Cool It

The global policy of cutting C02 emissions as THE worldwide priority will be both the costliest and the most ineffectual environmental improvement in the 21st century. Cool It is an eye-opening, concise (160pp), and compelling argument for alternative, more important, and much more efficient environmental improvement uses of a fraction of the trillions of proposed spending dollars that cutting emissions will cost.Bjorn Lomborg argues very passionately and logically for steps to be taken in a more appropriate direction. From his book's opening chapter, he writes:
    The argument in this book is simple:
  1. Global warming is real and man-made.
  2. Statements about strong, ominous, and immediate consequences of global warming are often wildly exaggerated, and this is unlikely to result in good policy.
  3. We need simpler, smarter, and more efficient solutions for global warming rather than excessive if well-intentioned efforts. Large and very expensive CO2 cuts made now will have only a rather samll and insignificant impact far in to the future.
  4. Many other issues are much more important than global warming. We need to get our perspective back. There are many more pressing problems int he world, such as hunger, poverty, and disease. By addressing them, we can help more people, at lower cost, with a much higher chance of success than by pursuing drastic climate policies at a cost of trillions of dollars.
What follows is a easy-to-understand deconstruction of the real costs of reducing emissions, and their predicted impacts contrasted with a list of other real world issues that can be dealt with for only a portion of that payload. I've admittedly always been skeptical of global warming and people who are alarmist, mostly because I don't accept factoids and I know how to spot false logic -- years of dealing with religious zealotry has trained me well. However, this doesn't exclude the media's complicit portrayal of the phenomenon; I know everyone is trying to make a buck and make news "entertaining", but watch the world news each night and marvel at the number of times a hugely negative word such as "disaster" or "catastrophe" are used. It's comical.

Coincidentally, in the book, Lomborg predicts (based on other historical causes of hyperbole) that this fad will ultimately grow tiresome for the people and wear itself out. Last week on NPR (yes, NPR!), they did a story about environmentalists at a conference who were despondent about getting funds from banks to do their own causes; real-world problems such as the financial crisis has been naturally putting the global "catastrophe" funding on hold.

As excellent as the book is, Lomborg cannot claim the best sound-bite. That goes to a quote from Mark Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research:
    "Framing climate change as an issue which evokes fear and personal stress becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. By "sexing it up" we exacerbate, through psychological amplifiers, the very risks we are trying to ward off.

    The careless (or conspiratorial?) translation of concern about Saddam Hussein's putative military threat into the case for WMD has had major geopolitical repercussions."
On a sad note, although I have for many years been a fan of The American President, I'm finding that movie's political agenda (e.g., "we must reduce emissions by 20%!") increasingly out-of-date and thoroughly unconvincing and thinly-veiled (if at all) propaganda. At least Michael Douglas is good in it.

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