This Book Review on “The Skeptical Environmentalist” points out the major facts argued by the author Bjorn Lomborg in the book which he titled “The Skeptical Environmentalist” with the subtitle “the real state of the world”. This book review is actually a kind of summary of the book. It highlights some of the arguments and claims made by the author. Effort was also made in this book review to point out some of the criticisms made to challenge the book.
The skeptical Environmentalist was foremost published in Danish in 1998. The Cambridge University Press in 2001 published the English Edition of it as a work in environmental economics. It is a controversial book authored by Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish environmentalist. The book disputes that analysis of the relevant data does not support the claims on definite phases of global warming, overpopulation, deforestation, declining energy resources, water shortage, species loss, and a range of further global environmental issues.
The Skeptical Environmentalist hardly match an actual scientific discipline or line of track owing to the extent of the project which encompass the range of topics that were focused, the variety of data and sources utilized and the several kinds of conclusions and remarks advanced. The discipline and conclusions were largely confronted on the ground of natural science not putting to mind the fact that the book was published by the social science division of Cambridge University Press.
The spotlight of some of the critics was on his lack of proficient know-how in environmental sciences or economics. Supporters pointed out that his research was a suitable use of his proficiency in cost-benefit analysis which is a standard analytical device in policy evaluation. They also argued that several of the scientists and environmentalists who criticized the book were not specialists on environmental policies or cost benefit analysis.
The Skeptical Environmentalist looked at an extensive collection of subjects in the broad area of environmental studies, as well as environmental economics and science and arrived at a uniformly comprehensive lay down of conclusions as well as suggestions. These suggestions in several cases could be referred to as policy recommendations. The conclusions arrived at by the environmentalist straightforwardly confront renowned instances of severe environmentalist concerns by bringing together and interpreting data from a outsized number of sources and suggested that environmentalists cause resources to be diverted to environmental issues when those resources if viewed from an economic point of view, could be preferably spent elsewhere. It also cited 3,000 individual references from primary and secondary material.
A large degree of methodology and integrity have been subject to criticism stating that Lomborg has distorted the various fields of research he covers. Nevertheless, the book had a large degree of support.
The book is set in the order of four main themes. They are;
- Human prosperity from an economic and demographic point of view.
- Human prosperity from an ecological point of view.
- Pollution as threat to human prosperity
- Future threats to human prosperity.
The major dispute of the book is that enormous majority of environmental problems such as water shortages, pollution, deforestation and species loss as well as population growth, AIDS, hunger, are area-specific and extremely interrelated with poverty.
However, Lomborg analyzed three main topics. His analysis where much more focused on; life expectancy, “food and Hunger” and prosperity. He discovered that life expectancy as well as health height, have radically improved over the past centuries although many province of the world remain endangered by AIDS to be precise.
Thomas Malthus’s theory that the increase in the population of the world will result to extensive hunger was dismissed in the book by Lomborg and on the contrary, he showed that food is extensive and the daily ingestion of Calories of the world is rising progressively. He also argued that technological step ups in agriculture should aid mankind to do away with hunger. Lomborg however pointed out that Africa in particular still produce too little food. This effect according to him is owned to the continent’s depressing economic and political systems. In terms of prosperity, he points out that wealth, as measured by per capita GDP, should not be the only criterion to judge prosperity. He also talked about step ups in safety, Education, Leisure and ever more prevalent access to consumer goods as a mark that prosperity is boosting in most parts of the world.
In another segment of the book, Lomborg looks at the world’s natural resources and draws a conclusion which is contradictory to “Limit to Growth” which was published in 1972. At first he analyzed food once again but from an ecological point of view this time. Once more he maintained that most food products are not threatened by prosperity of humans. However, the exemption is fish which continues to be depleted. He presents fish farms which suggest a less disruptive impact on the world’s oceans.
In yet another segment of the book, Lomborg suggests his major recommendation and evaluation that under cost benefit analysis, the environmental threats to human prosperity are over slated and much of policy response is misguided. He cites our qualms as regards pesticides and their connection to cancer as an instance. He disputes that such concerns are immensely overstated in the public reception, as alcohol and coffee are the foods that create to a great extent the utmost risk of cancer, as opposed to vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides. In addition, if pesticides were not used on fruit and vegetables their cost would go up and as a result their consumption would go down, which would cause cancer rates to amplify. He went on to criticize the fear of a vertiginous turn down in biodiversity, proposing a number of 0.7 per cent of species extinct in 50 years. This is as compared to a maximum of 50 per cent as claimed by some biologists. While this is still a predicament, as Lomborg notes, it is not the disaster claimed by some because it still has little consequence on human prosperity.
He concludes his book by once again reviewing the Litany and observing that the actual state of the world is much better than the Litany claims. This according to him creates a problem since its main attention is on public attention on relatively unimportant issues while paying no attention to the important ones.