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Bjørn Lomborg, just a scientist with a different opinion?

Filed under: — stefan @ 31 August 2015 - (Español)

Bjørn Lomborg is a well-known media personality who argues that there are more important priorities than reducing emissions to limit global warming. In a recent controversy centering on him, the Australian government (known for its contradictory position on climate change) offered the University of Western Australia (UWA) $4 million to make Lomborg professor – which UWA first accepted, but then after massive protest from its staff and students refused. The Australian government was quick to label it a “freedom of speech” issue that Lomborg should get a university position, and vowed to find another university that would host him. However, free speech doesn’t guarantee everyone a university position; there are also academic qualifications required.

Lomborg’s publication record

Let us thus start by looking at Lomborg’s track record in the scientific literature. This is where original research results, i.e. new findings, are published. One can look this up in the Thomson Reuters Web of Science, the main data base of the scientific literature. According to this Lomborg only has published 20 papers, of which 15 have never been cited by anyone (Fig. 1). The number of citations shows whether any other researchers in the world have found the results interesting enough to discuss them in their own papers (whether critically or otherwise). Only one of Lomborg’s papers has a reasonable number of citations: 42. This is on a problem of game theory, apparently resulting from his PhD thesis. On closer inspection, the other articles appear to be merely opinion pieces that made it into the Thomson Reuters data base by appearing in periodicals that are indexed there, including Forbes, Foreign Affairs or New Scientist.

Lomborg1Lomborg2

Figure 1 Lomborg’s citation record in Web of Science, as viewed on 22 Aug 2015. The ten most-cited papers (out of 20) are listed. Click to enlarge.

That means that apart from one paper in 1996, Lomborg has never published anything in any field of science that was interesting or useful to other scientists, or even just worth the bother of contradicting in the scientific literature. PhD students at many universities are expected to publish two or three original research papers from their PhD, and without that, they are generally uncompetitive for a postdoc position.

For comparison I also show a snapshot of the publication record of an economist who really studies the economics of climate change: Gary Yohe (Fig. 2) – to give readers unfamiliar with bibliometric data an idea of what they look like for a regular scientist at professorial level. One number illustrates the point: Lomborg’s papers were cited once last year, Yohe’s 608 times.

Yohe1Yohe2

Figure 2 Gary Yohe’s citation record in Web of Science, as viewed on 27 Aug 2015. The ten most-cited papers (out of 93) are listed. Click to enlarge.

Lomborg’s public comments on sea-level rise

I study sea-level rise, and I first noticed Lomborg’s sea-level comments in October 2008, when he published an opinion piece in the Guardian (via Project Syndicate) in which he wrote:

Since 1992, we have had satellites measuring the rise in global sea levels, and they have shown a stable increase of 3.2mm per year (1/8 of an inch) – spot on compared to the IPCC projection. Moreover, over the last two years, sea levels have not increased at all – actually, they show a slight drop. Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?

The first sentence is a debating trick frequently used by those wanting to downplay climate change: Lomborg compares the observed past rise with average projections for the future. However, in the projections sea level rise accelerates over time in response to global warming, so if the rate of rise is already now as high as models expect only in several decades, this is not “spot on”. When comparing like with like, i.e. the same time interval, it has been shown both in the journal Science and in the 4th IPCC report (published 2007) that the observed rate of rise greatly exceeded the projections available at the time of Lomborg’s writing. (In the 5th IPCC report the projections are about 60% higher than in the 4th and now do match past observations.)

Lomborg’s second sentence is also a classic debating trick of climate skeptics: confuse the public by cherry picking some short interlude which goes against the long-term trend (Fig. 3). This is always possible with noisy geophysical data.

Bjorn_Lomborg_Sea_Level_Rise

Figure 3 The data behind Lomborg’s claim of falling sea level. Image courtesy of Greg Laden’s blog.

Ironically, the title of Lomborg’s article was “Let the data speak for itself”, but he did not show the data. (I did later in a response – for those wanting to read more on my exchange with Lomborg, see the Appendix below.)

Misrepresentation of IPCC reports

Lomborg has quite a history of misrepresenting what is written in IPCC reports. I noted this already in the Guardian exchange about the 4th IPCC report. Lomborg has likewise seriously misrepresented what IPCC says about sea level in its latest (5th) report. In a newspaper column for Project Syndicate, which got published in newspapers in many countries, he wrote:

For sea-level rise, the IPCC now includes modeling of glacier responses of 3-20 centimeters, leading to a higher total estimate of 40-62 cm by century’s end – much lower than the exaggerated and scary figure of 1-2 meters of sea-level rise that many environmental activists, and even some media outlets, bandy about.

Compare this to what the IPCC actually writes about sea level in its Summary for Policy Makers:

For RCP8.5, the rise by the year 2100 is 0.52 to 0.98 m.

(RCP8.5 is a scenario with unmitigated rise in greenhouse gas emissions.)

For the lowest emissions scenario RCP2.6 (which involves drastic emissions reductions starting in a few years and leading to zero global emissions by 2070) the best-estimate sea-level rise by the year 2100 given by IPCC is 44 cm. The emissions reductions needed to keep sea-level rise so moderate is the kind of scenario that Lomborg has devoted his career to prevent. Telling his readers that sea-level rise might just be 40 cm so they should not worry, without telling them that this low number would require massive mitigation efforts, is rather misleading.

The risk of a rise of 1-2 meters is dismissed by Lomborg as “exaggerated” and “bandied about” by “environmental activists and even some media outlets”. But surely Lomborg knows that a large part of the sea-level expert community considers this a serious risk, as documented in a number of peer-reviewed scientific publications? The thoroughly peer-reviewed US National Climate Assessment, published some months before Lomborg’s newspaper article, summarizes the state of science on future sea level in the following graph (Fig. 4).

US national assessment

Figure 4 Sea level rise according to the US National Climate Assessment (2014). The high end scenario of 6.6 feet equals 2 meters of rise between the years 2000 and 2100.

And an expert survey in which 90 sea-level experts (in contrast to Lomborg, all with a good track-record of research in this area) took part has come up with this distribution for the upper reaches of sea-level rise by 2100 (Fig. 5).

.

survey_histogram1

Figure 5 Distribution of the experts’ answers to the upper limit of the ‘likely’ range for the RCP8.5 scenario by the year 2100. Many experts consider a global sea-level rise between 1 and 2 meters quite possible in case of unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions.

Cynical misinformation offered to developing nations

Lomborg’s message to the newspaper readers has thus nothing to do with a fair portrayal of how much sea-level rise the scientific community expects. Rather it is a distortion and blatant attempt at downplaying future sea-level rise. Looking at Lomborg’s many other Project Syndicate columns shows that this is not a singular case but a regular pattern in his columns. This is all the more irresponsible given that Project Syndicate opinion pieces are widely reprinted by newspapers in developing nations, where reporting on the actual state of science is often poor and where people are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Earlier this year Lomborg travelled to Bangladesh to tell people there that “focusing on global warming instead of child nutrition is quite frankly almost immoral” (his standard false dichotomy). He further claimed:

The Dutch has shown us 200 years ago, you can handle sea level rise fairly, easily and cheaply, you can do the same thing here and you will do the same thing here.

It only takes a look at Google Earth to see how preposterous the comparison of Holland and Bangladesh is (Fig. 6). The latter coastline is vastly more difficult to defend against rising seas, and unlike Holland it is in the path of tropical cyclones.

Holland

Bangladesh

Figure 6 Coastlines of Holland (top) and Bangladesh at similar scale. Holland expects to spend 1.2 to 1.6 billion Euro (1.4 to 1.8 billion US$) per year until 2050 to upgrade its already well-established coastal defences – but it has a straight, easy-to-defend coastline with only a small river delta region. Bangladesh in contrast is largely a river flood plain with major problems draining the monsoonal waters to the sea (closing the coast with a huge dike is not an option) combined with storm surges from tropical cyclones. [See more in Appendix 2.]

Lomborg’s cynical attitude towards the victims of sea-level rise could hardly be better illustrated by another Project Syndicate op-ed he wrote. There he dismisses even a catastrophic 20-foot sea-level rise (6 meters – a plausible outcome of unmitigated global warming in a few centuries) which would inundate about 16,000 square miles of coastline where more than 400 million people currently live:

That’s a lot of people, to be sure, but hardly all of mankind. In fact, it amounts to less than 6% of the world’s population – which is to say that 94% of the population would not be inundated.

What a cavalier way to dismiss the plight of 400 million people, coming from a rich Dane who in 2012 received a salary of US$ 775.000 in the US via conservative foundations!

Conclusion

To answer the question posed in the title: No, I do not think Lomborg is a scientist who just happens to have a different opinion from the majority. First of all, there is very little indication that he is actually working as a scientist, given his near-zero scientific track record since his PhD work according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. Second, the arguments he presents to the wider public on sea-level rise can hardly be seen as  made in good faith – rather, they appear to me carefully crafted (and admittedly rather eloquent) distortions, aimed to deceive his lay audience about the seriousness of the threat. In short, I would consider much of Lomborg’s writing propaganda.

Ever since his “Skeptical Environmentalist” book Lomborg has a simple, single message: don’t worry about reducing fossil emissions. Whether he denies or plays down the seriousness of global warming, sings the praises of adaptation, advocates to prioritize other problems or pushes geoengineering, the message is always the same: anything is better than phasing out fossil fuels.

As seen by the lack of citations, this message has zero credibility or impact in the scientific community. After all, scientists can judge the merits of the arguments. Unfortunately, Lomborg’s propaganda message is not only popular with fossil fuel interests, but continues to get ample space in the media.

 

Appendix

I did not want to burden the main article with too much detail, so here is how my exchange with Lomborg in the Guardian went on. In response to my complaint about the cherry-pick, Lomborg wrote:

Rahmstorf is correct to note that the levels are no longer dropping — which they were from 2006 to early 2008, the data available at the time of my article — but curiously seems disinclined to explore why the rise over the past four years (2005-2008) has been half the previous rise at 1.6mm/year. The inescapable point is that sea levels are not escalating out of hand – if anything, they are doing the exact opposite right now.

To start with, the satellite data were freely available online in near real-time from 1992 at the time of Lomborg’s earlier article, so the distinction between long-term trend and short-term noise should have been evident to him – it is inconceivable to me that Lomborg could have so little understanding of statistics that he does not understand the role of noise in the data, so his claim that sea-level rise is slowing can’t be out of ignorance but must have been a deliberate attempt to mislead his lay audience. And the short blip that Lomborg focused on was already over when his article appeared.

In my reply to this in the Guardian I wrote:

Why does Lomborg cite the trend since 2005? Last October, he cited that of the previous two years. Why now four years? Because the trend of the past two years (2007-2008) is now + 3.7 mm/year? It is even worse. The trend since the beginning of any year of the data series varies between 1.6 mm/year and 9.0 mm/year, depending on the start year chosen. Using 2005, Lomborg cherry-picked the by far lowest. He’s done this before, see for example his recent claim that the globe is cooling.

It is worth rereading these Lomborg articles from back in 2008/2009 to realise how even more ridiculous they are today, in the light of the data that have been gathered since. Of course sea-level rise has not slowed down.

Another example is how Lomborg tries to tell his readers that the globe is actually cooling:

Temperatures in this decade have not been worse than expected; in fact, they have not even been increasing. They have actually decreased by between 0.01 and 0.1C per decade.

That was another disingenuous cherry-pick; we now know that the hottest years on record are 2014, 2010 and 2005, with the hottest 12-month period being the past 12 months.

Appendix 2 by Jonathan Gilligan [Added on 4 September, from Comment Nr. 57)

About defending the Bangladeshi coast: See L. Auerbach et al., “Flood risk of natural and embanked landscapes on the Ganges-Brahmaputra tidal delta plain,” Nature Climate Change 5, 153 (2015) (Disclosure: I am a co-author), F.K. Khadim et al., “Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Impacts in South West Coastal Zone of Bangladesh and Fact-Finding on Tidal River Management (TRM)” J. Water Resource & Protect. 5, 953 (2013) and Atiur Rahman’s book, “Beel Dakatia: The Environmental Consequences of a Development Disaster” (University Press, 1995)

In the 1950s through the 1970s, following recommendations of the UN Krug Commission report, Bangladesh built a large network of more than 100 embankments, or “polders,” based on the Dutch model, for flood control in the coastal areas.

The engineers designing and implementing this project did not account for the vast geological differences between the Bengal delta and the Netherlands. In Bangladesh, these polders prevented the natural flow of sediment onto the land and caused accelerated subsidence that contributed roughly 10 times more to relative sea level rise in many parts of the delta over the last 50 years than eustatic sea level rise.

Thus, far from protecting the coast, these Dutch-style embankments increased problems of flooding, waterlogging, and vulnerability to catastrophic flooding when storm surges from cyclone Aila in 2009 destroyed several embankments, destroying the homes of tens of thousands of people much as Katrina did in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. And severe tropical cyclones hit Bangladesh an average of once every three years.

Ironically, a number of Bengali engineers warned, in the 1920s and 30s, that building such embankments to control floods would actually make flood risks worse for the reasons I give above.

Additional recent work by J. Pethick and J. Orford, “Rapid rise in Effective Sea-Level in southwest Bangladesh: Its causes and contemporary rates” Global Planetary Change 111, 237 (2013) showed that the embankments along the tidal channels of Bangladesh also caused tidal amplification, which further exacerbated relative sea-level rise.

There is some hope for Bangladesh because if the land is not mismanaged (for instance, if sediment flow is not blocked by poorly designed systems of embankments and sluice gates), natural sediment deposition can cause significant aggradation of the land surface, enough to completely keep up with moderate sea-level rise. See, e.g., CA Wilson and SL Goodbred, “Building a large, tide-influenced delta on the Bengal margin: Linking process, morphology, and stratigraphy in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system,” Annu. Rev. Marine Sci. 7, 67 (2015). See also, the extensive literature on “Tidal River Management,” such as Khadim et al. (2013).

However, even the billion tons a year of sediment carried by the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system is likely insufficient to keep pace with the kind of accelerated eustatic sea-level rise we expect in coming decades if the world continues to follow an RCP 8.5-like emissions trajectory.

Lomborg’s poorly informed recommendations to Bangladesh and his ignorance of the disastrous consequences of Bangladesh’s past attempt to emulate Holland exemplify Santayana’s warning that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Weblink

Danish biologist Kåre Fog has a good summary on his Lomborg Errors website of how Lomborg has shifted his position continuously over time, from denying global warming is a problem to wanting to fix it with drastic geoengineering measures. The website has extensive documentation of Lomborg’s errors. Fog concludes about Lomborg: “He does precisely what the fossil fuel industry would want a PR agent to do”.

205 Responses to “Bjørn Lomborg, just a scientist with a different opinion?”

  1. 51
    Jim Eager says:

    I find that those who issue protests of “attack the man” arguments usually do not know what actually constitutes an “ad hominem.”

    For example, to say that “you are an idiot, therefore your arguments must be wrong” is an ad hominem since it attacks the man without addressing the arguments.

    On the other hand, to say that “your arguments have been repeatedly shown to be factually incorrect, yet you persist in making them, therefore you are an idiot” may well be rude and intemperate, but it is not an ad hominem.

    [Response: Of course I did not call Lomborg an idiot, nor anything else. I called much of his writing propaganda. That is not an ad hominem but a statement about specific things he has written – with ample examples given in my article so anyone can judge for themselves what I mean. I often wish that “climate skeptics” attacking me would do it that way: quote verbatim what I have said and present arguments for why they disagree. -stefan]

  2. 52
    Dan H. says:

    Hank,
    That would be a resounding NO! I do not from where you are getting those ridiculous assumptions.

    While future predictions of increased or decreased sea level rise could definitely occur, the data suggests that the present rate will continue uninhibited. Long term changes in the rate of warming, glacial advancement and recession, snowfall accumulation, and water management all have the potential to influence the rate.

    Your syllogistic fallacy is that, since carbon dioxide is rising faster than in the past, sea level must rise faster.

    [Response: The actual physical argument (backed up by lots of data – see my papers on sea-level rise) is: sea-level rise will accelerate because the planet is getting warmer. The warmer the surface gets, the faster the continental ice melts, and the faster the heat penetrates into the deeper ocean causing thermal expansion. That acceleration has to do with the fact that the ice sheets and oceans are well out of equilibrium with current (or future) temperatures. Take a big block of ice out of your freezer and put it in surrounding air of 10 °C or alternatively 30 °C. Where will it melt faster? -Stefan]

  3. 53
    TD says:

    The TR Web of Science doesn’t really capture the range of publications that social scientists would use to assess scholarly output and impact. It is certainly one indicator of a social scientist’s output, but not adequate enough to stand alone. I put in the names of some researchers I know who have solid academic reputations and found limited returns for their citations because the databases do not cover all relevant journals in their field, and scholarly books and book chapters are not covered. Some major journals in my own field seem left out of TRWS. Peer-reviewed books by university press publishers are a serious part of any social science scholar’s reputation. But they don’t seem captured by TR Web of Science citation listings. This is another gap that would need to be filled to assess Lomborg’s scholarly status. Another reviewer above noted that Lomborg’s book, The Skeptical Environmentalist isn’t captured in the assessment, but should be. I agree since it was published by Cambridge UP, which has a great deal of status among social scientists. (How such an error-filled screed ever got through their peer-review process is another important question altogether!) On the other side, many of Lomborg’s citations in the TRWS are not really for research articles per se. They may appear in peer-reviewed journals, but we should distinguish between “opinion” or “commentary” pieces in these journals (very commmon these days) and research articles presenting new findings. If we limited the focus to his original, peer-reviewed research articles, his journal output would be even smaller. Now, these observations affect only a small part of Stefan Rahmstorf’s useful critique above, and certainly not the most devastating part – the discussion of Lomborg’s consistent deception and manipulation of data and research findings to support flawed conclusions. By any comprehensive assessment of Lomborg’s scholarly credentials, his work barely deserves a scholarly footnote in the climate change debates.

    [Response: So has Lomborg published a scientific paper that Web of Science missed, and which paper is it? -stefan]

  4. 54
    Piotr says:

    mikeworst: |I find it really disconcerting that you employ (attack the man) methods in trying to get your point, gain sympathy for your stance, across.”

    If you don’t like the message, shoot …Stefan? Well, unlike you, for me Stefan “gained sympathy for his stance” through presenting data and falsifiable arguments that by contradict claims by Lomborg. And it is the contradiction of the claims by facts that “attacks the man”. by their fruits ye shall know them …

    The case in point – the sea-level claims by Lomborg: anyone making pronouncements on the climate science HAS to know the difference between
    climate and weather, and that “two years” is NOT climate. Anyone making pronouncements on statistics HAS to know the difference between the long term trend (climate change) and statistical noise (weather). Yet somehow, Lomborg used a two year departure to question the validity of a … multidecadal trend, and not only that – he based on this he accsued the scientific community of hiding the truth: “Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?”

    Given Lomborg’s scientific education, I can’t see him being _that_ ignorant in climate science and statistics, so the only other possibility left – is a deliberate manipulation, aimed at misinforming the public – deliberate confounding of the “climate” with “weather”, and deliberate cherry-pick the particular weather to make things appear “much better than expected”. To paraphrase Archimedes – “Give me an outlier and I shall move any trend” …

    And isn’t it delightful that the same person who calls Stephans disproving of Lomoborgs claims with facts – “attacking the man”, himself did not bother to back up his own accusation with, well, anything. But don’t let the plank in your eye stop you from lecturing on the speck of dust in the eyes of others.

  5. 55
    Tom Adams says:

    Dust in the wind drove iron fertilization during ice age

    http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S39/53/29A19/index.xml?section=topstories

    Shame on that right-wing Paleo-Earth!

  6. 56
    Fernando says:

    I like Lomborg’s ideas. The guy is very pragmatic and smart. I suppose there are people who seem to hate his guts because they are obsessed with global warming as the top problem. I think other problems are more important.

  7. 57

    About defending the Bangladeshi coast: See L. Auerbach et al., “Flood risk of natural and embanked landscapes on the Ganges-Brahmaputra tidal delta plain,” Nature Climate Change 5, 153 (2015) (Disclosure: I am a co-author), F.K. Khadim et al., “Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Impacts in South West Coastal Zone of Bangladesh and Fact-Finding on Tidal River Management (TRM)” J. Water Resource & Protect. 5, 953 (2013) and Atiur Rahman’s book, “Beel Dakatia: The Environmental Consequences of a Development Disaster” (University Press, 1995)

    In the 1950s through the 1970s, following recommendations of the UN Krug Commission report, Bangladesh built a large network of more than 100 embankments, or “polders,” based on the Dutch model, for flood control in the coastal areas.

    The engineers designing and implementing this project did not account for the vast geological differences between the Bengal delta and the Netherlands. In Bangladesh, these polders prevented the natural flow of sediment onto the land and caused accelerated subsidence that contributed roughly 10 times more to relative sea level rise in many parts of the delta over the last 50 years than eustatic sea level rise.

    Thus, far from protecting the coast, these Dutch-style embankments increased problems of flooding, waterlogging, and vulnerability to catastrophic flooding when storm surges from cyclone Aila in 2009 destroyed several embankments, destroying the homes of tens of thousands of people much as Katrina did in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. And severe tropical cyclones hit Bangladesh an average of once every three years.

    Ironically, a number of Bengali engineers warned, in the 1920s and 30s, that building such embankments to control floods would actually make flood risks worse for the reasons I give above.

    Additional recent work by J. Pethick and J. Orford, “Rapid rise in Effective Sea-Level in southwest Bangladesh: Its causes and contemporary rates” Global Planetary Change 111, 237 (2013) showed that the embankments along the tidal channels of Bangladesh also caused tidal amplification, which further exacerbated relative sea-level rise.

    There is some hope for Bangladesh because if the land is not mismanaged (for instance, if sediment flow is not blocked by poorly designed systems of embankments and sluice gates), natural sediment deposition can cause significant aggradation of the land surface, enough to completely keep up with moderate sea-level rise. See, e.g., CA Wilson and SL Goodbred, “Building a large, tide-influenced delta on the Bengal margin: Linking process, morphology, and stratigraphy in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system,” Annu. Rev. Marine Sci. 7, 67 (2015). See also, the extensive literature on “Tidal River Management,” such as Khadim et al. (2013).

    However, even the billion tons a year of sediment carried by the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system is likely insufficient to keep pace with the kind of accelerated eustatic sea-level rise we expect in coming decades if the world continues to follow an RCP 8.5-like emissions trajectory.

    Lomborg’s poorly informed recommendations to Bangladesh and his ignorance of the disastrous consequences of Bangladesh’s past attempt to emulate Holland exemplify Santayana’s warning that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

  8. 58
    BojanD says:

    #51, Jim, I also find this misconception being repeated ad nauseam.

  9. 59

    F: I like Lomborg’s ideas.

    BPL: I like The Lord of the Rings, but I don’t confuse it with reality.

  10. 60
    Dan H. says:

    Stefan,
    Your analogy would be fine if the planet were to warm by 10 degrees. You have too competing factors; temperature and surface area. As the block of ice begins to melt, its surface area decreases, and it melt rate decreases. Hence, the melt rate is highest, when the block is largest. The two competing factors, increasing temperature and decreasing surface area, are opposing factors in the melt rate.

    Many alpine glaciers have already decreased significantly (Grinnell has lost two-thirds of its surface area), such that their rate of melting has slowed substantially.

    To date, lots of data has shown that sea level rise has not accelerated, but remained fairly constant (annual variations aside). Future temperatures would need to rise much faster to result in accelerated sea level rise.

    http://kaares.ulapland.fi/home/hkunta/jmoore/pdfs/Moorea59a019.pdf

    [Response: You forget another effect: while indeed land ice is lost at the warm end of the spectrum, new land ice surface that have never experienced melting before now become subject to seasonal melt as a result of global warming. We analysed that quantitatively in this paper, using a global dataset of ice surfaces and temperatures:
    Rahmstorf, S., M. Perrette, and M. Vermeer, 2011: Testing the Robustness of Semi-Empirical Sea Level Projections. Climate Dynamics. doi:10.1007/s00382-011-1226-7. The result is that sea-level rise will accelerate as it gets warmer. -stefan]

  11. 61
    Christoffer Bugge Harder says:

    @James Powell, David MacKay, Eric, Jim Eager, Pete Best (comments 17, 37,41, 50)

    When speaking of Lomborg´s notorious book “The sceptical environmentalist” (TSE) in relation to his academic merits, it is actually worth mentioning that Lomborg did, in fact, at first label it a “research monography” (“forskningsmonografi”, which in Danisch is equal to a doctoral dissertation above the PhD level) when he listed it on his 2001 publication list at the University of Århus. This was also the main reason that the Danisch Committee of scientific dishonesty (UVVU) considered his case as being within their jurisdiction. Then, when this case rolled, Lomborg and his supporters suddenly claimed that TSE was merely a “debate book” and that it was unfair to hold it to the standards of science or research with respect to the factual documentation, and that “selective discussion” (=cherry picking) was common in this genre. When the obvious question about how a mere debate book full of cherry picks could then be considered a scientific takedown of a plethora of well-supported facts from the natural sciences was asked, his most vocal public supporter (Tøger Seidenfaden, editor of the newspaper “Politiken”) then claimed in an editorial that his book was “debate on the highest scientific level”.

    Some people sure do try to have their cake and eat it, too.

    By the way, does people here know that Lomborg actually started his career as a flat-out denier? In his first op-ed in the aforementioned Politiken paper in 1998, he boldly stated that “The greenhouse effect is a highly dubious theory”. He made lots of similar whoppers in other scientific fields such as “we do not lose 40.000 species a year – we lose just about zero”, “globally, the forest cover has been more or less constant in the 20th century” or “that acid rain lead to forest deaths is a simple, but wrong statement”. His first couple of years as a public figure was characterised by an almost complete denouncing of almost every single environmental problem, no matter how well-documented, and corrections from lots and lots of experts did not stop him from relentlessly repeating them again and again.

    Over the years, and as he became known and moved into publishing in Englisch, he moderated most of these basic howlers somewhat. In TSE, he accepted the basics of the greenhouse effect, but added that it was likely exaggerated, and that Svensmark´s sunspot theory had “tremendous advantages” in explaining the modern temperature rise as compared to the greenhouse effect. When he published “Cool it” in 2007, this position had apparently become untenable, too, and now he suddenly claimed that “Global warming is real and caused by CO2. The trouble is that we cannot do much about it”. Evidently, this did not stop him from going a step back to claiming that the temperatures and sea levels were falling a year or two later, as Stefan writes.

    Lomborg is a perfect example of Freud´s famous case with the man who was accused of borrowing a kettle and returning it damaged, and who offered this defense against the charges: 1) I never borrowed the kettle, 2) I delivered it back in perfect condition, and 3) It was already damaged when I borrowed it. Lomborg even doubles down on this by firmly insisting that his position and his arguments have not changed over the years – which is obviously ludicrous.

    Good work, Stefan – and you could have been quite a lot harsher without being unfair. That it may be incorrect to lable Lomborg scientifically dishonest is mostly because of his lack of scientific content.

  12. 62
    Filip Hondekyn says:

    Stefan; read about the Dunkirk Transgression, you’ll be informed about the dramatic changes of the coastline of the Low Lands since the Late Roman Period.

  13. 63

    #55–Oh, everybody ‘likes’ the idea that climate change is nothing to worry about. The only problem is, it isn’t true.

    And what I ‘intensely dislike’ about Lomborg is that he is, apparently deliberately, choosing to obscure rather than illuminate the truth.

    Of course, he pulls down three quarters of a million p.a. for it. I guess that does indeed make him “pragmatic and smart,” though I could also think of other adjectives that apply.

  14. 64
    Jim Eager says:

    Stefan, my comment at 51 was in reply to mikeworst at 48, who characterized your post as “attack the man,” or an ad hominem. Of course you did not call Lomborg an idiot, and I did not mean for my examples to imply that you did.

  15. 65
    Jim Eager says:

    Sorry if I made you queezy, Bojan. You should take something for that.

  16. 66
    Brian Blagden says:

    Hi Stefan – I can’t seem to get the Web of Science Page to search for other author citations (I’m obviously doing something wrong). Anyway, in your item you provide Gary Yohe’s citation record and although impressive I’m not sure if his record is typical of most academics (or economists) or whether his record is an outlier. I was also interested in seeing how; a typical; a good; and a poor Climate Scientists citation record might look in comparison to Yohe’s… Presumably the citation record for good researchers (in any given field)should be fairly similar to Yohe’s. Perhaps it might be instructive to provide your citation record together with those of others at RealClimate.

    [Response: Brian, I thought of doing that but Yohe seemed to be an example of an academic working in an area closely related to Lomborg, that is why he was chosen. My own publication record can be viewed here. Last year my papers got cited about 900 times. -stefan]

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    [Response: The actual physical argument (backed up by lots of data – see my papers on sea-level rise) is: sea-level rise will accelerate because the planet is getting warmer…. -Stefan]

    Thanks Stefan. I’d forgotten to mention thermal expansion.

  18. 68
    Publicola says:

    Fernando:

    I like Lomborg’s ideas.

    Even Lomborg’s “ideas” that are scientifically invalid?

    For example Lomborg’s “idea” that “over the last two years, sea levels have not increased at all – actually, they show a slight drop. Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?” demonstrates:

    1) Willful manufacturing of scientifically-invalid anti-science propaganda, and/or

    2) A deep and fundamental ignorance in basic climate science, as well as statistical trend analysis more generally.

    Only someone not literate in basic climate science would honestly characterize Lomborg’s “idea” there as “likable” instead of what it is: scientifically invalid.

  19. 69
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Fernando,
    If you feel another problem is more important than climate change, then perhaps you ought to be posting on a blog dealing with that subject. And yet you are here.

    Likewise, Lomborg claims child nutrition is more important, and yet he has no publications on the subject. Odd, isn’t it, that someone who claims to be a serious academic would spend his or her time toiling in field that by their own estimation is unimportant?

    It would seem to me that any subject could rise to the apogee of importance as long as it was brought up in juxtaposition to climate change. Lomborg is a shill who uses the language of risk mitigation (albeit not very well) to obuscate the actual risks. The first thing you must do in risk mitigation is bound the potential losses if the threat is realized. Be sure to let us know when you and Bjorn have done that for climate.

  20. 70
    Mike Pollard says:

    Lomborg’s contribution to the scientific literature is woeful. Someone who spent several years working in my lab as a part-time intern is just graduating as an MD/PhD and is about to go out into the real world. He already has 10 papers and a h-index of 4. No one is laying $4 million at his feet but I’ll hazard a guess that his career will be a whole lot more productive than Lomborg’s. Just how much money has been wasted funding the career of this “media personality”.

  21. 71
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #55 (Fernando): You don’t present any argument in favor of Lomberg except one that essentially says that you like his ideas because they agree with your prejudices. Do you understand why we might not find this argument horribly compelling?

  22. 72
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Dan H: . As the block of ice begins to melt, its surface area decreases, and it melt rate decreases.

    RC: Plus, the remaining ice is at either a higher or lower elevation. 60% of melt is currently from small sources (including some or all of the Antarctic peninsula). Greenland is next at about 30% and Antarctica 10%

    https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/sea_level.html

    Small glaciers will increase in elevation and shrink in surface area. Greenland will decrease in elevation and increase in surface area as inlets to the interior expand. Antarctica is more about water temperature and buttressing. That’s so complicated that the pros can’t get within an order of magnitude of each other.

  23. 73
    Steve Fish says:

    Comment by Dan H. — 2 Sep 2015 @ 7:08 AM, ~#58

    You say- “As the block of ice begins to melt, its surface area decreases, and it melt rate decreases. Hence, the melt rate is highest, when the block is largest.”

    You are lecturing someone who practices professional physics about middle school physics and, it appears, you are wrong unless you are comparing a single large solid piece of ice to an ice cube. In the real world the big chunks break up into smaller pieces with, collectively, a much larger surface area than the original solid piece.

    Steve

  24. 74
    Richard Caldwell says:

    From Lomborg’s site:

    Bjorn Lomborg was born January 6, 1965.
    M.A. in political science, 1991.
    Ph.D. in political science at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. 1994.
    Assistant professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus, 1994-1996.
    Associate professor at the same place, 1997-2005.

    So he’s got no formal training in any physical science. He trained as a politician. He’s got less legitimacy to speak on climate matters than a typical follower of the School of RealClimate.

  25. 75
    flxible says:

    Brian B – It’s very easy to find a scientists publication and citation record google scholar shows thousands of cites for Stefan . . . check the bios of the other principals here by clicking the “contributors” link in the right sidebar

  26. 76
  27. 77
    Lotharsson says:

    For the small number (if any!) who are genuinely interested in tlitb1’s argument that the Lomborg quote in the article’s image is “fabricated” might explore it in more detail courtesy of the discussion I had that discussed that very point, starting at this tlitb1 comment which was a response to the previous one on that thread by me.

    Reading it over there would be much preferable to reiterating it here, as I suspect just about anyone who checks that thread will soon see. I stopped following that thread at #57 because I’d reached my head-scratching incredulity limit. (I also reckon my responses would have been better if I’d had the benefit of Stefan’s vastly superior understanding of sea level.)

  28. 78
    Dan H. says:

    Steve,
    If you read Stefan’s response, he was referring to a big block of ice.

    In the real world, most glaciers retreat from their terminus, and shrink in size, leaving less surface area. Sea ice will break up, leaving a much greater surface area. But sea ice does not contribute to sea level rise.

  29. 79
    AnOilMan says:

    I can’t believe anyone takes Bjorn seriously. He’s a ‘Political’ Scientist. (You have to say that the same way you’d say ‘criminal’ lawyer from Breaking Bad.)

    He studied game theory and how to sway votes. Here’s what John Mashey had to say about him a while back;
    https://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/lomborg-long-game/

    Since then Bjorn has refined his ideology to closely match conservative think tanks like so;
    http://desmogblog.com/2015/07/21/bjorn-lomborg-brings-profit-protective-policies-back-to-denmark

    Bjorn is calling for us to do nothing about Global Warming, and increase taxes to give to the third world to help them. He’s backed by the very people who will oppose any such endeavor. Furthermore Bjorn’s backers have done nothing to help the third world.

    So I ask… Who’s taking him seriously?

  30. 80
    Jim Eager says:

    Gill Raker, do you have some constructive reason for directing us to an opinion piece by Roger Pielke Jr., who, like Bjorn Lomborg, holds a doctorate in political science but no degree in physical science?

  31. 81
    Bryson Brown says:

    Tmarvel @ 38: I agree. There is something odd going on that press, though perhaps it’s only a matter of satisfying an identifiable market for certain points of view. CUP published a creationist/ intelligent design tract by Willam Dembski (he of the ‘specified complexity’ argument, with its mangling of information theory). Really bad stuff, and makes fits nicely alongside Lomborg’s distortions.

  32. 82
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dan H. … In the real world, most glaciers retreat from their terminus …

    You’ve quit citing sources again, Dan.
    Please remember to do that.

    Are you getting “most” glaciers by counting names? Where do you get this?

    What directly affects sea level the volume of ice, or meltwater, that reaches the ocean. Ice is melting where the ocean intrudes underneath it isn’t floating yet. Its contribution to sea level rise comes when it pushes out as a floating ice shelf, or calves, into the ocean.

    The largest glacier in East Antarctica, containing ice equivalent to a six-metre (20-foot) rise in global sea levels, is melting due to warm ocean water….

    http://phys.org/news/2015-01-ocean-east-antarctica-largest-glacier.html

    In recent years, many glaciers have lost their tongues; now they end in blunt cliffs of ice that reach more or less straight down to the ocean …

    http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/a-glaciers-pace

    When such a glacier retreats up its channel by melting faster than it moves downhill — the meltwater still goes downhill.

    http://water.usgs.gov/edu/graphics/glaciermap.gif

    The vast majority, almost 90 percent, of Earth’s ice mass is in Antarctica, while the Greenland ice cap contains 10 percent of the total global ice mass.

    You can look this stuff up.

    So can anyone who’s curious where you’re getting the claims you assert.

  33. 83
  34. 84

    “In the real world, most glaciers retreat from their terminus, and shrink in size, leaving less surface area. Sea ice will break up, leaving a much greater surface area. But sea ice does not contribute to sea level rise.”

    Really? IMO, that’s a masterpiece of oversimplification.

    For one thing, marine glaciers ‘retreating from their terminus’ may do so by repeated calving, which creates ‘sea ice’ which does in fact ‘raise sea level’ at the moment of calving–since that’s when it becomes sea-borne (notionally, at least.) And that is associated with accelerated glacial flow in a number of real world instances which we are all aware of. (It’s already been pointed out that this may also increase flow far inland.) For another, increased temperatures are associated with moulins, melt lakes and drainages, which may increase both basal melt (so speeding flow) and transport of heat into the interior of the glacier. Again, there’s real world observations going to this point.

    For another, as glaciers shrink, so does exposed ground. So, I’ll see your ‘surface area feedback’ and raise you an albedo feedback.

  35. 85
    Jim Bowron says:

    Dan @ 78- True enough about sea ice, but large blocks of ice like Greenland and Antarctica lose land ice by calving glaciers, which break up when they hit the ocean and expose more surface area to both the air and the warmer water-and they do raise sea level.

  36. 86
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Dan H. — 3 Sep 2015 @ 10:10 AM, ~#78

    Dan, the point is that as a chunk of ice shrinks, its surface area per unit volume increases so that it melts faster.

    Steve

  37. 87
    Paul Donahue says:

    Prof. Rahmsdorf correctly stated that Bangladesh is not the Netherlands, but he greatly understates how different it is. That is not a just an alluvial plain that Bangladesh occupies, but the delta of the Ganges-Brahmaputra – the third largest river in the world in terms of average discharge. I’m a civil engineer, and I don’t see how the lowlands could ever be feasibly be reclaimed from sea-level rise – forget the length of levees and dikes – just the pumping capacity needed would be mind-boggling.

    I once admired the government of Australia – but the very idea of a government trying force a university to give this pundit who laughably calls himself a “scientist” a professors seat evokes pre-Galilean medieval imagery.

  38. 88

    Dan H: another point you miss is that ice does not have to melt to raise sea level. All it has to do is land in the ocean. Add to that the fact that much of the Antractic ice sheet is grounded below sea level. That means that warmth from below could destabilize it. Unfortunately as far as I know no one has good models on how that instability could occur or how fast.

    If a 4 km thick chunk of ice, grounded 2km below sea level, broke away, that would be interesting. You would get 2 waves of tsunamis: the first when the ice hit the water, the second from isostatic rebound.

    Those claiming there is some sort of ivory tower elitism involved in not appointing a person with a thin publication record as a professor: what do you think qualifies someone to be a professor? Is it “ivory tower elitism” if you refuse to employ a plumber who has no apprenticeship, trade qualification or practical experience?

  39. 89
    Dan H. says:

    Steve,
    Not true. While the ratio of surface area to volume increases as the ice melts, and the melt may increase on a percentage basis, it is the volume of melt that contributes to sea level rise. As a glacier shrinks, its volume and surface area shrink. A smaller surface area will absorb less solar radiation, resulting in less shrinkage. A “cliff” of ice has less surface area exposed, and at a lower angle of incidence, than a tongue. Hence, when a glacial loses a large chunk of its tongue, its recession slows dramatically in the next few years.

    Calving is a unique aspect of glacial retreat, and does need to be treated separately. To date this has been a smaller [overall] contributor, but not insignificant, and higher in some locales. Some compute models have shown that calving will play a smaller role in the future.

    http://www.ice2sea.eu/2013/07/10/p2013_08/

    Antarctic ice that is truly grounded below sea level, which actually lower sea level, if it were to melt, as it currently occupies more volume than the resulting water would. This is a different case than floating ice.

    As Kevin stated, this is an oversimplification. But what do you expect in a few paragraphs. Also, the Earth’s albedo will increase by a miniscule amount, but that will not affect the glacier – the ground albedo at the terminus will be unchanged, although the surface area will decrease as the glacier retreats uphill. Once again, you have the angle of incidence working against increased melt – this time of the exposed ground.

    Not included in this entire discussion is changes in precipitation. Increased summer ablation can be counter by an increase in winter snowfall. Yes, it is complicated.

  40. 90
    Jim Eager says:

    Dan H wrote: “Antarctic ice that is truly grounded below sea level, which actually lower sea level, if it were to melt, as it currently occupies more volume than the resulting water would.

    Assuming Dan meant to type “will” instad of “which,” he is wrong for two reasons:

    1) That part of a grounded glacier or ice shelf between the sea bottom and the sea surface is already displacing seawater, but the portion from the sea surface to the top of the ice is not. When the shelf breaks off and floats or melts in place it will displace more seawater, and thus increase sea level.

    2) The ice consists of frozen fresh water; the sea consists of salt water. When the ice melts the resulting density difference more than offsets the volume difference between frozen and liquid water states by a very small positive margin.

  41. 91
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Steve: Dan, the point is that as a chunk of ice shrinks, its surface area per unit volume increases so that it melts faster.

    RC: Yes, the melt percentage per unit volume increases, but no, the absolute melt rate decreases.The issue isn’t “How much of this glacier will melt this year?”, but “How much will this glacier contribute to sea level rise this year?”

    Phillip: If a 4 km thick chunk of ice, grounded 2km below sea level, broke away, that would be interesting. You would get 2 waves of tsunamis: the first when the ice hit the water, the second from isostatic rebound.

    RC: No. No tsunami of any sort. Isotatic rebound is SLOW and ice shedding isn’t near fast enough to cause a tsunami. Plus, “landing in the ocean” is EXACTLY the definition of “melting”. Where it happens is irrelevant.

    Dan H: Hence, when a glacial loses a large chunk of its tongue, its recession slows dramatically in the next few years… Not included in this entire discussion is changes in precipitation. Increased summer ablation can be counter by an increase in winter snowfall.

    RC: It is silly to “assume” that stuff goes your way. When a large chunk of tongue reveals a wider front, then stuff gets worse. If summer temperatures increase, then precipitation melts ice as opposed to creates it. You’re truly one-sided, and that ain’t science.

  42. 92
    Victor says:

    Stefan: “It only takes a look at Google Earth to see how preposterous the comparison of Holland and Bangladesh is (Fig. 6). The latter coastline is vastly more difficult to defend against rising seas, and unlike Holland it is in the path of tropical cyclones.”

    It is also preposterous to assume that the level of sea level rise supposedly threatening Bangla Desh can be ameliorated in any significant way by cutting back on ff emissions, even to the extent of eliminating them — at least for approximately the next 100 years. So what exactly are we talking about here? Is this a purely theoretical discussion or does anyone actually have a plan that would make a significant difference to the millions of currently living souls deemed at risk?

  43. 93
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Antarctic ice that is truly grounded below sea level

    Your capacity to craft true but misleading statements is awe-inspiring.

    Yes, look at the picture: http://cdn.antarcticglaciers.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Antarctic_profile_hg.png

    Considering solely that portion of the West Antarctic ice cap which is “grounded below sea level” — only the ice actually at or below sea level — then what you write is, while misleading, literally true, because, yes, it “currently occupies more volume than the resulting water would.”

    Any and all ordinary water ice occupies more volume than the resulting water. Duh. SO clever.

    As long as your audience doesn’t think. Try thinking, though, and — what?

    The ice cap is grounded below sea level — why?

    Look at the picture again.

    What you write is true, if, once the below-sea-level part of the ice cap melts, the overburden — the ice above sea level — levitates, without falling down.

    Very good, Dan.

  44. 94
    sidd says:

    i wasnt going to comment on Yet Another Charlatan Debunking post, but the stupid, it truly burns.

    “Antarctic ice that is truly grounded below sea level, which actually lower sea level, if it were to melt, as it currently occupies more volume than the resulting water would”

    Thirty seconds. Hell, ten seconds of thinking discovers that a grounded mass of marine fronted ice that would lower sea level if melted would ALREADY be afloat. If it wasn’t intuitively obvious already.

    Volume Above Flotation. VAF. Learn about it. This is not difficult, Archimedes knew about it.

    The first word of the Koran is “Read.” I recommend that sentiment, together with another: “Think.”

    sidd

  45. 95
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Dan H. — 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:45 AM, ~#89

    Dan, I am having a problem with what you have said. First it was doubt that the rate of sea level rise would increase as the world got warmer. When corrected by Stefan Rahmstorf, a publishing climate physicist, you object with a backward surface/volume relationship. Now you have switched from alpine glaciers to outlet glaciers which drain the continental ice sheets that contain most of the water that will contribute to sea level rise in the future. These glaciers are not shrinking and their outlet rate will certainly increase as the world warms. I don’t wish to pursue this further.

    Steve

  46. 96
    Mal Adapted says:

    Steve Fish, to Dan H.:

    You are lecturing someone who practices professional physics about middle school physics

    ‘Nuff said. Dan H. is the paradigmatic victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Those afflicted:

    fail to recognize their own lack of skill
    fail to recognize genuine skill in others
    fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy

    The possibility that he will

    recognize and acknowledge his own lack of skill, after he is exposed to training for that skill

    Is theoretical at best, as he has been exposed to a great deal of training, as it were, and has yet to demonstrate any melioration of his affliction.

  47. 97
    Hank Roberts says:

    Bangladesh, you say?
    from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/03/how-so-many-of-the-worlds-people-live-in-so-little-of-its-space/?tid=pm_business_pop_b

    https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2015/08/population-density.jpg

    … two areas of equal population in red and blue. The blue region in the map above contains all or part of more than 60 countries, while the red region contains just two: All of Bangladesh, and the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal in India.

  48. 98
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    Stefan :“In a recent controversy centering on him, the Australian government (known for its contradictory position on climate change) offered the University of Western Australia (UWA) $4 million to make Lomborg professor – which UWA first accepted, but then after massive protest from its staff and students refused.” – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/08/bjorn-lomborg-just-a-scientist-with-a-different-opinion/#sthash.cFIeREyr.dpuf

    Stefan & realclimate, I have a number of questions about this ‘event’. I agree Lombord’s appointment was inappropriate and was politically driven, not just by Australia’s Govt but by a coordinated ideologically/belief driven group against the science. iow it was all ‘politics’ and disinformation.

    The article here, written 4 months after the event is solid. My questions are not rhetorical “complaints” nor ‘a personal attack’ of RC, but true questions about what did Stefan/RC do back in April/May when this news broke.
    I am also mindful about the importance of personal privacy and confidentiality, and respect that and know why it matters in cases like this.
    I am also mindful that this decision by UWA could have easily gone the other way, with Lomborg now formerly established in the political world of THE #1 Climate Denying Mining State in Australia.

    Was something like this summary sent to the UWA Board?
    To the Australian Education Minister, his opposite number, or to The Greens?
    To any of other key representatives and senators in Australia’s Parliament?
    To the Media in Australia, such as the Guardian au, Fairfax media, or the ABC?
    To the Climate Change Authority?
    To all the other major Universities which were being targeted to do what the UWA finally refused to do?
    Did Stefan or any other ‘media savvy’ RC scientist offer themselves as ‘talking heads’ with scientific credibility, to any media outlet in Australia to discuss publicly Lomborg’s total lack of scientific expertise in the subject, and his obvious failings in the recent past?
    Or quickly write up a short opinion piece, signed by as many Climate scientists you could find in a short time to co-sign it, and submit it to all major media outlets in Australia at the time this was a major drama?

    There are about 30,000 climate scientists and associates involved in climate science today. Besides the IPCC UNFCCC which have their obvious issues, how well coordinated and organised are climate scientists in addressing globally spread events that are attacking YOUR scientific credibility at every opportunity wiht the powerful support of existing national Governments?

    [Response: Good points. I think that climate scientists are not well organised at all in this regard. I would wish that scientific organisations would get more engaged. Regarding Australia, personally I felt this was an issue to be dealt with by the Australian scientific community (who has proven perfectly capable of doing so) and not a matter for a German climate scientist to get involved in. However, several things like this Australia story and Lomborg’s interview in Bangladesh motivated me to comment on his sea-level claims as they are in my field of expertise, but because I am very busy it took me some months to get round to it. Unlike Lomborg, writing public commentary is not a job I have much time for or get paid for. -stefan]

  49. 99
    Erik de Haan says:

    If somebody would like to read some serious science on climate change and the risk of flooding in the Netherlands I can recommend this article: The co-incidence of storm surges and extreme discharges within the Rhine–Meuse Delta, IOP open science:

    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/10/3/035005;jsessionid=52D8204148D9735653ACB934E96EBB32.c1

    I am not familiar with the situation in Bangladesh, but in the Netherlands it’s the combination of high surge and high river discharge which could cause real problems in the delta area (Rotterdam-Dordrecht). According to the article cited above there is co-incidence between surge and multi day precipitation events, but luckily for us, there is a considerable time lag between the two.

    It also illustrates that you have to take all the differences in coastal/river systems into account to make a good scientific judgement on what is going to happen in reality. I don’t think Bjorn Lomborg is capable of doing that.

    After 25 year’s experience as a policy advisor in environmental issues with a background in economics I must admit that I can’t take Bjorn Lomborg very serious. Not as an economist let alone as someone who really knows something about environmental issues.

  50. 100

    94 — isn’t the first sentence in the Qu’ran “In the name of God, the beneficent, the almighty?”