‘Skeptical environmentalist’ says best fix for global warming is to make everybody wealthy

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A Danish political scientist and author, Bjorn Lomborg says if the rest of the world were as wealthy as New York City they could afford to shore up their coastlines against rising sea levels and buy air conditioners to ward off hotter summer weather.

Lomborg dismissed Kyoto-style treaties to cut greenhouse-gas emissions as “a mistake” because they cost too much and do too little too late. Lomborg runs the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which gathers economists to set priorities in tackling global problems.

Some suggestions have merit. To prevent coastal flooding, he advocated limiting development and expanding wetlands. Planting more greenery and painting roofs and streets white would help cities cope with summer heat. He called for a carbon tax and treaties forcing nations to budget for research into low-carbon energy technologies.

But apart from the sheer implausibility of his central idea, Lomborg overlooked the fact that wealth increases consumption, which in turn raises greenhouse-gas emissions. So while most observers are pushing for less consumption, Lomborg is calling for more.

He also forgot about population growth; the number of people in the world is doubling every 30 years or so – the U.S. alone is forecast to exceed one billion this century and China and India are growing even faster. He should ponder the impact that will have on climate change.

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