Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (Anglais) Broché – 12 août 2008
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Descriptions du produit
Global warming has been portrayed recently as the greatest crisis in the history of civilization. As of this writing, stories on it occupy the front pages of Time and Newsweek and are featured prominently in countless media around the world. In the face of this level of unmitigated despair, it is perhaps surprising–and will by many be seen as inappropriate–to write a book that is basically optimistic about humanity’s prospects.
That humanity has caused a substantial rise in atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels over the past centuries, thereby contributing to global warming, is beyond debate. What is debatable, however, is whether hysteria and headlong spending on extravagant CO2-cutting programs at an unprecedented price is the only possible response. Such a course is especially debatable in a world where billions of people live in poverty, where millions die of curable diseases, and where these lives could be saved, societies strengthened, and environments improved at a fraction of the cost.
Global warming is a complex subject. No one–not Al Gore, not the world’s leading scientists, and most of all not myself–claims to have all the knowledge and all the solutions. But we have to act on the best available data from both the natural and the social sciences. The title of this book has two meanings: the first and obvious one is that we have to set our minds and resources toward the most effective way to tackle long-term global warming. But the second refers to the current nature of the debate. At present, anyone who does not support the most radical solutions to global warming is deemed an outcast and is called irresponsible and is seen as possibly an evil puppet of the oil lobby. It is my contention that this is not the best way to frame a debate on so crucial an issue. I believe most participants in the debate have good and honorable intentions–we all want to work toward a better world. But to do so, we need to cool the rhetoric, allowing us to have a measured discussion about the best ways forward. Being smart about our future is the reason we have done so well in the past. We should not abandon our smarts now.
If we manage to stay cool, we will likely leave the twenty-first century with societies much stronger, without rampant death, suffering, and loss, and with nations much richer, with unimaginable opportunity in a cleaner, healthy environment.
From the Hardcover edition.
Revue de presse
“Far more convincing than An Inconvenient Truth.”
—The Financial Post
“Brimming with useful facts and common sense. . . . [Lomborg's] analysis is smart and refreshing, and it may bridge at least one divide in our too divided culture.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Enlightening, eye-opening, brain-nourishing stuff!”
—Los Angeles Times
“A reasoned addition to the debate about what to do about climate change. . . . Sure to provoke much controversy.”
“Bjorn Lomborg is the best-informed and most humane advocate for environmental change in the world today. . . . [He] and Cool It are our best guides to our shared environmental future.”
“[A] calm, civil, even-handed analysis. [Cool It] is suffused with concern for socially beneficial priorities and for practical steps to do good. . . . It provides some badly needed balance.”
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Meilleurs commentaires des clients
J'ai particulièrement apprécié les prises de position mesurées et argumentées, rares sur un sujet qui a tendance à déchainer les passions.
Un bémol : le style répétitif et un peu lourd qui rend la lecture peu agréable
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
The book was not what I expected. I kind of thought, based on the controversy it had generated, that it would be a global warming denial book espousing the glories of capitalism and a desire to turn North America into the new Sahara. Well it is nothing of the sort. The book, whether you agree with the science or not, never argues that global warming is happening nor even that it results to varying degrees from human produced co2. What is argued is that there has become a political, and even hysterical component that has insinuated itself so in the discussion that it has overwhelmed all other argument. Any attempt at debate is met with howls that those bringing up objections are evil incarnate and should be fired, imprisoned, etc. It is an interesting debate technique, and nice work if you can get it, but I'm not sure it's an accepted debating format.
For all the balance the book brings, it probably won't warm hearts on either side. The need for redistribution of wealth is a recurring theme, and his arguments against Kyoto, etc, are more that they are an inefficient means to accomplish this goal, not that they are idealogically mistaken. Much of his analysis also relies heavily on the projection that the next 100 years will produce great wealth across the board. This strikes me as speculative, but then again what about the whole issue is not?
The book is extremely well documented, footnotes comprising almost as much volume as the treatise itself. And treatise might be the word, much is repeated and reiterated, and it has the feel of a lengthy article that was expanded to meet book-length requirements. It doesn't suffer too badly in spite of this, as the author writes pretty well and so much of the material is so outside media template information that it probably requires several presentations of the same facts.
All in all it struck me as balanced, well written, and very logical. One of his major points, that debate has been stifled unfairly, makes one reluctant to criticise for fear of proving his point, but be that as it may it seems a salient observation. It is a quick read, and I'd certainly recommend it as a work that cuts against the grain.
Because he is sensible in the arguments he makes. Rather than beating the drum of gloom and doom, he looks at the evidence, looks at what we can realistically do, and what it is we can do that will have the most effect. He also pokes holes in the overheated bag-of-wind arguments of the drowning polar bears (more die from hunting), the 20 foot sea rise (it is rising, but no more in the coming century than in the last), and the benefits of Kyoto (basically an attempted $16 trillion tax on the United States that would, after a century, delay global warming by a few years). And he nicely points out that the devastation in New Orleans was NOT because of global warming or because of the hurricane itself, but because of poorly maintained levees and destroyed wetlands that would have provided some protection. He is also right in pointing out that there has been NO increase in the violence of the storms. The critics will point to the vastly increased costs of the storms. But those costs have their roots in the fact that more people are living in these risky areas (partly because of increased wealth and partly because of government subsidies to those experiencing losses in these areas) and are building more costly structures in areas that people mostly avoided in the past.
His emphasis on what we can do that will have the most positive effect for the money spent is terrific. For example, changing the kinds of building materials we use, the amount of concrete and asphalt versus the opening of green space in our cities all make good sense, as does the helping of people in the developing world with micronutrients and controlling malaria. The list of items that experts and politicians recognize as the most pressing issues and the most useful for the money spent (see pages 44 and 162) is most instructive regarding reality versus hype.
Frankly, I think Lomborg calls himself the skeptical environmentalist because it sounds better than the sensible environmentalist. However, he really is sensible and worth listening to whether you end up agreeing with his prescriptions or not.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
In this great short book, Lomborg covers the following fascinating themes. First, the impact of Global Warming is hugely exaggerated. Second, the efficacy of the Kyoto Protocol is close to nil. Third, the Kyoto Protocol is unworkable as the majority of member-countries fail their CO2 reduction targets. Fourth, we can improve our environmental prospects at a fraction of the Kyoto Protocol's cost and with often more than a 1,000 times the effectiveness.
In the first three chapters Lomborg debunks all the wild exaggerations regarding the impact of Global Warming as conveyed by the media. A couple of examples include the supposedly rapid disappearance of the polar bear often pictured on a melting iceberg. Meanwhile, the overall polar bear population is actually growing. Another is the prospective catastrophic sea level rise of 20 to 40 feet as vividly depicted in An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It with maps showing flooded global coastal regions. Meanwhile the IPCC scientists' models suggest only a one foot increase by the end of the century (same as what we experienced over the last century without any disruption). Al Gore scenarios entail the melting of half or all of the ice caps of both Greenland and Antarctica. The reality is that Greenland is loosing ice at a very slow pace and Antarctica is actually gaining mass. Warmer temperatures cause more precipitation and more snow and ice formation in Antarctica that contributes to lower sea levels. Lomborg goes on uncovering a bunch more mythical exaggerations including the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes. None of them is being supported by IPCC data. He also mentions the flawed `hockey stick' graph manufactured by Michael Mann's spurious model that artificially created a spike in simulated temperatures in present time. He indicated how reluctant the IPCC scientific community was to admit the flaw in this hockey stick model. I was not surprised by any of the above. I have studied Global Warming for several years now, and had already learned about these politicized exaggerations in other excellent books including: Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media and Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming.
Lomborg moves on to explaining how ineffective the Kyoto Protocol is. If all countries ratified this agreement and met their CO2 reduction targets, it would only reduce temperature by 0.3 degree Fahrenheit by the end of the century with a negligible impact on sea level and the environment. This estimate is from IPCC scientists. Lomborg adds that the Kyoto Protocol is unworkable. Countries with already modernized economies, growing population and rising living standards can't dramatically cut CO2 emissions. The majority of West European countries, Canada, and New Zealand have routinely failed their respective CO2 emission reduction targets. The EU has seen CO2 emission per capita increase by 4% since 1990. Meanwhile, the U.S. has remained flat.
Since 2002, Lomborg has dedicated his professional life to exploring the best social policies to improve life on Earth given a hypothetical $50 billion a year. In this effort, he co-founded the Copenhagen Consensus that has engaged numerous Nobel Prize winning economists to evaluate the best social policies. This led him to write this book and also edit How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place. After demonstrating that the Kyoto Protocol is ineffective, he also shares how costly it is ($180 billion a year). On table 2 page 162, he benchmarks the Kyoto Protocol's cost and benefits vs the alternatives. The discrepancy between the two is almost ridiculous. Are you concerned about the polar bears? The Kyoto Protocol would save 0.06 polar bears lives per annum. A simple tighter hunting regulation could easily save 49 polar bears a year at little cost. You are concerned about the spreading of malaria? The Kyoto Protocol would result in 70 million infections avoided over this century. Much cheaper alternatives entailing distribution of mosquitoes net would reduce infections by 28 billion over the same time frame. You are concerned about starvation. The Kyoto Protocol would result in just 2 million fewer starving. Low cost agricultural policies would result in 229 million fewer starving. Thus, social policies deliver often 100 to over 1,000 times the result of the Kyoto Protocol (if countries could meet targets) at less than one third the costs ($50 billion vs $180 billion).
Regarding CO2 emission, Lomborg recommends a low carbon tax of $2 per ton (vs Al Gore's $140). He states this tax would reduce emission by 5% which is much more than what the Kyoto Protocol achieves. He also recommends nations to commit 0.05% of GDP in R&D of noncarbon emitting energy technology (about $25 billion a year or 7 times cheaper than Kyoto). He quotes a scientist who states that dramatic CO2 reduction schemes won't succeed until the public has a cost effective convenient access to an alternative. Lomborg should cheer up; Al Gore has become a venture capitalist working on new energy technologies!
The book focuses on four areas: (1) what is the likely impact (both positive and negative) of global warming, (2) what are the costs and benefits of the ways to address global warming (emissions reductions/adaption/do nothing), (3) the importance of having a rational debate about where resources should be spent to better the human condition over the next century and (4) the difficulty of having such a debate when a number of environmental advocates have become overzealous and strident.
Lomborg makes his points but he hurries to cover a lot of ground and the book lacks the detail that made his "skeptical environmentalist" so authoritative. This is one of those unusual cases where a book should have been longer; where the author should have taken more time to explore alternative scenarios (e.g. what's the impact if global warming ends up in the high end of the respected forecasts), more fully describe our responses (e.g. carbon taxes, flood control programs, water retention) and other uses of resources (HIV/AIDS prevenetion, micronutrients, reduced trade barriers). In addition, while Lomborg has been the subject of frequent unfair and vicious written and verbal attacks, sometimes you can feel the impact seep into his writing and it takes away from the calm, rational tone of the book.
All in all, a quick and highly recommended read.