After we submitted questions about Lomborg’s claims to the team, we received comprehensive answers from three top climate scientists within 48 hours, even though we made our inquiries before the official launch.
In separate e-mail interviews (the scientists also offered to conduct phone interviews), the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology’s Ken Caldeira, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Josh Willis, and Rutgers University’s Alan Robock independently confirmed that Bjorn Lomborg had misrepresented the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report.
Bjorn Lomborgs interpretation of sea level rise science got a thumbs down.
In particular, all three scientists debunked Lomborg’s assertion that “the best research we have – from the United Nations climate panel – says that global sea levels are not likely to rise more than about 20 inches by 2100” saying instead that the 2007 report from the UN’s Internation Panel on Climate Change
only considered sea level rise due to thermal expansion (water, like air, expands as it gets warmer)
“was very clear that the 20 inch projection was probably too low because it did not account for the kinds of dynamic changes in the glaciers and ice sheets that we see today. In fact, the IPCC report was careful to say that they could not place any upper bound on the amount of sea level rise that is likely over the next century.”
represented the best science we had five years ago, not the best available today … “including better observations of the rate of melting from Greenland and Antarctica and better models.” (see Justin Gillis’ NY Times piece for more on that)
Self-named “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg’s new movie Cool It debuted on Friday night. Andy Revkin calls Lomborg to the carpet, pushing him to defend (or at least explain) his stance on sea level rise, research funding, energy efficiency, climate engineering, and Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. He’s also opened the field for your questions. Lomborg has agreed to answer five reader-posed questions, which Revkin send him on Tuesday. So speak up!
In “Cool It,” Lomborg breezily ticks down a laundry list of high-tech ways to engineer the atmosphere, for example, but punts on the tougher questions related to such planet-scale enterprises — such as the inevitable diplomatic dispute over who sets the planetary thermostat and how blocking the sun does nothing to stem the buildup of carbon dioxide, much of which will stay in the atmosphere for many centuries.
He proposes spending tens of billions of dollars (a bargain, he insists, compared to the hundreds of billions that would be spent on a cap-and-trade style approach), but he doesn’t say how he’d convince the United States or China to adopt the necessary carbon tax.
And he doesn’t deal with the full pipeline for innovation that is required to take a promising technology from idea to breakthrough. A greatly intensified research effort is a vital, but insufficient, facet of any plan to foster progress without disrupting the climate.
Its chiding tone in places is unlikely to build the sense of consensus and excitement around an energy quest that Lomborg seems to desire.
Revkin proposes (and includes) a few alternatives he considers more substantive.
Self-proclaimed “Skeptical Environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg has created a film – Cool It – that he calls the solution to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. It aired at the Toronto International Film Festival and got a thumbs-up review. Joe Romm lambasts it (no surprise there) and TheDailyGreen compares it to creationist propaganda shown to Sunday school children. Reuters avoids talking about the movie and just recaps Lomborg’s views on climate change. You’ll be able to see for yourself on November 12th. In the meantime, check out the trailer here: