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E-M:/ Skeptical Environmentalist

Enviro-Mich message from "Megan Owens" <meo@umich.edu>

Many of you may have heard about a recent book, "The Skeptical
Environmentalist" by Bjorn Lomborg, a scathing critique of the environmental
movement, claiming exaggeration and lies.  Today, the Grist magazine
reviewed it, with the assistance of some of the nation's top scientific
leaders.  You can read the review at:

I've pasted some excerpts below.
		Megan Owens

Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark
A skeptical look at The Skeptical Environmentalist

Lomborg claims that (deforestation, climate change, POPs, etc.) are
"phantom problems" created or inflated by the environmental movement
for its own ends, with the result that time and money are diverted
from other, needier causes.

That is a serious charge, and as such it must be taken seriously. To
date, the mainstream media have done just that -- but they have also
taken the book at face value, with little or no critical analysis. A
Washington Post reviewer raved about its "magnificent achievement";
the New York Times, the Economist, and others were equally gushing.

Grist wondered how the book would hold up under more rigorous
scrutiny, and asked respected scientists and leaders in their fields
to address the allegations in The Skeptical Environmentalist. By
bringing a healthy dose of skepticism to Lomborg's own claims, the
resulting compilation fights fire with fire.

Biologist E.O. Wilson -- two-time Pulitzer prize winner, discoverer
of hundreds of new species, and one of the world's greatest living
scientists -- debunks Lomborg's analysis of extinction rates.

Stephen H. Schneider, one of the foremost climate scientists in the
United States, discredits Lomborg on global climate change and takes
Cambridge University Press and the media to task for publishing and
praising a polemic.

Species diversity
Norman Myers, an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Oxford University, a
member of the U.S. National Academy of the Sciences, and a recipient
of several of the world's most prestigious environmental awards,
looks at Lomborg on biodiversity and concludes that he lacks even "a
preliminary understanding of the science in question."

Lester R. Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth
Policy Institute, reviews Lomborg on population and concludes that
his analysis is so "fundamentally flawed" that other professionals
would do well to disassociate themselves from his work.

Emily Matthews, a forest expert and senior associate with the World
Resources Institute, shows that Lomborg reaches wildly inaccurate
conclusions about deforestation by fudging data or failing to
interpret it correctly.

Al Hammond, senior scientist at World Resources Institute, criticizes
Lomborg for mischaracterizing the contemporary environmental movement
and committing precisely the sins for which he attacks
environmentalists: exaggeration, sweeping generalizations, the
presentation of false choices, selective use of data, and outright
errors of fact.

Human health
Devra Davis, a leading epidemiologist and environmental health
researcher, acknowledges that environmentalists have made some errors
but argues that Lomborg, too, is seriously mistaken about how the
environment affects public health.

Energy expert David Nemtzow, president of the Alliance to Save
Energy, says Lomborg wastes his time battling a strawman: Virtually
no one in the contemporary environmental movement disputes that
fossil fuels are abundant, Nemtzow argues; in fact, it's precisely
their abundance and their impact on our ecosystems that's the trouble.

So what?
In a review of the politics that underlie The Skeptical
Environmentalist, Grist Assistant Editor Kathryn Schulz argues that
Lomborg's real goal is to divide the left and discredit the
environmental movement.

Scientists, pundits, policy makers, and everyday folk extol and
excoriate The Skeptical Environmentalist, elsewhere on the web.

               Megan Owens
Field Director               734-662-6597
PIRGIM                    MOwens@pirg.org

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