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Vol. 12, No. 42 Week of October 21, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

‘Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming’

By Roger Herrera

For Petroleum News

Danish pragmatist Bjørn Lomborg has done it again. His first book, “The Skeptical Environmentalist” infuriated the Green lobby and propelled him to become “one of the world’s 100 most influential people.” His new book, “Cool It” confirms that opinion.

Cool It is a book that should be read by every oil industry employee and every energy CEO. It has the great attributes of being short (160 pages of text, plus 150 pages of notes and references), highly readable and hugely logical.

Once again it will be hated by the Greens and many national governments that have wedded themselves to the Kyoto principles for solving global warming.

It takes on an issue that has become more emotional than scientific, but it does so by accepting much of the dogma associated with global warming without rancor or dispute and then politely re-analyzing the conclusions reached in the Kyoto Protocol to show that they are stupidly expensive and are counterproductive to the best interests of the world’s population.

In essence he concludes that Kyoto, if put into practice, would succeed in reducing the world’s average temperature by 0.3 F toward the end of the century at a cost of more than $5 trillion — hardly a bargain or a solution.

Most importantly Lomborg uses costs and other figures produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as IPCC, which was set up to publish policy-neutral, scientifically peer-reviewed information on climate change for use by decision makers. Unfortunately, IPCC, despite its brief, has taken an extreme position and opts for very deep cuts of CO2. Thus his arguments use his opponents data, not his own.

Courteously shreds Gore’s slide show

Obviously, to make his point, Lomborg, has to rebut Al Gore’s slide show, “An Inconvenient Truth” together with the influential report authored by Sir Nicholas Stern and published by the British Government last year. He gently tears both opinions into shreds, but without an unkind word or emotion. He is deferential in the care he takes not to personalize his analysis, but he shows with certainty and clarity how both authors have exaggerated and emotionalized their conclusions and by so doing have potentially damaged the world rather than helped to save it.

Up front Lomborg accepts man’s influence on the present phase of global warming. There is no discussion in the book to suggest anything but human induced carbon dioxide as the cause of the world temperature increase.

Also, although he is opposed to Kyoto-like solutions, he is a strong supporter of ways to reduce carbon dioxide production. His thesis is that most of the world, excluding the United States, Australia, India and China and most third world countries, are going about it in the wrong way.

He points out that more people die of malaria, an easily eradicable disease, than will ever be baked by temperature increases.

Cold kills more people than heat

He also gives convincing statistics to suggest that world deaths induced by cold weather are far more numerous than those caused by heat, consequently a temperature rise, especially in winter, saves many more lives than it causes.

His bottom line is that the only moral way of approaching CO2 reduction is by comparing its costs against the benefits to all of us. If the cost of slightly reducing CO2 levels exceeds by orders of magnitude the expense of eradicating malaria or the cost of supplying clean water to the third world, Lomborg has no doubt where the money should be spent. It should be used to save the tens of millions of lives that are easily savable.

He reaches this conclusion because of what he shows to be the gross exaggerations of the warming lobby. For example, he argues that Al Gore’s 18 to 20 feet rise in world sea level will actually be a maximum of 12 inches — an amount easily containable by logical policies.

Consequently saving lives does not automatically place them at greater risk from climate change. Lomborg thinks that money wasted in trying to reduce CO2 should be allocated, among other things, to non-carbon emitting energy technologies which, he believes, are now woefully underfunded. The end result would be less money wasted and less carbon dioxide produced. Obviously a win-win.

Escaping poverty crucial

Although he is very careful in expressing his personal opinions, Lomborg believes that restrictions and barriers to free and fair trade between nations cause more harm than global warming ever will. Such restraints prevent most of the world’s poorer people from ever escaping out of poverty. Only economically self-sufficient people have the opportunity of controlling their carbon output and protecting their environment, therefore continued poverty imposed by restraints on trade, compounds global warming.

This book is crammed with interesting details, but despite the heaviness of the issue it is a good read and it is very well written.

The author acknowledges help from friends with the English text, but his writing ability shines through, as does his personality. His approach to such a controversial and important issue is very likeable and fair, and friend or foe of global warming can learn a lot from this book.

The rest of us should read it to understand the politics and options that might cloud the rest of our lives because of global warming.

We should read it to counter the “choreographed screaming” of “Fear, terror and disaster,” being bandied about.

And we should read it to prevent our politicians imposing excessive, counter-productive taxes and constraints that always seem to affect us after the politician has left office.

There is much to fear in global warming, but little of that fear will be induced by temperature rises.

Read this book!

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