Earlier this week, Progressive websites were buzzing with the latest "defection" in the global warming debate: Bjorn Lomborg, the "Skeptical Environmentalist". The Huffington Post was so excited, they ran two different headlines: "Bjorn Lomborg, Former Skeptic, Now Believes In Climate Change" and "Famous Climate Skeptic Changes His Tune." All the excitement was due to an article in The Guardian, the British left-wing newspaper, which claimed that Lomborg had performed a "U-turn" because his new book "Smart Solutions to Climate Change" calls for a carbon-tax to fund government investment in R&D for carbon-free energy.
But ... where is the U-Turn?
Lomborg already said many of those things in his first book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. That's why I had Lomborg on my FBN show back last May, where he said, pretty clearly, that he believes in global warming. Then again, so do I. The question is, how big of a problem is it? Neither Lomborg nor I are persuaded it's an enormous problem, although he did tell me, "We do need to tackle global warming."
What Lomborg has criticized -- and still does -- is the attention given to "mitigation" policies to address global warming -- that is, policies that cap carbon emissions, like Kyoto, or Cap & Trade. "Turns out to be a very poor way to help the world," he said. "It costs a lot of money and it does very little good, even 100 years from now." When he asked economists to submit those policies to a cost-benefit analysis and compare them to other proposals to address global disease and poverty, carbon emission caps routinely rank dead last. (Somehow alternative energy R&D ranks much more favorably, despite the fact that existing efforts at government alternative energy R&D gave us the ethanol boondoggle and little else.)
The bottom line: Bjorn Lomborg has not "defected" from the skeptic camp. The environmentalists just don't pay close attention.