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Lomborg on a tech fix

The US presidential candidates have joined the ranks of those maintaining an embarrassed silence over global warming. After years of being lectured on the need to adopt one foolish policy after another, this silence is something of a breakthrough.

Bjorn Lomborg has decided to treat this uncharacteristic quietude as an opportunity and is providing a free overview of climate policy for Messrs Romney and Obama.

The Copenhagen Consensus is a think tank that ranks the economically smartest approaches to a variety of issues. In 2009, we asked 27 of the world's top climate economists to identify the costs and benefits of the top climate solutions. A group of eminent economists, including three Nobel laureates, ranked the smartest ways to fix the climate. Their answer was: Don't continue to expand current policies. Trying to make fossil fuels so costly that no one wants them is bad economics, in addition to being bad politics.

His proposed solution is technological - cheaper energy sources the main feature and geoengineering technology developed (but not deployed) as insurance.

It's certainly not as daft as current policies.

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Reader Comments (25)

Thorium power being one avenue to pursue

Nov 6, 2012 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy scrase

Lomborg - to me - always seems to be a voice of reason, balance and above all - knowledge born of studying the actual data rather than regurgitating spin, hype and dogma. That is why those with an agenda always vilify him.

Nov 6, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

Bjorn, is not above a little misdirection, or a subtle sleight of hand is he?

If Obama wins, it's 'full steam ahead' for the greens in thru' the back door - Obama has always been quite 'an operator'.

Nov 6, 2012 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"Trying to make fossil fuels so costly that no one wants them is bad economics, in addition to being bad politics."

That's a viewpoint I can agree with. The reductio ad absurdum of a commonly expressed environmentalist train of thought is essentially: "The market price of fossil fuels will rise in the future, therefore we must take steps to make it rise today."

Nov 6, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

i have no interest in obama or romney or, for that matter, our counterparts in australia (or anywhere to be honest). also, i do believe the CAGW agenda will go forward no matter who wins in the US, otherwise romney would be exposing the damage & the waste, not to mention the dodgy science.

nevertheless, here's larry bell at forbes:

(2 pages) 4 Nov: EPA's Insanely Ambitious Agenda If Obama Is Reelected
A new report released by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Committee enumerates a slew of planned EPA regulations that have been delayed or punted on until after the election that will destroy millions of American jobs and cause energy prices to skyrocket even more.
Titled “A Look Ahead to EPA Regulations for 2013: Numerous Obama EPA Rules Placed on Hold Until After the Election Spell Doom For Jobs and Economic Growth”, it lists and describes new rules concocted over the past year ranging from additional restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, tougher water guidelines and tightening of the ozone standard. Taken together, they will further drive up pump prices, impose construction bans on local communities, and cripple oil, natural gas and coal production...

Nov 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

"smartest ways to fix the climate"

This expresses paranoia, delusion and megalomania.
And you respect this guy?

Nov 6, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

First smart thing to do is find out whether it needs fixing. IMHO, it ain't broke.

Nov 6, 2012 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

someone on WUWT's Tips & Notes mentioned this scottish fellow, graeme maxton, who boasts that he is a fellow of The Club of Rome, had an article in the Scottish press recently, but he couldn't locate a link. wouldn't be surprised if it was along the following lines, with its pretense of being antiwar, which i'm not excerpting:

2 Nov: South China Morning Post: Climate change a clear and present danger
Graeme Maxton says despite repeated warnings of the catastrophic consequences of climate change, most recently in the form of Hurricane Sandy, we've been focused on other, senseless battles for too long
It almost seems fitting. The country that uses the most oil, has produced the greatest amount of carbon dioxide emissions for decades and has consistently denied the evidence of climate change has been given the slap it required. With tens of deaths, a crushed infrastructure and billions of dollars worth of damage, Hurricane Sandy is the wake-up call America needed...
A few weeks ago, I attended the general assembly of the Club of Rome, in Bucharest. There, we were presented with the latest evidence on the effects of climate change, and they were scary. Predictions made just five years ago have already proved wildly wrong.
In 2007, scientists said they thought the Arctic would be ice-free by the end of this century. At the current rate of melting, however, it will now be ice-free in the summer by 2015. It will be ice-free all year by 2030. This is not the main worry, however, as this is floating ice. When it melts, it does not raise sea levels. The real worry is the Greenland ice shelf, which is also melting at an unprecedented rate. If this disappears too, the effects will be catastrophic.
Sea levels around the world will rise between six and seven metres, wiping out cities like New York, London and Shanghai...
At the same time, rising temperatures in the northern hemisphere now risk melting much of the Siberian permafrost, which will release vast clouds of trapped methane, accelerating the speed of climate change even more. This risks starting a chain reaction, which we could do nothing to stop.
The effects of what we are doing to the planet are all around us, from the storms and floods this year to the record droughts. Since 1980, the number of natural catastrophes has risen from an average of 400 a year to about 800 now, according to reinsurance company Munich Re...
Without change, we are now heading for a four-degree rise, which will take the earth's average temperature back to levels last seen 40 million years ago. This will cause the Antarctic to melt too, with sea levels rising 60-70 metres. The droughts and floods we would experience along the way would make the planet virtually uninhabitable...
Graeme Maxton is a fellow of the Club of Rome.

comment aplucky1: love the way you BOZO's changed from absolute certainty of global warming to now coin it "climate change"
you are all clowns and liars with your own personal agenda

comment Maxton: Oops. You caught me out there. You are right! Of course I have a personal agenda. I want to protect the world for my grandchildren (and yours), silly as that seems. Now where did I put my face make-up and size 28 shoes?...

Wikipedia: Graeme Maxton
Maxton was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 26 June 1960. After attending George Heriot's School he gained a first class honors degree from The University of Abertay, majoring in economics and operations research. He has an MBA from Cass Business School in London, formally City University and is related to two prominent Scottish Labour Party politicians, James Maxton and John (now Lord) Maxton...
Maxton was a contributor to The Economist and The Economist's annual 'The World In' publication for many years and now writes for a number of international newspapers and magazines in Europe, US and Asia, including The Irish Times and South China Morning Post. He is also a frequent guest host on the Asian edition of CNBC’s morning news program, “Squawk Box”...
His most recent book, The End of Progress, How Modern Economics Has Failed Us (Wiley, 2011) was nominated for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2011...

Nov 6, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

The University of Abertay was only created in 1994, assuming a typical 4 year Scottish degree the earliest he could have graduated from that university would be 1998. Interesting it states that "After attending George Heriot's School he gained a first class honors degree from The University of Abertay"

Wow he must have left school at 34 or older!

Nov 6, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I'm not sure why Lomborg is still relevant, if he ever was. Like Monckton he points out the obvious disparities based on accepting "the consensus". The actual debate is happening in an entirely different location.

Nov 6, 2012 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterredc

I know Lomborg is probably more relevant than I am, because, like our host, he writes and sells books on the matter. I also find him a good speaker, from what I have seen of him on TV.

I certainly don't accept the proposition that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is anything to worry about vis-a-vis global warming (or anything else). Lomborg arrives from the other direction. As I understand him, he generally doesn't accept the proposition that global warming is something we should be wasting huge amounts of money on, because he believes the money would be better spent elsewhere.

I would much rather see Lomborg's books used as undergraduate course material than I would Michael Mann's books, and Lomborg has also been on the receiving end of people employing bullying tactics similar to those advocated by Mann.

Nov 6, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I have a lot of respect for Lomborg. While I would not agree with all his views, I agree with most. And I can say his book 'The Skeptical Environmentalist' was one of the most influential on my own thinking. I am an environmentalist, but have learned to read scare stories - on much wider issues than just the environment, for example food and health - with more rational scepticism.

Nov 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

If Obama wins again, the world is going to enter a very dark time. US is turning more and more socialist aka facist.

Nov 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterUranusIsFullOfGas

CP At the time he went there it was presumably the Dundee Institute of Technology, which appears to have been a perfectly respectable place to study. However it clearly did not sound grand enough for Mr Maxton so he has retrofitted the new name to his degree. When we were recruiting graduates we automatically weeded out any who were too ashamed of their institute or polytechnic to put it on their CV, as we saw it as an indication of potential dishonesty. (As is, I might add, membership of the Club of Rome or Globe) On the other hand two of our directors are alumni of polytechnics.

Nov 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

By coincidence or not, such viewpoints are not only not daft, but very sensible (and this irrespective of the scientific details).

Nov 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

What planet does this economist Graeme Maxton live, the same one onw which Lord Sir Nicholas Stern resides perahps, who clearly foretold of the impending economic crisis (not) from way back when, the same one that Lehman Brothers once inhabited, who predicted what the Climate would be in 2100 & where investments should be funnelled, based on two flawed reports using data provided by a Mr A. Gore & a Dr J. Hansen,yet who couldn't see their own fate 12 months in advance!!! That's economists for you! The Club of Rome is nothing more than a Malthusian I want to rule the world my way organisation, secretive, & deceiving, If Obama loses he will no doubt join Tony & Bill et al in it!

Nov 6, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit


"They suggested instead three changes to the way the United States approaches climate change. First, we should aim to make green energy so cheap everyone will want it. This will require heavy investment in research and development of better, smarter green technologies."

Case in point.

Game changer: The "green" nuclear. Molten salt thorium nuclear reactors. Much cheaper, safer, and cleaner.

Feb 2011

"China has officially announced it will launch a program to develop a thorium-fueled molten-salt nuclear reactor, taking a crucial step towards shifting to nuclear power as a primary energy source."

"The project was unveiled at the annual Chinese Academy of Sciences conference in Shanghai last week, and reported in the Wen Hui Bao newspaper (Google English translation here)."

"If the reactor works as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy. The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the United States could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy."

June 2012

"The U.S. Department of Energy is quietly collaborating with China on an alternative nuclear power design known as a molten salt reactor that could run on thorium fuel rather than on more hazardous uranium, SmartPlanet understands."

"Proponents of thorium MSRs, also known as liquid thorium reactors or sometimes as liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs), say the devices beat conventional solid fuel uranium reactors in all aspects including safety, efficiency, waste and peaceful implications."

The solution is there. Technology developed in the US in the 60's. Just needs to be updated. Fortunately the Chinese (who do and will burn the most coal) are on to it. We can all breath easier.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommentercharlesH

I don't know how to take Lomborg's article - didn't he once propose that we engineered the release of particles into the upper atmosphere to reduce the amount SW coming in ?? Would we need to engineer a huge vacuum cleaner to suck it all out again if temps fell !!!

Perhaps he is just flagging up that getting the whole CAGW show to change direction overnight is not going to be possible, although a Tipping Point at some stage is not out of the question IMHO, and maybe a gentle leaning on the wheel is a better strategy.

The reaction to fracked gas doesn't bode well for the idea of convincing those of the Malthusian bent that real technology, such as thorium nuclear (as others have mentioned) is the way forward.

I still think this article below has it bang on with regard to future energy.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Stuck a custard pie in his face and he still wants to suck up to them.

He loves to be loved

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid


"The reaction to fracked gas doesn't bode well for the idea of convincing those of the Malthusian bent that real technology, such as thorium nuclear (as others have mentioned) is the way forward."

Fortunately, China doesn't have to deal with those of the "Malthusian bent".

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommentercharlesH

We need to take a step back - is there any concrete evidence of Global Warming beyond the natural cycles? Before advocating cures lets first establish if there is a disease to treat. I am all for cleaner energy - CO2 is least concern with coal - what about flyash, heavy metal? Gas to Nuclear (Thorium reactors) seems a possible solution.

Given the volumes of shale gas, shale oil and gas hydrates available in the world I see fossil fuels being around to the end of the century (at least).

Geoengineering? A damgerous path - I suspect its already being applied.

Two books to read to broaden understanding - Super Fuel and Power Hungry. Lets get back to the real world - not politically driven garbage.

Nov 6, 2012 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Moncur

Many Environmental and climate problems have been politically designed to corner in the marked and capitalism.
So the political aim IS to marginalize the marked/capitalism with costs and quotas.

Nov 7, 2012 at 5:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

Why is it that the people who berate us for killing the planet as anacccidental product of how we live are the same people who want to deliberately alter the planet by geoengineering?

Could it be because of the vast sums of money it would earn for those who would do the engineering?

Nov 7, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

On the Geo-engineering threat watch:

Quite frightening - is this contributing to global warming and weather event?

Big business and politics hand in glove?

Nov 7, 2012 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarbella

Nov 7, 2012 at 7:24 PM | Marbella

Are you really that naive?

Nov 7, 2012 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

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