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3.7 out of 5 stars
The Skeptical Environmentalist
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14 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2004
This is a thick book dense with various statistics covering many issues in a contentious way. How can a person decide whether it is worth the effort? Read reviews and you will get conflicting opinions. My method then was to sample the material by opening the book at random and evaluating the quality of what turned up.
What I came across was a discussion of the garbage problem. The preoccupation of the author was to prove that we shouldn't worry about garbage, because in fact there is enough physical space on the planet to hold what we produce. He goes through various statistics and simple calculations to arrive at the conclusion that, for example, every US state could solve its garbage problem for the next century at least, by merely putting aside a square landfill site 2.5 miles long on each side, and 100 feet high. Or, the problem could be solved nationally for that time period by making a single landfill 14-18 miles long on each side, and 100 feet high. The conclusion then is, don't worry, for what the author considers to be a very long time to come (i.e., past his own lifetime, and that of his children, if he has any), we will not run out of physical space to put our garbage.
Since the title of the book is "The Skeptical Environmentalist", I presume the author does consider himself an environmentalist after all. Why then does he waste trees and the reader's time on an entirely pointless argument? No need for any calculations, maps, or graphs: we already know we will never run out of physical space to put our garbage, because there already was room for it in the first place, before it became garbage. The process of making garbage is, in terms of physical space, and leaving aside the details, just one of moving stuff from one place to another. As long as we are not importing junk from other planets or other extra-terrestrial sources, everything began here on Earth and will stay here on Earth. What a pseudo-issue!
What is not a pseudo-issue, and which the author ignores in this chapter, is what else the garbage process entails: making valuable resources, which were once in an accessible form, much less accessible, or even for all practical purposes inaccessible; and also typically, putting them into an extremely unpleasant and inconvenient form. A new landfill 2.5 miles on each side, 100 feet high, in every state? Is the author out of his mind? Has he actually thought about what this entails? Doubtful, judging from the fact that he has explicitly not thought about what will happen after the ego-centric timeframe that he considers has expired. This is the kind of proposal one expects from someone locked in an ivory tower, far removed from the messy details of real life, or even from common sense. It is one thing to slog through statistics about garbage, but before pontificating about the subject, the author would have done well to have spent a little time trying to slog through the real thing.
On this basis I put the book back on the shelf. If you already have bought it and are wondering what to do with it: don't throw it in the garbage- put it into the recycling bin.
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18 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2006
It’s most unfortunate but Prof. Lomberg has since been accused of falsifying his information and manipulated data to fit his argument. Please do check on the net before buying this book.
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19 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2006
This alternative text on global environmental problems would have you believe that the author is the first to publish unbiased, non-dogmatic research on the subject. However, this is actually a tremendous example of precisely that. Selectively choosing and interpreting data to fit the desired conclusion appears to be Prof Lomborg's only methodology.
Why two stars then? Well, I think it would provide a very useful exercise for undergraduate students to read as an example of how not to do science.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2014
It seems the IPCC were wrong. Their climate change models didn't predict hokum. The critics of this UN-Illuminati auxiliary were right.

Except for one tiny detail...

The error was in the wrong direction. Apparently, the pace and impact of climate change is even worse than we expected. The temperatures will rise by 4 degrees until 2100. Even in North Carolina. Or Denmark.

Blasted. Well, nothing we can't blame on the chemtrails, I suppose....
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13 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2002
Lomborg's heavily-promoted new book 'The Skeptical Environmentalist' claims that consumer waste isn't a problem, that species loss is almost imaginary, and that it is far too expensive to do anything about global warming. I can't say this book is useless: this unfortunate, 540-pages long pamphlet will be used by those who doesn't like criticisms as the
"evidence" they were searching for: that ecologists and environmental scientists are conspiring against large companies and "progress". No one can disagree about the fundamental priority raised by poverty (thanks to the author for such an obvious discovery) but the future of humankind is strongly tied to the preservation of our natural resources and ecological diversity. Diversity is getting lost at a very fast pace (for a good overview of how this translates into rainforests, see "Requiem for nature", by John Terborgh) and the worst is that the data that we know clearly confirm this scenario, but the many factors that we ignore might actually worsen the current degradation process. There are many scientists from very different disciplines and points of view that have confirmed the vast ecosystem degradation that our planet is experiencing. There are disagreements about the causes (although human-driven extinction is an obvious one) and potential solutions. Differences of opinion are necessary. No healthy science nor environmental policy would be helpful unless diversity of opinions is present. But it is interesting (and symptomatic) that Lomborg disagrees about *every* point raised by ecologists and environmental scientists in a pretty extreme way. I also find interesting to see that Bjørn Lomborg so far has failed to publish his findings in any relevant international scientific journal with peer review (if his analysis is so detaled and professional, what's the problem?... oh, yes! the conspiracy!)...
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4 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2007
I am all for a balanced debate, of course I am but this book is simply wrong! Influential - arguably, convincing - for a moment, but so, so, biased, as indicated by the title of the book. For example, the book claims that electricity consumption can be compared to having "slaves", which I think reflects Lomborg's thinking. It is very biased indeed and its objective is to advance the "business as usual". Anyone who buys this book should have their car vandalised.
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2 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2005
I've read it shicksteen times over like, and it's just unbelieveable, like. I'm a citizen of the people's republic of Cork and you mightn't have known like but I'm like a Sceepiticbval Enveromnentewalisht myself, like.
I can really relate to the topic in question, like. The siqolodgucal expeditions it takes on, d'know like, like. All credit to the author, he really wrote an incredible novel of
epic proportions. I loved the part when the author reminishted about the sruggle to keep the environment at it's besht. Roy Keane wouldn't get a look in. Even though it took me three years to finish it, I enjoyed every word written on mashterpiece of a book.
And I always felt that if Joyce, Keats and Lawrence were sitting in a room together and Dostoevsky came in, there would be a hell of fight for the lasht piece of puddin!
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