of books by Bjorn Lomborg

BJORN LOMBORG is associate professor of statistics at the department of political science, University of Aarhum, Denmark

The skeptical environmentalist
by Bjorn Lomborg
Cambridge University Press, 2001

Lomborg has written a detailed and well documented account of environmental indicators and has done so with the implicit goal of demystifying doomsday thinking in the environmental community. Lomborg is a careful writer with a clear and lucid style and the strength of this book also comes from the many references and sources that the reader may look up, if time allows. The book is subtitles 'Measuring the real state of the world' which refers to the scientific presentation of reports and statistics that national and international organizations have collected and published.

This book has a message. This message says that the conditions of the environment are better than people know or want to believe. The message is not that everything is just fine and that no effort is needed to save the world from destruction, to prevent malnutrition, or provide sufficient water to everyone. Environmental messages tend to be prognosis of what is to come, usually deterioration of the environment, overpopulation and hunger. As a statistician, Lomborg discusses trends based on population statistics or market indicators. He demonstrates that many negative trends that have been predicted have been based on short term data ignoring long term trends that may need decades or centuries to data to be meaningful. Short term fluctuations are common in nature and long term trends need to be measured in order to distinguish a trend from a fluctuation. The environmental literature seems to be have too many trends based on short term data that are clearly temporary trends (i.e. fluctuations) than long term trends.

A note beyond the book: The book has stirred up the environmental community which accused Lomborg of bias und unsound science. For more information see greenspirit and lomborg web sites.


February 1, 2003 /  © 2003 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home