False Alarm: Book Review

How climate change panic costs us trillions, hurts the poor, and fails to fix the planet

by Bjorn Lomborg

(Basic Books: 2020)

Reviewed by Thomas P. Sheahen

            Danish Economist Bjorn Lomborg is already well known for eight other books at the intersection of economics and public policy. “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” published in 2001 established him as a perceptive observer of the cost of addressing the world’s environmental problems. He provided evidence to show that, with prosperity, civilization is addressing the major environmental issues.  Lomborg’s attention to the numbers hidden beneath the slogans gave his analysis a credibility that could not be brushed aside, to the chagrin of some prominent politicians and environmental organizations of the time.

 Lomborg’s facility in using simple language to explain economic concepts is put to work once again in this new book “False Alarm,” which is devoted to the topic of climate change. His first chapter, entitled “Why do we get climate change so wrong?” warns the reader to anticipate a critical examination of prevailing public beliefs about climate change. That critical examination compares exaggerated headlines with numerical realities in a very sober way, using graphs to condense large quantities of data into clear presentations.  His fifth chapter asks “What is global warming going to cost us?” Rather than enumerate big numbers with lots of zeroes, Lomborg displays the expected costs as a percentage of global GDP (Gross Domestic Product), which gives a much better representation of the relative importance of climate-related costs. That writing technique holds the reader’s attention, as contrasted to the glaze-over effect of many economic treatises about world issues.

            In a cluster of 5 chapters, Lomborg addresses “How not to fix climate change.” With his global perspective on economics, he explains why strategies like the Paris Accord won’t work. Chapter 10 “How climate policy hurts the poor,” is perhaps the most important chapter in the book.  After recognizing the projected multi-trillion costs of proposed global climate strategies, Lomborg then presents to us the real numbers pertaining to real poor people. Toward the end of the chapter, he reminds us that “Today there are about 650 million extremely poor people in the world.” He then summarizes:

            “It turns out that the theoretical cost to lift everyone on the planet out of extreme poverty would be less than $100 billion per year. Compare this to our current trajectory: we’ve committed to spending $1 trillion to $2 trillion a year just on the almost entirely ineffective Paris Accord.  Every month the cost will be the same as the amount that could lift everyone from extreme poverty. This strikes me as obscene. As rich countries commit to going carbon-neutral, the cost will escalate to tens of trillions of dollars per year, to make a small temperature change in a century’s time.  Just a couple of days of these new, higher costs could transform the world by ending extreme poverty entirely.”  

            Lomborg’s figures are correct; his explanation is clear; his argument is compelling.  It is obscene to continue on such an international spending trajectory.

            The fourth major block of the book, “How to fix climate change,” presents several much better ways to approach the climate change problem.  Bear in mind that Lomborg definitely believes that mankind’s production of CO2 is harmful, because it will cause the global temperature to rise.

Lomborg employs the economic model named DICE, primarily associated with Nobel-prizewinning economist William Nordhaus, to analyze a proposed tax on CO2 emissions. The consecutive figures in chapter 11 show the different costs of achieving certain temperature-change targets, culminating in the very important Figure 11.7. There the “optimum” solution is compared with the cost of achieving certain smaller temperature changes, and with the cost of doing nothing. It turns out the “optimum” and the “do nothing” options differ by only a small temperature margin (0.36 oC) and a small change in costs (97.4% of total global GDP vs 97.0%).  Those differences are both entirely within the “noise level” of any world-forecasting economic model.  Lomborg does not draw attention to that point, but it’s clear to the attentive reader that there is no point at all in further considering a “carbon tax.”

In consecutive chapters Lomborg stresses the value of investing in R&D.  The gloomy presumption that we’re stuck with existing conditions has never been true before.  He cites examples of how innovation has changed our lives in many ways, and it is reasonable to expect more innovations in the future.  It’s not a zero-sum game.  Adaptation (as contrasted to mitigation) is what mankind has always done before, and it’s both simple and inexpensive. Lomborg also endorses spending money doing research on geo-engineering, but he doesn’t want to implement any such schemes yet.

Most important of all, however, are actions that advance prosperity. Trade-offs are always necessary, but helping the poor rise out of poverty is much cheaper and more effective than any other plan to protect the environment.  Policies aimed at reducing human greenhouse-gas emissions “… cost us resources that could have been spent making people’s live healthier, longer, and more prosperous.  If we focused some of these resources on effective development and human capital investments, then people would be more able to afford expensive green energy sources and more capable of investing in adaptation.  As a society, we would have more money to respond to climate change.”  — Again, not a zero-sum game.

            In his final chapter, Lomborg emphasizes the importance of improving the world, and underlines the inevitability of trade-offs. He points to the low cost of addressing problems like malnutrition and tuberculosis, which are under-funded. He laments that “…one-fourth of aid today is diverted to climate aid projects.”  Among other things, he strongly supports free trade, because it is also a smart climate policy.

            At the end, it is clear why this book is entitled “False Alarm”:  “Fixating on scary stories about climate change leads us to make poor decisions. … Overspending on bad climate policies doesn’t just waste money, it means underspending on effective climate policies  and underspending on the opportunities we have to improve life for billions of people, now and into the future.  That’s not just inefficient. It’s morally wrong.”

            Lomborg has a compelling case, and he makes it quite clearly with common-sense reasoning, a  grasp of numerical values, and a comfortable writing style. It contains no equations, only graphs.  Everyone who is concerned about pursuing the best approach to climate change will find merit in reading this book. It certainly could be used in an undergraduate college course that addresses climate issues.  It is also accessible to sharp high-school readers, especially those whose classmates are fearful of their future because of the changing climate.

100 thoughts on “False Alarm: Book Review

  1. Marxists don’t care about the poor, except as a means to power. Their #compassion is a lie. As Mao put it, “Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.”

    • Marxists don’t care about climate change… but then there are very few actual marxists left in the world and in most of it they have no influence whatever.

      Climate science has nothing to do with marxism.

      There isn’t any entity in US politics of any importance which is Marxist or even truly socialist.

      • Ah Griff, pumping more nonsense into the forums! Its great to see you ole’ buddy! Are you still getting paid to write this drivel?

      • Communism is a system of government based on,but inevitably not closely adhering to,Marxist ideology is it not?Even if the terms “bourgeoisie’ and “proletariate” are not commonly used ,the basic tenets of communist regimes and the way the people are propagandised and controlled, are Marxist.
        Your point is simply one of semantics and makes no relevant difference to the intent of statement of “damp”.Putin ,ex-KGB,has just poisoned another opposition leader and who knows who the CCP has been butchering recently.Over 100 million people were murdered by Communist/Marxist regimes in the 20C.
        No,these regimes could not care about individual freedom one iota.They care about power.
        Until the pandemic came along,they were very successfully using hoax climate change to weaken strong free societies of the West by the “re-distribution of world income” but not their incomes.
        It will be crucial to observe some rationalisation of the divisive,economically destructive,climate change activism into a society more unified to heal those divisions in the most efficient way to recover from the pandemic catastrophe.

      • You obviously haven’t noticed BLM or Antifa; or indeed the latest iteration of the Democratic party.
        It may be true that “there are very few actual marxists (sic) left in the world” but that doesn’t necessarily translate to “no influence whatever” when most of them are teaching our children.

  2. Good review. And not a word about “naive faith in markets,” as was attributed to Lomborg by NYT reviewers.

    • … naive faith in markets …

      Holy Smokes! The real naive belief is that a centrally planned economy can possibly work. The twentieth century was a giant competition between centrally planned economies and market driven economies. The result wasn’t even close.

      You have to be either really stupid or over-educated to believe, in the face of more than a hundred years of evidence, that centrally planned economies are viable.

      • There is a series of programmes on the Yesterday TV channel called War Factories that follows the way the different countries in WW2 set about meeting the challenges of supplying the materials for pursuing the war.
        The conclusion is that victory went to the countries had the best means of production of these materials and that the directed economies were least successful in this.
        Germany had a centrally directed system of war production and ended up with very good tanks and planes but not enough of them, and they were over engineered so were difficult to repair in the field.
        Russias centrally directed economy concentrated on producing tanks, mainly the T34 which was very basic and easily replaced.
        Their other contribution to the war effort was people, who were regarded as an expendible resource, viz Stalingrad.
        American industry on the other hand went into overdrive and the free market provided much of the material needed by the allies, as well as providing 400,000 trucks and jeeps to the Russians along with much other material.
        After the war the US was in a good position to benefit from the free market, which it did.
        Unfortunately the UK lost the benefits of a free market and went into a directed economy.

      • +10
        You have to be either really stupid or over-educated to believe, in the face of more than a hundred years of evidence, that centrally planned economies are viable.

        • But the desire for central planning never seems to disappear. Perhaps this reflects the conflict between the courage to compete and depend on the fruits of ones own thought and labour and the cowardice that whisper in the ear “don’t bother trying, you might fail and anyway someone else will look after you”.

  3. The general public, and by marxist propaganda design John Q. Public and Susie Q Voter, are all just sleep walking into the Bolshevik’s arms and the Hell that always follows their ascension to total power. Climate change policies have nothing to do with climate and everything to do with change. Many are now even openly admitting, but not too loudly, this was the purpose all along.

    As I’ve mentioned before, 100 years ago, the Bolsheviks under Lenin were consolidating iron-grip uncontested raw power across Russia. But then when Lenin’s picked successor came along at Lenin death, Stalin was brutal beyond anything seen in history to one’s own people. Stalin’s collectivizations of all rural life in Russia, the subsequent forced shipping of millions of kulaks to his Siberian gulags to die of cold and starvation was without parallel. That is until China’s Mao Tsedong came along and repeated it with equally horrific death tolls just 30 years later after defeating Chiang Kai-shek and consolidating an iron grip on power over the People.

    History keeps repeating itself as societies allow Marxist-Bolshevik style radicals to take power, any individual rights are stripped, and those who resiust are either killed, disappeared, or sent to gulags and camps never to return. The results are predictably horrific. It can happen here in the US and all the Western-style democracies if we continue to elect today’s Democrats. We all see it, these neo-Marxist Democrats running that party are not the Democrats of JFK or even Clinton. Today’s Democrats but full-on controlled by Marxist-Socialists within their party hiding in sheep’s clothes, and waving with their climate scam trojan horse for the sleep walking people to accept without realizing what it contains.

    So many folks may not be thrilled with a lot of Trump’s wart and belicose behaviors, but if we “Go Joe” in November, everyone recognizes that dementia-ridden Biden won’t last a month in office if he even makes it that far. Then like Stalin and Mao sweeping to power, the US will be slowly, over a dozen years or so turned into a Marxist Hell-hole that we’ll have to fight for our lives to regain and re-take from the Bolsheviks.

    • +1 Naive is the label for those that don’t see this coming. I am confident the American people are aware. Just because the MSM tells a different story doesn’t mean everyone buys it. The radicals at both extremes aren’t the vote, the ones in the middle are.

    • Speaking as someone who has lived under a socialist government, one more radical by far than anything the US assuredly not socialist Democrats could come up with, I think you exaggerate off the scale of reasonableness with your remarks.

      If there really were all these dedicated marxists and whatnot, well heck: they must be the least successful conspirators of all time.

      • Griff, And you are speaking as a US citizen????????
        I’ll give the benefit of the doubt wince you are a rube, a nave, a mere child commenting material beyond you.

        The US Democratic Party core leadership has been taken over by Marxist-Communists.
        Tom Perez, the Chairman of the US DNC, cultivates his likeness to Vladimir Lenin in fact.
        If you study anything about Tom Perez, you will find his labor past views are solidly in line with the Marxist-Communist manifesto of the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeois. He is the DNC Chairman for a reason.

      • Speaking as one who also has lived 36 years of his life under a most brutal socialist/comunist regime, I say there is no exaggeration in Joel’s assessment. Once the power grab is complete, the moderate, democratic socialist elements are removed, by hook or by crook, and only the ideologically pure an ruthless remain at the top. From there on, it’s either a slide into poverty and hopelessness or into civil war. I would say USA will end up having another civil war.

        • “I would say USA will end up having another civil war.”

          I don’t think so. Skirmishes, maybe, since there are a certain percentage of crazies on the Left who would go that route, but I think the number who will actually commit violence is small. It’s small now, and there is no pushback from law enforcement. One good crackdown would send most of these anarchists and criminals running home to mother.

          And btw, there should be a crackdown on the rioting soon. Otherwise, you are going to encourage more of it. Round up all the Portland rioters and slap them in jail for a while, and see if that doesn’t calm things down. Zero tolerance for violent protesters.

          • The problem is that right now, the DA’s of those cities are refusing to press riot related charges. Even when the police do arrest them, they are sprung by the DA’s office before the sun comes up.

          • Agreed, Tom,
            A characteristic of some “fanatics” is the belief that EVERYONE believes as they do and thus they will speak and act with an air of impunity. Lots of examples with college age Leftists (violence against those on the right on campus and of course the arson etc in Democrat led cities). They express surprise and indignation when called on their behavior.

            That disease seems to also have infected Hollywood and some VERY naive politicians (see AOC and other Squad members’ remarks about “taking it to the streets”!

            These folks and the MSM (but I repeat myself) way underestimate the feeling of opposition to these actions building in the majority of citizens.

          • Mark,
            The consistent and coordinated behavior of DAs (and AGs, mayors and Governors) to ignore
            the rioting and “forgive” rioters belies Griff’s assertion that:
            “they must be the least successful conspirators of all time.”

          • George Daddis August 25, 2020 at 7:39 am

            Jesus tells us to forgive those who trespass against us. That’s fine.

            On the other hand, forgiving the rioters while, at the same time, punishing to the max anyone who transgresses against SJW values even slightly isn’t even close to what Jesus asks us all to do.

            They are evil and should be treated as such.

          • The forgiveness that Jesus talks about has more to do with not carrying anger in your heart. That can truly destroy you.
            The rendering unto Caesar part means they still have face criminal/civil penalties for any crime they have committed.

      • Griff,
        Over the years I’ve had dealings with people who suffered directly or indirectly from Marxism. From the children of Poles and Latvians whose parents couldn’t go home after WW2, through Hungarians who fled after 1956, to a whole raft of people who came from Central Europe after countries from the former Warsaw Pact joined the EU.

        Many were pretty racist, but none wanted to experience Marxism again. Most were suspicious of Marxism masquerading as something else. I suspect that there’s a majority in Belarus who feel the same.

      • Ah Griff, pumping more nonsense into the forums! Its great to see you ole’ buddy! Are you still getting paid to write this nonsense?

      • Griff wrote: “Speaking as someone who has lived under a socialist government, one more radical by far than anything the US assuredly not socialist Democrats could come up with, I think you exaggerate off the scale of reasonableness with your remarks.”

        Well, Griff, these same Democrats tried to steal the 2016 presidential election and have actively tried to undermine Trump at every step of the way. That’s radical enough for me to reject them in the future.

        Griff wrote: “If there really were all these dedicated marxists and whatnot, well heck: they must be the least successful conspirators of all time.”

        Marxists, criminals, what’s the difference?

        The criminals in the Obama administration who used the power of the federal government to undermine the opposition political party were not successful. They got caught red-handed, as Trump says. But, had Hillary been elected, the American public would know nothing about the criminals in the White House and the FBI and Justice Department and U.S. Intelligence agencies, all orchestrated by Obama and Biden.

        Americans would be crazy to put this same Democrat criminal enterprise back in control of the White House. That would be the end of our Republic. The criminal Democrats would rig it so they retain power in perpetuity. Just like any dictatorship does. They would correct the mistakes they made last time and cover it all up successfully this time.

        The Radical Democrats are Domestic Enemies of the People of the United States.

        • According to FBI documents, when they found evidence of Russian attempts to interfere with the US election, the immediately held consultations with the Democrat campaign. They never once even thought about informing the Republican campaign. Instead they set up surveillance to see if anyone in the Trump campaign would respond to these overtures.

    • Joel, I am flabbergasted by the ignorance of so many students. As a student more than fifty years ago when I first began to read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, there were many ignorant students but it seems to have gotten worse. How can one read even a modest amount of history and not become aware that we live in a messy and messed up world? How can people praise people like Stalin and Mao or even begin to compare President Trump with all his failings to these brutal dictators? Perhaps we should challenge students to read Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard Lecture which is available online and move on to his abridged The Gulag Archipelago 2018 Vintage Classics. Perhaps they will then start asking why the mainstream media avoids exploring this history and its philosophy keeps resurfacing.

      • There’s a book out now that tries to make the case that there is no difference between America and Nazi era Germany.

        • Are you referring to the book “Caste”, by Isabel Wilkerson, an African American? People like this put their ignorance on full display when they fail to read books by men and women who lived through – and suffered during – the Nazi era in Germany. They want to make everything fit their narrative rather than being guided by the primary historical sources.

  4. I too have been reading Lomborg’s book. He speaks with so much authority that one would hope he would be taken seriously. How unfortunate that that in this insta-twitter-gram world, there may be no way for “the masses” to engage with serious ideas.
    So if you are a well-intentioned and intelligent national leader of a developed country, and you like what Lomborg dais, how do you communicate the “False Alarm” and how do you maintain political power while focusing on the real problems? One of the things you have to do is bring the “real” media onto your side – the New York Times and the Guardian and CBC . . . good luck doing that. I suspect they are too afraid of the fall-out if they were to turn so far away from the crowd-sourced narrative.
    Was there not a time when “the media” self-identified as truth-tellers, based on a stubborn belief that truth equals justice and engenders true wealth. Now, as Lomborg says, “people are panicking in large part because the media and environmental campaigners tell us to, because politicians overhype likely effects, and because scientific research is often communicated without crucial context.”
    Lomborg’s solution are fundamentally economic, as one would expect from an economist. Maybe he should convene a closed-door meeting of the media giants and invent a media-delivered economically-sound solution that exploits 21st century technology and innovation, rather than condemning it?

    • Youtube is currently the leading mainstream vehicle for voices of sanity, I wonder how long that will last, given the sustained attack on them by the woke. Like small local shops, use them or lose them.

    • Lomborg believes there is a climate crisis in ptogress. But the current climate is wonderful and there is no logical reason to predict a climate crisis. Lomborg is a fool. He wants to solve a problem that does not exist. That defines a fool. Nothing he writes should be taken seriously since he fails to observe the wonderful climate and fauls to recognize the benefits of adding CO2 to the atmosphere for plants and the humans and animals who eat them. The specific pattern of warming since 1975 has also been mainly good news.

      Lomborg is an example of a person that appears intelligent at first glance but is really a fool. Similar to many govenment bureaucrat climate scientists.

      • Lomborg has made the erroneous assumption that Alarmist climate scientists know what they are talking about. He apparently is not aware of the shaky foundation upon which Human-caused Climate Change is based.

    • “Was there not a time when “the media” self-identified as truth-tellers”

      Yes, the Media always claim they are truthtellers. So do liars.

      I don’t think the News Media has ever been unbiased, even back to the founding of the United States.

      I would say that during and after the Vietnam war, the Leftwing News Media started pushing the Leftwing agenda much more blatantly than in the past. The Leftwing Media had a virtual monopoly on information at the time and conservatives were few and far between. It wasn’t until the Rush Limbaugh radio program went national in 1989, that there was a powerful conservative voice finally competing with the Left. Then the Fox News Channel came along in 1996 to put a conservative voice on television.

      Today, the Leftwing Media no longer has a monopoly on the truth, although they still own the majority of news outlets in the Western Democracies. But they don’t own the internet (yet) so the truth will out. If we elect Democrats, we may lose the internet to leftwing censorship. That would be the end.

  5. Radiative Green House Effect theory says downwelling “extra” energy “trapped” and “back” radiated from the GHGs makes the earth warmer. (The atmosphere and its 30% albedo make the earth cooler.)

    Where from, exactly, do the GHGs “trap” this “extra” energy? They must deduct it from the atmosphere’s energy debit card. If a credit isn’t applied to that card there will be an embarrassing deficit in the ToA balance.

    So how does this atmospheric energy debit card get refilled?

    Per RGHE the surface radiates as an ideal black body upwelling “extra” energy to recharge that debit card.
    Because of the non-radiative heat transfer processes of the contiguous participating atmospheric molecules ideal black body LWIR upwelling and recharging that “extra” energy from the surface is not possible.

    No “extra” upwelling energy, no “trapped” or “back” radiated “extra” downwelling energy, no GHG warming, no man caused climate change or global warming.

    The concept of “extra” and “trapped” energy violates physics and thermodynamics.

    The alleged upwelling and downwelling “extra” energy measurements are the illusion of improperly configured instruments and confirmation bias. Remember cold fusion where the “extra” energy turned out to be stray electrical currents in the apparatus.

    As demonstrated by experiment, the gold standard of classical science.

    Why the instruments are wrong.

    Why the surface cannot radiate as an ideal black body.

    And a summary just because.

    • Consider this.

      You can measure the energy radiating back at you from the night sky. Since water vapor is the main greenhouse gas, it matters a lot whether you are in a desert or not. If you think the instruments lie, you have to explain the difference between a humid environment and an arid one.

      • A complete method write-up or a citation of one would be appreciated. So that the rest of us amateur climatologists can repeat it. Also: so any deficiencies in the method will be clear. Obviously my comment applies to Nic too. But you’re criticising Nic’s method. So I presume from the standpoint of the “expert”. Why I’d like someone to cite a method write-up.

        • The method is simple. Take a pyrometer and point it straight up at the night sky.

          What the pyrometer is actually measuring is the amount of radiated infrared power (watts per square meter) it sees. That’s the P in the formula. So, fill in the numbers and solve for T.

          You could take your infrared thermometer and point it up at the night sky and it would give you a temperature that would bear some relationship to the actual temperature of the atmosphere. For instance, it would give you a lower reading in an arid climate than it would in a humid climate. The people who made the infrared thermometer made some assumptions because it too actually measures power flux and calculates temperature from that.

          The linked article refers to black body and grey body. That refers to the amount of power radiated relative to the actual temperature of an object. For a given temperature a black body radiates the most power and a grey body radiates less.

          An extreme example of the above is a shiny metal object which doesn’t radiate much power at all. I’ve tried the experiment with stainless steel. Pointing my infrared thermometer at shiny stainless gives me the temperature of whatever is reflected by the surface, for instance my temperature as reflected by the metal, and not the temperature of the metal itself.

          If you point your infrared thermometer at a piece of shiny stainless and it shows a safe temperature, you could get a nasty surprise. The metal can be hot enough to burn you but, since a reflective surface is the opposite of a black body and doesn’t radiate any power no matter what the temperature, you won’t know it until you actually touch the metal.

          The infrared thermometer assumes black body radiation and, in my experience, that’s close enough for most purposes. On the other hand, if you point your infrared thermometer at the bottom of a cloud, the reading you get will be highly influenced by the energy being reflected off the cloud in addition to the energy radiated by the cloud itself.

          The bottom line is that, although the experiment is trivial to perform, interpreting the data is not. There is at least one whole book on the subject.

          • “…it too actually measures power flux and calculates temperature from that.”

            It doesn’t.

            It measures temperature only and infers power flux with an assumed emissivity.

            Kipp-Zonen, Apogee and Eppley could settle the matter.

          • Nick Schroeder August 25, 2020 at 7:57 am

            I can tell that you’ve never designed instruments for a living. What kind of sensor do you imagine is the heart of a pyrometer?

      • Energy – does – not – flow – from – cold – to – hot.

        “…you have to explain the difference between a humid environment and an arid one.”
        Excuse me? How much “splaining have you done?
        Besides what’s to explain?
        Water vapor carries a lot of energy.
        In a moist environment there is a diurnal back & forth of energy from latent water vapor to sensible dry bulb from day to night, thermal surge tanks, so to speak, and a moderate temperature swing.
        In an arid environment the sensible dry bulb takes it all and there is a large swing.
        USCRN data makes that clear.
        Consult the psychrometric properties of moist air. That does all the necessary ‘splaining needed.

        • “Energy – does – not – flow – from – cold – to – hot.

          Not true. All bodies radiate so long as they are above absolute zero.
          The energy that is radiates doesn’t care if the object it hits is warmer than the object that emitted it was.

          • The energy that is radiates doesn’t care if the object it hits is warmer than the object that emitted it was.

            Absolutely true. It is also true that the net flow of energy is from higher energy to lower energy.

            Consider the formula for radiative heat transfer between two bodies.

            Q ∝ (T1^4 – T2^4)

            What we see is that the net flow between the two objects is the heat radiated by the first object (toward the second object) minus the heat radiated by the second object (toward the first object).

            In other words, the warmer object cools more slowly because of radiation reaching it from the cooler object. The net flow depends on the temperature of both objects.

            There’s ample evidence that lots and lots of people are too dumb/ignorant/stubborn to understand that simple concept. It’s one thing to be skeptical of scientific conjecture, it’s quite another thing to be skeptical of everyday boring engineering.

    • Thanks Nic. I commented on the your first article at LinkedIn. I’m puzzled how you vary emissivity from 0.20 to 0.95. Thanks anyhow.

      • It’s a setting in the instrument.
        I tell the instrument what to use.
        What it actually is is another matter.
        And that’s what’s wrong w/ up/down measurements.
        What they are told, 1.0, is not what it is, 0.16.

  6. What could have happened if 10 years ago, we spend 100 billion in explore the Moon with the aim of determining if lunar polar regions had mineable water.
    Well, obviously we could have found evidence that lunar water was not mineable.
    And worse than that, decided to mine lunar water even though there was no mineable lunar water. Or finding some water is a given, and not even the question, and crazy government agencies will decide to do things which they should not do.
    But not taking the worst outcome, and instead if determined there was no mineable water on Moon. There would the benefit of stop thinking and trying to explore the Moon, and focus something else more productive.
    But on plus side, if discovered there was mineable lunar water, we could mining the lunar water, at the present time. And be focused on exploring Mars.
    The indirect effect of mining lunar water, could be to lower costs of exploring Mars. And such cost savings could exceed the cost of exploring the Moon 10 years ago.
    Now, the basic reason one should explore Mars, is to determine if and where one could Mars have settlements/towns on Mars.
    Just like lunar water, it’s possible that one should not have settlements on Mars {though some might try anyhow}. Just like the Moon if Mars is not suitable for human settlements, then we stop being “interested” in exploring Mars and focus our attention on other things. Could decide there there no other places which could support human settlements, or find other possible places. Or one have an evolution in technology, which allows Mars settlements or settlements elsewhere.
    Now, I say could spend 100 billion 10 years ago. But we didn’t actually need to spend 100 billion dollar more- NASA had enough money to do it without giving it another 100 billion, NASA simply had to spend it’s budget “better”. And this also applies any addition costs related to future Mars exploration.
    Or opposite way to say that, is NASA has wasting a lot money not exploring and spending too much money on other things. One thing {among many} NASA was wasting money on was doing things related to global warming concerns.
    And NASA not alone in terms other kinds govt in wasting efforts related stupid things related to global warming.

  7. If “the theoretical cost to lift everyone on the planet out of extreme poverty would be less than $100 billion per year” then a lot of government spending should be considered obscene. Suppose the US reduced it’s military budget by 100 billion a year down from 721 billion to 621 billion and used that money to lift
    everyone in the world out of poverty. The net result would a lot of very thankful people and a lot less terrorists making the US safer as a result. And that would still give the US twice the military budget of the Chinese (231 billion) and almost 10 times that of Russia.

    Alternatively governments could tax the billionaires making money during the COVID lockdown. The US’s billionaires have gain $637 billion since the start of the lockdown all of it unearned. Taxing that wealth would go a long way to easing world poverty. Or the derivative market is worth 640 Trillion each year and a small tax (0.1 %) on contracts would easily provide enough money to end poverty for ever.

    Or governments could fight climate change 11 months of the year and poverty for one which would solve both problems.

    • Googled extreme poverty and got 1.85 billion. No idea if that is right. For argument’s sake say it is 2 billion. So for $50 per person we can eliminate extreme poverty. Does not pass the smell test.

      • What does “lift the world out of poverty” mean, exactly? More welfare programs? We can see how well that is working in Chicago and Baltimore. Skill training programs and globalization? Well, i suppose that might positively impact some people while at the same time transferring jobs from one region to another and thereby hurting others, like the globalization and ensuing assault on the middle class in the US. This is just another sound bite with no thought behind it, and i suspect the true cost of solving the problem is much higher than stated. This is not to say that we shouldn’t try, or that fixing the world’s economic woes aren’t a better use of time and money than pissing it away on windmills. Trump was trying to fix the US’s economy before covid, but as much as I support economic opportunity for the US’s inner cities they do come at the expense of workers somewhere else, e.g. China.

        I suppose we could always try a world-wide centrally managed economy, but according to Griff there are no more marxists so there is no one left who know how to do that….

        • The only way to “lift people out of poverty” is to help them remove the roadblocks that are keeping them poor.

          Drilling wells, so that they have easy access to clean water. So that girls don’t have to spend much of the day hauling contaminated water from the nearest river.
          Build better roads. So that people can travel from where they live to where the jobs are more easily, or be able to take what they do make to the local markets so it can be sold.
          Provide electricity, so that work/studying can continue once the sun goes down, also so that they food they do have doesn’t spoil as fast.
          Hire teachers so that the kids at least know the basics, simple math and reading.

        • Thomas Sowell has shown very thoroughly that America’s mostly-black poor were better off before LBJ’s Great Society welfare programs, and had an incentive to improve themselves that is now mostly lacking. I can’t prove that the BLM riots are a side effect but it looks that way to me. Millions of them are now in prison and millions more need to go there, and the bleeding-hearts are to blame.

          The only thing that would make it worse is if the bad guys are left free to keep burning our cities.

    • How much does the U.N. spend on extreme poverty each year? Where are there any pilot studies that show the way to eliminate extreme poverty for $50/head. $100/head? $10k/head?

      • More to the point how much has the USA historically spent on that? Even inside the USA? Before there was climate change to spend on?

        • Ah Griff, it warms my heart to see you back pumping more gibberish into the forums! Its great to see you ole’ buddy! Are you still getting paid to write this nonsense?

          • The cheque is, apparently, in the post…

            I seem to have more time on my hands than perhaps I’d like: the weather here is frightful (probably global warming, eh?) and there have been a string of workmen to supervise, so I’m not getting out enough…

            I have to say commenters seem to make even less sense than previously here: I blame the US election getting people excited.

        • While the US has not eliminated “poverty” as defined by Nancy Peolsi, The US has eliminated poverty as a human condition, except as a consequence of mental illness. There is no significant population in the US living at a subsistance level, cooking scavanged food over an open fire wth no civlisized support or prospects. What passes for poverty in the US passes for middle class in most of the world. We spend a modest amount to help the rest of the world, a distressing portion of which ends up in the Swiss bank accounts of tyrants. We would, I think spend significantly if spending was effective; no into black holes like the UN.

        • Back in the 60’s LBJ declared war on poverty, since that time the US has spent trillions. There has been no drop in poverty, in many cases, multi-generational poverty has even gotten worse.

          I’m really not surprised the griff has no knowledge regarding how much the US spends on anti-poverty programs. After all, she’s only paid to regurgitate today’s talking points memo. Not think for herself.

          • You are absolutely correct about the ‘poor” in the US being middle class in the EU and rich beyond imagining for most of the world’s population. In fact, if our ‘poor’ were a country, they would be the 9th richest on the planet. In absolute terms, we have near zero poverty in the US. Since we classify the poor in ‘relative’ terms, the percentage of poor in the US will remain the same forever regardless of government policies.

    • The US’s billionaires have gain $637 billion since the start of the lockdown all of it unearned.

      Stock market gains are not income. Likewise a loss isn’t a loss unless one sells. If the “gains” are taxed, the owner would have to sell to pay those taxes. That would trigger a bunch of other things for the person, others, and the company. Many such things might be generally harmful.
      Tax laws, over many years, have been crafted to fund the Federal (and some States) government. The popular refrain is “Pay all you owe and not a penny more.” Rich people hire accountants and lawyers to make that happen. Change laws and they adjust. All this, and much more, is well established, if not commonly known.
      Bernie Sanders wanted to tax millionaires until he became one. Now he wants to tax billionaires. My thought is that if Bernie wants to do something it is most likely wrong.

      • It really is fascinating how socialists are consumed with jealousy of others.
        Someone invests, with the possibility of the investments going south, and their losing everything.

    • “could fight climate change ”

      Why fight a NATURAL warming out of the COLDEST period in some 10,000 years

      Some people have seriously wonky priorities !!

    • I would point out that nobody in the last 50 years seems to have been very keen to spend the ‘modest’ amounts needed, according to Lomborg, to beat world poverty, malnutrition, fight TB, etc, etc.

      We could all have personal helicopters if only the US car industry hadn’t kept on building cars instead…

      Even before there was climate change to spend time and money on, people did not spend time and money on the world’s poorest, sadly.

      • griff seems to honestly believe that countries spend nothing on the poor right now.

        Then again, she’s never been paid to be smart.

      • . . . people did not spend time and money on the world’s poorest, sadly.

        Uff da!
        That is likely the stupidest thing I’ve seen written in the last 70 years, since first encountering a missionary returning from Africa and asking church members for money.

    • How quaint, a socialist demanding that the military be shut down, or that the money of those who work for a living be stolen so that it can be spent on him.

      There really is nothing new under the sun.

      The military does something useful, unlike money spent on the global warming myth.
      Millionaires earned their money, unlike most socialists.

      • In the US, the official “poverty” line is set as a fixed fraction of median income.
        As the country gets richer, the number of people officially in poverty stays the same. By design.

  8. I think Lomborg is too smart to actually believe the alarmism about CO2 and that he professes to believe it all simply to avoid being cancelled.
    If so i think his strategy is correct as his strength is economics and statistics; if he stated CO2 is no problem too many of the climactically insane would use that to dismiss everything else out of hand.
    Regardless, as his detractors point out, he isn’t a climate scientist, but that is the entire point, he is not questioning the “science” he just decimates the conclusions the insane draw from it.

    I’m almost done reading it

    Good book

  9. I am not a Jeff Bezos fan, but he literally helped more people in the U.S. during the COVID lockdown than any other person!

    Imagine the deprivation if Amazon had never been created.

    Izaak’s version of “unearned” and my version are polar opposites.

    • Jeff Bezos did not literally help anyone. He forced thousands of people to work in unsafe conditions at low pay so that the middle classes could goods delivered. All Jeff Bezos did was sit back and watch the money roll in.

      • So why are you not competing with him? If it’s that easy? And that competition will lower customer prices.

        • According to some radical leftists, since people need to work in order to eat, therefor they are being “forced” to work. This is where the nonsense about wage slaves comes from.

          This is why many on the left believe that government should provide everyone with enough money to live on, that way they can choose for themselves if they want to work.

          • Even by that twisted logic, no one is forced to work at Amazon. If the conditions are unsafe, as Isaak dubiously claims, there would have been a mass exodus from Amazon at the time the US was at full employment. Amazon wouldn’t have been able to find workers. Didn’t happen. Therefore, Isaak can only make the claim that Amazon is unsafe due to the COVID pandemic. But, if that’s true, Amazon would likely have been shut down as Washington’s Governor Inslee shut many other companies down. There’s no evidence that Amazon is less safe than the other companies that continued to operate.

  10. For me the best solution is the ‘there will be winners and losers form climate change’ approach.
    Let the winners pay for infrastructure for the losers WHERE AND WHEN it is needed.

    This way, if 90%, 50%, or 20% of climate change is man made, we catch ALL climate change.

    Because if some of it IS natural, taxing CO2 is achieving nothing.

  11. Comments on the article on Bjorn Lomborg’s latest book “HOW CLIMATE CHANGE PANIC COSTS US TRILLIONS, HURTS THE POOR, AND FAILS TO FIX THE PLANET”:

    Excerpt A from the article:

    “It turns out that the theoretical cost to lift everyone on the planet out of extreme poverty would be less than $100 billion per year. Compare this to our current trajectory: we’ve committed to spending $1 trillion to $2 trillion a year just on the almost entirely ineffective Paris Accord. Every month the cost will be the same as the amount that could lift everyone from extreme poverty. This strikes me as obscene. As rich countries commit to going carbon-neutral, the cost will escalate to tens of trillions of dollars per year, to make a small temperature change in a century’s time. Just a couple of days of these new, higher costs could transform the world by ending extreme poverty entirely.” – Bjorn Lomborg

    Lomborg’s figures are correct; his explanation is clear; his argument is compelling. It is obscene to continue on such an international spending trajectory.

    I agree with Excerpt A – the proposed international climate spending program is not only obscene, it is imbecilic – it won’t have any significant effect on global temperature or atmospheric CO2 concentrations and will destroy vital energy infrastructure, replacing dispatchable power systems with unreliable wind and solar power nonsense – then everyone will experience electricity blackouts like California does now.

    Excerpt B from the article:

    The fourth major block of the book, “How to fix climate change,” presents several much better ways to approach the climate change problem. Bear in mind that Lomborg definitely believes that mankind’s production of CO2 is harmful, because it will cause the global temperature to rise.

    I strongly disagree with Excerpt B – There is overwhelming evidence that there never was a real human-made global warming crisis. Climate is INsensitive to increasing atmospheric CO2.


    We have known that alleged catastrophic anthropogenic global warming was a false crisis since ~forever, that wind and solar power would not adequately replace fossil fuels and we published those conclusions in 2002. Now some of the former advocates of those false concepts are admitting their error, and others are even admitting the climate scare was always a scam, a smokescreen for their extreme-left political objectives.

    See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”. quillette.com/2020/06/30/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/

    See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”. youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE

    In a July 2019 Washington Examiner report, Saikat Chakrabarti, chief of staff for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said: “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal, is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all… Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

    Naomi Klein, in her book, “On Fire, The Burning Case for a Green New Deal”, also stated that the climate is a “powerful motivator” to overthrow capitalism. “The idea is a simple one: In the process of transforming the infrastructure of our societies at the speed and scale that scientists have called for, humanity has a once-in-a- century chance to fix an economic model that is failing the majority of people on multiple fronts. … Challenging these underlying forces is an opportunity to solve several interlocking crises at once.”

    The clear intent is to use the global warming scam to restrict economic and political freedoms by transforming Western countries into tightly controlled totalitarian states. That is the lefts BIG LIE, and the Democrat voters, like so many of Lenin’s “useful idiots” in the West, believe it. Human-made global warming / climate change has always been a false crisis, and its leading proponents know that – it is the greatest scam in world history.

  12. Bjorn Lomborg makes his point as he begins the fist chapter:
    People are panicking about climate change in large part because the media and environmental campaigners tell us to, because politicians overhype the likely effects, and because scientific research is often communicated without crucial context. Too often, the missing context is the most obvious fact of all: humans adapt to their changing earth. They have for millennia and will continue to do so. Any projection of the impact of climate change that fails to take this into account in not realistic. (my emphasis)

    The book is well worth reading or alternatively listening to Lomborg in a recent interview on this subject:

    Parallels between climate and COVID-19 alarm are striking. This paragraph could be tweaked to critique the response to COVID-19. A Dublin newspaper today continued to stoke the fires of virus alarmism with the article: Reopening of schools akin to sending teachers and pupils into a building guaranteed to catch fire. The journalist ignores inconvenient facts. There has only been one death in the age group 0-24 in Ireland – and we are given no context. Despite the increased number of cases both the number of deaths remains low and number admitted to ICU very low. She ignores the astonishingly low the number of child deaths – perhaps in the order of one death out of 10 000 – and again without context. Far more children in first world countries die every year from a variety of illnesses. The fear of climate change and COVID-19 in schools are both completely irrational. This kind of irresponsible journalism needs to be publicly shamed.

  13. The problem is that climate change alarmism has become “The lie that is too big to fail ”
    Imagine the ” fallout” in the MSM ,universities,scientific establishments,stock markets etc if there was ABSOLUTE proof that CO2 did not cause dangerous warming.(Yes we know that it doesn’t but proof that Governments, the UN etc would accept.) Big Money and probably your Deep State are behind alarmism also,not to mention the furore which would be caused by Green “useful idiots.” This book might help but the way to start draining the climate swamp is a thorough investigation into the NOAA\NASA global and USA temperature records.Mr Trump ,sir,are you listening?

  14. From the article: “The fourth major block of the book, “How to fix climate change,” presents several much better ways to approach the climate change problem. Bear in mind that Lomborg definitely believes that mankind’s production of CO2 is harmful, because it will cause the global temperature to rise.”

    We’ll disabuse him of that notion one of these days. 🙂

    Human-caused Climate Change/Global Warming is pure speculation, Bjorn. It has no basis in fact.

    Next, Bjorn should investigate the foundations of Human-caused Climate Change. He should investigate why it is that Alarmist climate scientists can’t narrow the range of speculated CO2 temperature increases even after decades of study.

    The first estimates of how much CO2 would raise atmospheric temperatures were from 1.5C to 4.5C per doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. And now, decades later, that is *still* the estimate and the range. Official alarmist climate science has not advanced at all.

    Meanwhile, every time a new, unofficial estimate of this value is done, the figure hovers around 1.5C or lower, some estimates being very close to zero. There are also those who claim CO2 actually cools the Earth’s atmosphere after feedbacks are figured in.

    So Bjorn shouldn’t be too sure of his position that CO2 is harmful.

    I would challenge Bjorn to provide evidence that human-derived CO2 is doing anything the Alarmist claim it is doing. The Alarmists can’t provide such evidence, and neither can Bjorn.

    Bjorn just needs to come to this realization.

    • One must remember that Bjorn Lomborg WAS sceptical and had to be abused into believing 2+2=5 in order to avoid becoming an UNPERSON. Peter Ridd found out the hard way…

      Bjorn’s probably more useful paying lip service to the scam whilst undermining its worst excesses.

  15. Underlying the benefit-cost approach is normative aim to make the world a better place by acting. Even by assuming catastrophic global warming as a definite future, the conclusion of Nordhaus’s analysis is that if the Paris Climate Agreement aims of reducing global emissions by 25% or 55% by 2030 (repectively the 2.0C & 1.5C warming targets) the world will be in a worse place than doing nothing at all.
    Nordhaus’s assumptions are many in the justification of a limited carbon tax. The first is that policy is optimal. Non-optimal policies, such as regulations or dictating the type of electricity supply, will undermine the policy case. But optimal also means globally uniform. Yet the Paris Climate Agreement Article 4.1 specifically exempts “developing” nations from any obligation to even constrain emissions growth in the near future. With >60% of global emissions and around 100% of emissions growth since 1990, that leaves developing countries responsible for cutting their emissions by around 150% in a decade. The maths does not work. It also implies that people in the developed countries will be relatively worse off to developing countries. For example USA, UK, EU, Taiwan, Isreal & South Korea will be relatively worse off under the Paris Agreement compared to China, Iran, Saudi Arabia & North Korea.
    Getting back to the economics, given the quadratic function of climate change costs to temperature rise in the DICE model, most of the costs of warming can be eliminated by minor reductions. If we assume that political leaders prioritise their own people’s interests before other countries, if they believe the DICE model, then they will enact the minimum policies possible whilst encouraging other nations to do the maximum.
    I explored this idea in more detail about 18 months ago.

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