NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Danish Professor Ruffles Environmental Establishment

January 23, 2003

Bjorn Lomborg teaches statistics at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. He is the author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," and describes himself as a vegetarian liberal and a former member of Greenpeace.

Perhaps it's the statistical background, but he became disenchanted with the environmental movement some years ago and set about unmasking its excesses in his book.

Employing statistics from reliable sources, he established that:

  • The Earth is not running out of energy and natural resources -- and that there is ever more food and fewer people are starving.
  • In 1900, the average life expectancy was 30 years -- while today it is 67.
  • We have reduced poverty more in the past 50 years than in the preceding 500.
  • Air pollution in the industrialized world has been declining -- and in London, the air has never been cleaner since medieval times.

Such scientifically-validated assertions never set well with environmental scaremongers and his former colleagues set about vilifying their former friend and his work.

  • Despite favorable reviews in other publications, the magazines Nature and Scientific American strongly dismissed "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
  • Challengers tried to pressure his publisher, the Cambridge University Press, to halt publication.
  • Others drew an official Danish review body -- the curiously-named Committee for Scientific Dishonesty -- into the debate and asked it to judge the book against a complaint of deliberate and conscious distortion of the data in order to fit preconceived conclusions.
  • The committee bowed to the pressure and found the book a "systematically biased representation."

To adapt an old adage to modern times, "Hell hath no fury like an environmentalist scorned."

Source: Bjorn Lomborg (University of Aarhus, Denmark), "Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark," Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2003.


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