Get Your Priorities Right: A rationalist crusader does the math on global warming

Wall Street Opinion Journal Kimberely A. Strassel July 8, 2006

NEW YORK–Bjorn Lomborg is a political scientist by training, but the charismatic, golden-haired Dane is offering me a history lesson. Two hundred years ago, he explains, sitting forward in his chair in this newspaper’s Manhattan offices, the left was an “incredibly rational movement.” It believed in “encyclopedias,” in hard facts, and in the idea that mastery of these basics would help “make a better society.” Since then, the world’s do-gooders have succumbed to “romanticism; they’ve become more dreamy.” This is a problem in his view, and so this “self-avowed slight lefty” is determined to nudge the whole world back toward “rationalism.”

Well, if not the whole world, at least the people who matter. In Mr. Lomborg’s universe that means the lawmakers and bureaucrats who are charged with solving the world’s most pressing problems–HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, dirty water, trade barriers. This once-obscure Dane has in recent years risen to the status of international celebrity as the chief advocate of getting leaders to realize the world has limited resources to fix its problems, and that it therefore needs to prioritize.

Prioritization, cost-effectiveness, efficiency–these are the ultimate in rational thinking. (It strikes me they are the ultimate in “free markets,” though Mr. Lomborg studiously avoids that term.) They are also nearly unheard-of concepts among the governments, international bodies and aid groups that oversee good works.

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1 thought on “Get Your Priorities Right: A rationalist crusader does the math on global warming”

  1. This isn’t Rationalism but Obscurantism.

    No where in this article, does so-called rationalist, Bjorn Lomborg, even discuss the serious damage that Global warming will cause to our planet. Although, the words, “malaraia” and malnutrition” are thrown in for good measure, there is no attempt to compare the potential impact of global warming to any other workld problem using any sort of scale or methodology. Instead his whole message seems to be “nothing to see here, move along, move along”. It’s a hasty attempt to discredit by inference and innuendo, so as to suppress further copnsideration rather than to engage in serious investigation and examination.

    In fact, scientists who have actually seen Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvienient Truth” are remarkably united in their support for it’s accuracy and conclusions.

    “Scientists OK Gore’s Movie for Accuracy”

    The nation’s top climate scientists are giving “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy.

    The former vice president’s movie — replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets — mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press

    ..But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly; the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

    “Excellent,” said William Schlesinger, dean of the Nicholas School of Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University. “He got all the important material and got it right.”

    Robert Corell, chairman of the worldwide Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group of scientists, read the book and saw Gore give the slideshow presentation that is woven throughout the documentary.

    “I sat there and I’m amazed at how thorough and accurate,” Corell said. “After the presentation I said, `Al, I’m absolutely blown away. There’s a lot of details you could get wrong.’ … I could find no error.”

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