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The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World [Kindle Edition]

Bjørn Lomborg
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

According to The Skeptical Environmentalist the hole in the Ozone Layer is healing. The Amazon has shrunk by only 14 per cent since the arrival of Man. Only 0.7 per cent of species will be driven to extinction over the next 50 years. Even the poorest humans are getting richer by the year. Things are not good enough; but they are far, far better than we have been taught to believe. Lomborg, a professor of statistics and a former Greenpeace member, reveals the complexity, confusion, and (rarely) misuse of data behind the current Litany of approaching environmental Armageddon. But this is not a comforting or reassuring read. Nor is it a bible for lackeys and do-nothings. Lomborg uses the same figures everyone else uses, from national governments to the Kyoto summit to Greenpeace. Rarely have the raw data been discussed in such detail: their history, how they are calculated, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Lomborg argues persuasively that our sense of approaching human and environmental disaster is an artefact of the valid work of modern scientific, environmental and media institutions. There is, he asserts, no one to blame for our growing sense of despair, but everything to learn. We must learn what real risks are, and what we can do about them. (Kyoto? A very bad idea...) We must prioritise. (30p on the organic basil? Or 30p to buy a child clean water in Sierra Leone?) There is, after all, room for manoeuvre; panic achieves nothing. This is our generation's Silent Spring: a book to rewrite the environmental agenda, and a must-buy for any parent who wonders what kind of world we are leaving for our children.--Simon Ings


'This is one of the most valuable books on public policy - not merely on environmental policy - to have been written for the intelligent reader in the past ten years … The Skeptical Environmentalist is a triumph.' The Economist

'… a superbly documented and readable book.' Wall Street Journal

'The Skeptical Environmentalist should be read by every environmentalist, so that the appalling errors of fact the environmental movement has made in the past are not repeated. A brilliant and powerful book.' Matt Ridley, author of Genome

'The Skeptical Environmentalist is perhaps the most important book about the environment since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) awakened the world to the dangers of unrestrained economic growth.' Jason Cowley, New Statesman

'Bjorn Lomborg is an outstanding representative of the 'new breed' of political scientists - mathematically-skilled and computer-adept. In this book he shows himself also to be a hard-headed, empirically-oriented analyst. Surveying a vast amount of data and taking account of a wide range of more and less informed opinion about environmental threats facing the planet, he comes to a balanced assessment of which ones are real and which over-hyped. In vigorous informal style, he indicates what needs to be done to address the real environmental hazards - and what needs not to be done about those turning out to be pseudo-problems.' Jack Hirshleifer, University of California, Los Angeles

'A new book is about to overturn our most basic assumptions about the world's environment. Far from going to hell in a handcart, it is improving by almost all measures. Those things not getting better are getting worse at a slower rate.' Anthony Browne, Observer

'Lomborg's challenge will have to be met … he has given an important challenge to the scientific establishment that is not only good for science, but damned necessary to it.' Fortean Times

'When Lomborg concludes that '… the loss of the world's rainforests, of fertile agricultural land, the ozone layer and of the climate balance are terrible …' I agree. But we also need debate, and this book provides us with that in generous amounts. If you, like I do, belong to the people who dare to think the world is making some progress, but always with mistakes to be corrected, this book makes important reading.' Lars Kristoferson, Secretary General, WWF Sweden

'Lomborg's book has drawn considerable attention. Although it may cause problems for the more militant and political environmentalists, it should be welcomed by anyone genuinely concerned about the environment. … Lomborg's book sheds needed light on the real state of the world. I recommend it to anyone interested in our global environment … The Skeptical Environmentalist is the most valuable book available in many years on public policy in general, not only environmental policy in particular. It should be required reading for all legislators, government bureaucrats and corporate executives who preside over the ever-increasing array of environmental regulations and politics. John P. Bluemle, Geotimes

'Whatever your standpoint, The Skeptical Environmentalist will make indispensable reading.' Mail on Sunday

'A brilliant book … All in all, this is a must-have/must read book. Don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself.' Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

'… his book is the Christmas present for a rational future.' The Chemical Engineer

'… it should be welcomed by anyone genuinely concerned about the environment.' Environmental Geology

'The Skeptical Environmentalist marks a critical environmental moment … We can forget those dreary old idols: Paul Ehrlich, Lester Brown with his Worldwatch Institute, Greenpeace and all the others. They have been exiled into the darkness. Eco-optimism can begin to rise over the Earth. After Lomborg, the environmental movement will begin to wither.' National Post

'Bjorn Lomborg's book is hugely beneficial for a debate that has been one-sided.' The Financial Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5926 KB
  • Print Length: 540 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (28 Aug. 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #284,425 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right or wrong, this is a hugely significant book 10 Mar. 2002
By A Customer
Apparently, 83% of people will not make any effort to think critically about a statistic which supports something they already believe*. This is a problem for any debate that revolves around statistics, as any GLOBAL assessment of human impact on the environment must do - nobody can personally visit the entire planet to decide whether the mess humans can make locally is becoming a significant systemic hazard.
Lomberg's thesis is that a lot of what he terms "the Litany" - a view that humans are steadily sending the global environment to hell in a handcart and things will get catastrophically bad some time soon -is based on very shoddy use of the available data. He provides numerous cases of misleading conclusions that have reached the public. He does not claim that all is well, just that an accurate picture of what is going on is needed if we are to make the correct decisions about how much to do to reduce human impact on the globe. And that the current picture is not accurate.
I give this book 5 stars because having read it you will have to think hard about what you believe to be the truth and what kind of evidence would convince you (and why). This critical thought is something easily avoided on an issue where ready-made opinions are handed down by lobbyists of both camps. Personally I find it convincing that many environmentalists are guilty as charged of allowing their own preconceptions of what is happening to influence how they handle the available data. If this book leads to a higher standard of debate, great.
I agree with another reviewer that it is fascinating how the negative reviews of this book seem to concentrate on "Lomberg is a heretic" - a profoundly unscientific (and revealing?) reaction to what you'd suppose is a scientific debate.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those with an Open Mind 16 May 2004
This is an ambitious and controversial book. If you read the reviews, you will notice that they fall largely into two camps: love it or hate it. Some support what Lomborg calls The Litany, the currently accepted (or fashionable, depending on your position) view that the world's environment is in inexorable decline. They reason that the 'experts' cannot all be wrong and, for reasons which I don't have enough psychology to understand fully, some are attracted to the concept that man is a voracious beast that will not rest until he has defiled the Earth totally. Others, will be convinced by the data and the argument, and find the experience enlightening and empowering. The question that was uppermost in my mind is, is the data reliable? For if it is, then Lomborg's arguments are difficult to fault.
When the book was first published (1998 in Danish, 2001 in English). There were many people with a strong vested interest in faulting those arguments. They were given the opportunity in major magazines and scientific journals and, so far as I have been able to track down, failed comprehensively to do so. For example, Scientific American, in an extremely unscientific exercise, let four of Lomborg's strongest critics off the leash in an eleven page review. The arguments that Lomborg uses are not difficult, nor is the data obscure. If he had made major mistakes in any of his many assertions that contradict the orthodoxy, it would have been easy to expose them. But his critics concentrated instead on attacking the man and on nibbling around the edges of the considerable body of data which he had assembled. They found a few minor errors, since put right, and sometimes revealed their own lack of understanding. But they didn't disturb the central arguments.
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86 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The polarization of opinion on this book 29 Dec. 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
No doubt you have noticed the great polarity of opinion on this book -- so far, eight people have given the book five stars, and two have given it one. I suspect that all too often, we rate controversial books like this according to whether they agree with our existing opinions! This applies to myself as much as to anyone else.
I think this is an excellent book, and for me its strength are the meticulously researched references which back up almost every paragraph in the book (the references and the index make up 30% of the pages).
Not being any kind of environmental expert, I find one of the one-star reviewers' comments useful: is it possible that Lomberg is falling into the trap of presenting selective data, which he himself warns against? I do not know the answer to this question, but this book has at least piqued my interest to find out.
Can I make a suggestion to potential one-star reviewers: Your arguments against the book would be much more convincing if you could point out specific, major errors (ie. not typos etc.), with references to primary research. The current one-star reviews are emotional in tone, and not fact-based.
Dr Victor Chua, MB BChir, MRCS
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome dose of reason 12 July 2007
By Annic
The book is well written in a sane, reasonable manner and it makes a lot of sense to someone like me who vividly remembers the 'global cooling' panic of the 70's. I would recommend this book to anyone with an open mind. Green Activist's assertion that I should have my car vandalized for buying this book only proves how unreasonable such people are.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Ahead of his time and scorned as prophets often are.
Published 3 months ago by Jeremy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Best book ever
Published 5 months ago by Viv Sipson
1.0 out of 5 stars The IPCC were wrong
It seems the IPCC were wrong. Their climate change models didn't predict hokum. The critics of this UN-Illuminati auxiliary were right. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ashtar Command
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but a misnomer
Lomborg's book is a fascinating read, and for the most part convincing. However I find it an odd title. Read more
Published on 19 Dec. 2012 by Boglebadger
5.0 out of 5 stars refreshing approach to the problem of our environment
This book is refreshing reading. To start, the title: skepticism is de rigueur in trying to understand scientific problems. Any scientific problem. Read more
Published on 12 Jan. 2012 by Carno Polo
3.0 out of 5 stars An important piece of debate, though the scholarship occasionally...
Lomborg is regularly misrepresented in the media as someone who treats environmental problems in a cavalier fashion, or worse, entirely refuses to recognize their existence. Read more
Published on 5 Jun. 2011 by Alexander Sokol
4.0 out of 5 stars Global warming undone
I bought this book to help me write a Uni assignment on global warming, and I have to say I was very impressed with it. Read more
Published on 17 May 2011 by ljr_9
4.0 out of 5 stars the skeptical environmentalist
A very heavy read, but that is what I expected. This book is full of facts and figures, stats and charts. Ironically, it gave me a more balanced view of the "Big Green Hoax". Read more
Published on 19 Oct. 2010 by stephen
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional and brave analysis of environmental facts...
This is not a philosophical book but a book on scientific analysis and data...

It is the only honest and brave book ever written... Read more
Published on 28 Mar. 2010 by P. BAZIOTOPOULOS
5.0 out of 5 stars skeptical enviromentalist
A book that open,s up the smoke and mirrors that the so-called scientists would like you to believe that the world will end up either flooded or baron dessert. Read more
Published on 12 Jan. 2010 by Mr. Forbes Soutar
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