Recent books on global warming; Neros at their fiddling

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Author Bill McKibben has penned a review of recent books by Bjørn Lomborg, the Danish statistician and self-proclaimed “skeptical environmentalist, and Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger, who discuss how to persuade Americans to take action on climate change.

McKibben, an environmental activist and frequent writer on global warming, posted the review on Gristmill with permission of the New York Review of Books, where the piece appears October 11, 2007.

As McKibben notes, Lomborg begins his new book, Cool It, by saying the scientific consensus on climate change – that we face a rise in temperature of about five degrees Fahrenheit by century’s end – is correct. But that’s no big deal says Lomborg, who makes his same old argument the world’s economic resources are finite and there are more important things to spend money on than climate change.

In Mckibben’s view, Lomborg’s thesis is riddled with distortions and half-truths that founder in the IPCC report that it is not only feasible to make changes to reduce carbon emissions but also economically possible.

In Breakthrough: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, Nordhaus and Schellenberger ultimately advise against anything imposing limits on economic growth, which unfortunately means burning more fossil fuels and ever escalating greenhouse-gas emissions. In McKibben’s view, the researchers were hamstrung by their voluminous research and unable to see the forest for the trees.

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