Bjorn Lomborg's Deception About 'Climate and Health Assessment' in Wall Street Journal

Bjorn Lomborg's Deception About 'Climate and Health Assessment' in Wall Street Journal
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This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup originally published at Daily Kos.
 
new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Bjorn Lomborg misses the mark, and while it’s not as bad as some of Lomborg’s misleading opinions, there can be no doubt that the deception is intentional.

Lomborg attacks the recently released Climate and Health Assessment, a comprehensive overview of how climate change impacts the American public by the US Global Change Research Program. He attacks the report’s finding that heat-related deaths from rising temperatures will outnumber the avoided cold-related deaths, which has been debated among legitimate scientists (see this piece or this piece).

In the last sentence of the introductory paragraph, Lomborg claims the report, “hypes the bad and skips over the good.” He writes, “It also ignores inconvenient evidence—like the fact that cold kills many more people than heat.” Later, he reiterates his thesis statement, with the sentence, “Not once does this ‘scientific assessment’ acknowledge that cold deaths significantly outweigh heat deaths.”

Which is weird, because page 47 of the chapter on temperature and health states:

A recent analysis of U.S. deaths from temperature extremes based on death records found an average of approximately 1,300 deaths per year from 2006 to 2010 coded as resulting from extreme cold exposures, and 670 deaths per year coded as resulting from exposure to extreme heat.

But let’s give Lomborg the benefit of the doubt—maybe he just skimmed over that particular passage. Reading further, however, it becomes clear that he is deliberately being deceptive about the report’s representation of the cold deaths. In the op-ed, he quotes a sentence from the report which states, “the reduction in premature deaths from cold are expected to be smaller than the increase in deaths from heat in the United States.”

This sentence is on page 51 of the temperature chapter. Unless Lomborg stopped reading right there, he knew he wasn’t being truthful when he claimed the report “ignores inconvenient evidence,” because directly after the sentence Lomborg quotes, the report continues, saying:

While this is true nationally (with the exception of Barreca 2012) it may not hold for all regions within the country. Similarly, international studies have generally projected a net increase in deaths from a warming climate, though in some regions, decreases in cold mortality may outweigh increases in heat mortality.

If that weren’t damning enough, there is more talk of cold in another section Lomborg most certainly read, because he references it. The report says:

In contrast to some previous similar studies, some individual cities show a net reduction in future deaths due to future warming, mainly in locations where the population is already well-adapted to heat but poorly prepared for cold (like Florida). Barreca 2012 also shows net mortality benefits in some counties, though with a different spatial pattern due to humidity effects.

So when it comes to Lomborg’s accusation that the report “ignores inconvenient evidence,” there can be no doubt that Lomborg is the guilty party here.

Bjorn Lomborg's Deception About 'Climate and Health Assessment' in Wall Street Journal

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