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Environmentalism Trashed Again By: James K. Glassman
AEI | Saturday, December 20, 2003


The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation today severely repudiated a board which, a year ago, had judged The Skeptical Environmentalist, the best-selling book by Bjorn Lomborg, "objectively dishonest" and "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice."

Lomborg's book--with 2,930 footnotes, 1,800 bibliographical references, 173 figures and nine tables--powerfully challenged the conventional wisdom that the world's environment was going to hell. When it was published in English in 2001, the book, published by the distinguished Cambridge University Press, was praised in the Washington Post, the Economist and elsewhere.

That reception provoked panic among radical greens. In early 2002, the Economist reported that "Mr. Lomborg is being called a liar, a fraud and worse. People are refusing to share a platform with him. He turns up in Oxford to talk about this book, and the author . . . of a forthcoming study on climate change throws a pie in his face."

In January 2002, Scientific American magazine published a special section titled "Science Defends Itself Against 'The Skeptical Environmentalist.'" Articles by perfervid critics of Lomborg covered 11 pages. All this attention, however, served merely to boost sales of the book, which nearly two years after its publication still ranked first in its category on Amazon.com.

Then, in January, came what enviros figured would be the coup de grace: a report by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSC). The report was, to be charitable, a piece of junk, but its conclusions, coming from an official body, were nonetheless given prominent display in world media. The New York Times headlined its page 7 story by Andrew Revkin, "Environment and Science: Danes Rebuke a 'Skeptic.'"

Now, the Danes have issued a well-deserved rebuke to the rebukers.

The Ministry of Science characterized the DCSC's treatment of the case as "dissatisfactory," "deserving criticism," and "emotional." It found that the ruling was "completely void of argumentation."

No kidding. The DCSC simply relied on excerpts from the Scientific American smears. The only other evidence came from Time magazine.

In its conclusion, the Ministry sent the case back to the DCSD "with an injunction that the DCSD should allow itself to be advised by the Danish Social Science Research Council in matters regarding good scientific practice. In summary, the Ministry must also state that, in its opinion, the treatment by the DCSD of this case deserves criticism."

The ministry's decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for environmental radicals in recent months. I just returned from COP-9, the big United Nations conference on global warming, held in Milan. Never have I seen enviros so dispirited or in such disarray. The Kyoto Protocol, which requires severe cutbacks in carbon-dioxide emissions, is clearly dead. The Europeans are still waiting for the Russians to ratify the treaty. Instead, the Russians are making the most cogent case, intellectually and economically, against it.

Meanwhile, new reports have repudiated Michael Mann's "hockey stick" theory of sharply rising temperatures, a mainstay of warming enthusiasts; have shown that the last century was not particularly warm in comparison with other, pre-industrial periods; and have made a strong case for solar activity, not human intervention, as the main factor in warming.

Earlier, the U.S. Senate soundly defeated the McCain-Lieberman bill, which would have foisted a "Kyoto Lite" on the United States. The bill lost despite the fact that Sen. McCain sold it as costing just $20 per family (a study by Charles River Associates found otherwise, but the green propaganda made the bill sound not disruptive at all, and still it lost).

And now, the vindication of Lomborg--the mild-mannered statistician who simply said that the emperor had no clothes.


James K. Glassman is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and host of TechCentralStation.com. He is also chairman of Investors Action, a new advocacy organization for America's small investors.


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