The Lomborg continued etc

Posted September 11th, 2007 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Category 5 Spin, Civics 101, The Lomborg

I’m blogging from a location where I can’t get Comedy Central, and only have a dial-up connection, so I haven’t been able to watch Stephen Colbert put The Lomborg in his place yet – but see David Roberts post, or go straight to Comedy Central. I may have more comments after I see it, in follow-up to this previous post. In related news that I can read, Michael Tobis has comments on a New York Times article that ponders whether Lomborg should be taken seriously. No. While it is news to me that he advocates a carbon tax, limiting coastal development and expanding wetlands, those aren’t the reasons he has been given a megaphone. Even supposing he were intellectually serious and honest, and has a few of his lines right, if he doesn’t understand the complexity, why is he getting the attention? For the moment, I’m not going to go there.

In unrelated news, in Italy (where I came to attend a family wedding etc….), Saturday was “V-day”, short for “Vaffanculo Day,” when, in response to a call from the comedian Beppe Grillo, using only his blog since he doesn’t get on television much anymore, 300,000 people came to selected town squares to sign a petition for a law that would prohibit convicted criminals from being elected to public office, set term limits, and allow people to vote for the actual members of parliament instead of just for the party. Apparently there are about 25 former convicts now in office, cronies of the former prime minister, who also appeared on TV  that evening, saying it is imperative that this government fail so there can be another election in the spring… He still has not accepted defeat. From Pisa, this is Sylvia “Not Poggioli” reporting….

One Response to “The Lomborg continued etc”

  1. Hello, Silvia. Thank you for the attention, and I regret that our first actual exchange is built around a disagreement. My point is not that Lomborg stands any chance of being correct. My point is that the way in which he is incorrect is very commonly accepted and needs to be approached on its own terms. Lomborg’s error is not based on scrambling the scientific facts anywhere near as much as it is based on accepting the presumptions of conventional economics. Nor will holding people in contempt because they accept conventional economics help matters. We must point out that the playing field here is not science, but rather value systems, some rather nasty ones of which are posing as objectivity under the rubric of “economics”. Lomborg may have a bias toward attending to the evidence that makes the climate change problem look relatively small, and you and I and Joe Romm and David Roberts may tilt the other way. This is natural and human; who of us has the right intuitions here is something time will tell, but it’s far from a basis for an accusation of intellectual impropriety. The main reason Lomborg comes to his conclusions, which strike us as bizarre and dangerous, is not primarily because he resists the conventional wisdom of environmental scientists, but rather because he embraces the conventional wisdom of economists. It is the latter area where the battle should be fought. Quibbling about polar bears, or mocking the man’s black shirt, or accusing him of being deliberately evil, all seems to miss the point, which is that the biosphere is not meaningfully subject to a discount rate. I don’t deny that deliberate evil is about. However, I so far haven’t seen any evidence that Lomborg doesn’t actually believe what he says. Hence, I don’t see that accusing him of being evil is productive. Further, what he believes is coherently wrong, not stupidly wrong, and so needs to be addressed with care.
    [Thank you for your comment – the point of disagreement I had with your post is a minor one, as I agree in general with most of what you say. But the difference is an important one that I may elaborate in another post when I get back from a trip I am on. Briefly, regardless of whether Lomborg actually believes what he says, I don’t think it is even good economics. I hope we will hear from some environmental economists on this. I would also like to hear statements directly from those experts listed as signing off on his “Copenhagen Consensus.” Secondly, given his faulty and oversimplistic logic. why is he given the megaphone. or even the time of day? sst]

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