Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Skeptical Environmentalist

The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the WorldBy Bjorn Lomborg

This book aims to measure the 'real state' of the world from an environmental viewpoint, and placing humans at the center stage. Its scope is broader than energy, but a large portion is devoted to energy resources and climate change. Its approach is to look at long-term trends, with the conclusion, not without controversy, that the world has never been in better shape, though there remain problems with global warming, the ozone layer, loss of rainforests, ...


Irrespective of the ideas it contains, one of the books major contributions is its wealth of data, which are all documented to their original source, and therefore easily verifiable. Just for this reason, the book would merit regular upgrades.

In its first chapter 'the litany', the author warns against the very selective use of data in the environmental movement to construct a cause on environmental hazards. Probably because of its militant tone, many have reacted, often playing the man, not the ball.

The merit of the Skeptical Environmentalist is that news on the environment does not need to be necessarily bad. Ever more people are leading longer and healthier lives, are better nourished, receive better education, a higher standard of living and more leisure time, 'without the global environment being destroyed.'

The debate is open when environmental activists are becoming rebels without a cause, and it's a worthwhile debate to have.

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