False Alarm – Bjorn LombergI’ve mentioned this book before but it’s time to put it forward as a strong recommendation and tell you why.Lomberg is not a climatologist. he is an economist, but in the contest of this book it doesn’t matter because he accepts the findings of the IPCC as gospel. Not the media spin added to the IPCC, but their actual findings. I disagree, I believe the IPCC exaggerates the warming effect of CO2 by a factor of at least 2 and likely 3, but that does not matter either. If I am right, everything Lomberg asserts is even more right than he claims.
Most of what Lomberg has in this book I have seen before, but never all in one place and coordinated into a rational whole.
First, Lomberg explains the difference between what the IPCC actually says and the political and media hype. The difference is staggering. Science does not need boogeymen, but politics does, and creates them as needed. So, first understand what is actually projected and with what level of confidence.
Next, Lomberg brings historical context to the impact of climate. He explains the ‘expanding bullseye’ which is easiest to understand in the context of beachfront property. 50 years ago, a hurricane coming ashore would most likely cross an uninhabited location, but now we have million dollar homes on almost every foot of beach. The same effect is true in other contexts as well, we simply have fewer places not in use and more stuff to break.
Having dispensed with climate change as an existential threat, our choices must then be guided by the relative costs of our actions. That task is the primary goal of the book, showing the balanced costs of potential policies and inaction, and the alternatives and their costs and benefits.
Balancing costs of alternatives is really the only rational way to guide policy, spending, or losing, $trillions for trivial benefits makes no sense and harms those most vulnerable. And that is the real value of this book, it provides a RATIONAL framework for climate policy decisions.
I don’t like all of Lomberg’s recommendations, but they make sense if the IPCC is right, less so if I am.
But at least there is a rational basis to the choices. And that is what ahs been largely missing from the climate debate, rational choice.
So, read the book. It’s going to take a while, it’s not a book you will read cover-to-cover in one sitting, but read. I would go so far as to say that until you have, you are unqualified to comment on climate policy.