff actually believes that shutting down coal is the same thing as not using fossil fuel for power.

Like most leeches, griff doesn’t care how much other people have to pay for power, so long as his government checks don’t bounce.

Pat Frank
Reply to  MarkW
July 24, 2020 11:05 am

One can only hope that griff ends up living in the paradise he advocates.

Reply to  griff
July 24, 2020 11:13 am

No European country is getting 30 to 50% of its electricity from weather-dependent renewables. If those figures are correct you are including hydro, which the EU doesn’t recognise as renewable and which is limited to countries with the right geography (in the UK its contribution is negligible) and wood chips imported from North America.
This morning weather-dependent renewables in the UK were producing just 0.75 GW of the 20 GW low early-morning summer demand.

Reply to  RobH
July 24, 2020 12:18 pm

In griff’s world, if a country makes it to 30% renewable energy, for even one second, once during the year, then that qualifies as getting 30% of it’s energy from renewables.

Reply to  RobH
July 25, 2020 3:41 pm

Under Macron’s regime, electric damns are being DESTROYED. So the really useful “RE” production is going down.

That and the closure of one of the most reliable nuclear plants…

July 24, 2020 12:54 am

The problem in the UK is shown by the low level of wind power (currently 2.21%) generated over the past few weeks, and the low level of solar power (currently 5.21%) produced over the past few weeks.
How many batteries would we have needed to keep the country going?

O.T. What is the amount of CO2 produced in making an iPhone? Include everything from mining the metals needed to the packaging and advertising. And then add the CO2 produced by the server farms etc that are needed to run the things.

Alasdair Fairbairn
Reply to  StephenP
July 24, 2020 4:34 am

Over the last 13 days the huge investment in wind power in the U.K. produced an average of 1.17 Kwhrs. for the individual. OK it could boil a kettle or two but not much more and it probably cost you around 30p over and above what appeared on the bill, due to the subsidies.
Thank heaven for reliables.
How on earth can the green activists go on claiming that wind power is cheap?

Reply to  StephenP
July 24, 2020 9:17 am

It’s currently summer in the UK. Presumably the solar number will drop drastically as winter sets in.

Hans Erren
July 24, 2020 1:40 am

When cars will be all-electric in 2050, there won’t be a climate need for more public transport, and road congestion will still be the same, because not everybody is able to work from home or walk to work. Road damage will be worse because all-electric cars are heavier, which also means more aerosols from breaks and tyre wear.

Carl Friis-Hansen
July 24, 2020 1:42 am

Thanks Eric Worrall,
I particular liked the comparison stuff.
Thought a table would be helpful too, so I created one based on the figures in the article.

For same energy capacity, an estimated comparison Tesla battery vs one barrel oil:
Tesla battery 1 barrel oil (160 liter)
Capital cost containment ………. 200.000 $ 20 $
Weight component ……………… 10.000 kg 150 kg
Weight mining, move and process … 500.000 kg 300 kg*
*) Carl Friis-Hansen’s personal guess.

July 24, 2020 2:13 am

Assume a can opener.

Ed Zuiderwijk
July 24, 2020 2:47 am

Stern is a fool. Don’t pay attention to anything he says. When he, as an economist, was (playing) scientific adviser (!) to the Blair government he lamentably scared the living daylights out of the gullibles by claiming that Antarctica would melt by the end of the century.

July 24, 2020 5:40 am

Your scenario for an energy delivery catastrophe is just one possibility. Others are more likely.

In order to meet the goals heating and transportation are electrified. A nor’easter storm dumps snow across the NE USA followed by a large deep high pressure system with temperatures in the single digits (F) in late December. The extra load for heating and transportation increases demand a lot, the snow covers the solar cells so even the little amount available in the NE USA in late December is cut to zero and the winds are so light in the high pressure system that wind energy goes very low too. This is not an unusual weather situation and the amount of energy storage necessary to get through it will break the bank but if you don’t have the power people will freeze in the dark.

Whenever I hear someone claim that the green solution that depends upon electrification is more resilient I have to laugh. Imagine what will happen once that solution is implemented and there is an ice storm.

Bruce Cobb
July 24, 2020 6:21 am

Stiglitz sez: “It’s really about mind pollution.”
Yeah, we noticed. Also known as propaganda, which Stiglitz uses to push his economy-destroying anti-“carbon” agenda.

July 24, 2020 6:51 am

“How does this compare to the world’s total energy consumption”

It does not need too. It is only the western world that is hell bent on destroying their civilization. The rest of the world will gleefully pick up the pieces. Thank heavens I am 73.

July 24, 2020 7:50 am

“…exhibits a naïve belief that markets work well — ignoring a half-century of research into market failures that says otherwise”

This emotional critique ignores the real and obvious history that show that markets work better than anything else, including Keynsean autonomous spending, in that they recover from the frequent and necessary failures inherent to any human enterprise. I’m pretty sure that Lomborg never says that markets work without failure, but pretty sure that Stiglitz will try to tell us that governments never do, a proposition requiring a helluva lot more blind faith than Lomborg expresses.

Reply to  d
July 24, 2020 9:21 am

Almost all so called “market failures” are either the result of government interventions in the market, or because the market fails to produce the results the liberals are after.

The fact that we don’t factor in the non-existent costs of CO2 into the price of energy is to them, a market failure.

Reply to  MarkW
July 26, 2020 11:14 am

An objective definition of a market failure would be: if you can sign a “compact” to obtain a given result, everybody (in a market) would sign it.

I don’t think that’s often the case.

George Daddis
July 24, 2020 8:37 am

“…. easy things like good regulations — preventing coal-burning electric generators, for example.

Easy? Go peddle that nonsense to China and India.
And of course, those two countries’ emissions will dwarf any CO2 reductions the Left imagines will result from destroying Western economies.

July 24, 2020 9:30 am

Last I checked, Stiglitz belonged to socialistinternational.org.

That’s all we need to know about him and his motives and views on Conservative Christian capitalist caused catastrophic climate change.

Nicholas Mearing-Smith
July 24, 2020 9:40 am

I thought that Lomborg’s book was politically astute. Had he criticised the basic AGW thesis, he could easily be shot down or ignored by believers. By accepting their (flawed) science, he allows a serious argument to be accepted, that current policies are wrong, even if you believe there is a problem. I don’t care if other people believe in AGW or not, so long as they stop spending my tax money and raising electricity bills to subsidise solar panels, windmills and electric cars. If his book helps end such insanity, who cares what silly ideas people have?

July 24, 2020 1:37 pm

Stiglitz knows which side to make up stories for. Other economists who have encountered him know he is an arse. Count him as the Mann of econ circles and he has no training in these areas.

July 24, 2020 1:48 pm

They do have one thing in common and that is a knowledge gap on the battery materials in the context of perceived scarcity. Here’s the thing–it will take many gullible mine investors to lose money in searching for and producing enough nickel to produce that many batteries. More importantly it requires many investors and governments to lose money in supplying that nickel with falling prices compared to their starting point and over time. This is why scarcities develop and make the news and then rips those who extrapolate from the wrong price signal. It is an obscure corner of markets and economics that ensnares the uninformed who dare to put skin in the game. But then there are those who never intend to compete like Solyndra and go for the quick payoff and exit with lack of competent due diligence in government agencies as their main assumption.

Walt D.
July 24, 2020 2:01 pm

All this may be moot. COVID-19 has closed down the World economy. They assume that they can turn the switch back on and everything will go back to the way it was. I am more doubtful. It may be “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again”.
It may be several years before things get back to norrmal.

Walt D.
July 24, 2020 2:14 pm

Before the pandemic, people in Africa were ask to prioritize spending.
“Climate Change” can in as a very low priority with Health Care and Education occupying the top spots.
I imagine that people will now want even more spent on Health Care.

July 24, 2020 9:37 pm

Stern is a serial economics failure at predicting things related to climate.

“According to Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz”

which sounds impressive until one learns exactly what that Nobel Prize was for.

“for their analyses of markets with asymmetric information”.

Markets with asymmetric information
Many markets are characterized by asymmetric information: actors on one side of the market have much better information than those on the other.

“Joseph Stiglitz clarified the opposite type of market adjustment, where poorly informed agents extract information from the better informed, such as the screening performed by insurance companies dividing customers into risk classes by offering a menu of contracts where higher deductibles can be exchanged for significantly lower premiums.”

A Nobel Prize for Economics that isn’t about actually performing economic assessments for large corporations, states, countries or the globe.

Stiglitz’s book with Stern appears to be an alignment of equals far from being any sort of savants.

July 25, 2020 3:21 pm

I see many people citing clear examples of market failures – that are actually blatant failure of regulation by an authority. For example not transitioning to IPv6 is a classical example of failure (*), when:
– IPv6 supporting OSes are available
– routers handle IPv6
but ISP were not offering IPv6 adresses and routing at the time. The ISP get IP ranges from a regulator, not a free market. They can’t trade these as they don’t own IP ranges, they are just have a licence.

Not saying that IP ranges should be traded, but it’s classical example of fiat resource and failure of actors to act in the common good (transitioning to IPv6 Internet).

(*) see https://www.bortzmeyer.org/ipv6-et-l-echec-du-marche.html
(I recommend his website for non political issues.)

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