Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming

Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming

by Bjorn Lomborg

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307267795
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/11/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 440,582
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Bjorn Lomborg is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and USA Today. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2004. In 2008 he was named “one of the 50 people who could save the planet” by The Guardian; one of the top 100 public intellectuals by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazine; and one of the world’s 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire. He is presently an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, and in 2004 he started the Copenhagen Consensus, a conference of top economists who come together to prioritize the best solutions for the world’s greatest challenges.
Visit the author's website at

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Read an Excerpt

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.

Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Foreword     xi
Polar Bears: Today's Canaries in the Coal Mine?     3
It's Getting Hotter: The Short Story     10
Global Warming: Our Many Worries     53
The Politics of Global Warming     113
Conclusion: Making Our Top Priorities Cool     149
Acknowledgments     165
Notes     167
Literature     202
Index     244

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Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (Movie Tie-in Edition) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bjørn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, has written another well-researched book. As he writes, ¿Global warming is happening, the consequences are important and mostly negative.¿ He notes that the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change has predicted rises of 1.50C by 2050 and 2.50C by 2100, which will raise sea levels and increase malaria, starvation and poverty. But, Lomborg argues, it does not follow that directly combating climate change through cutting CO2 will do most to maximise human welfare. Preventing disease, providing clean drinking water and feeding people could do more good more cheaply. What are the options? We could, for example, spend $3 billion a year on mosquito eradication, medicine and mosquito nets: this would halve malaria incidence (2 billion infections and one million deaths every year) by 2015. We could spend $4 billion a year on helping three billion people to access clean water and sanitation. Or, by contrast, we could do what the EU tells us and spend $84 trillion to cut CO2 emissions to 20% below 1990 levels, to ensure that the temperature rises by no more than 20C above pre-industrial times. Yet this hugely expensive effort would have only a tiny effect: it would be 2.480C hotter than now by 2100 instead of by 2098. And a 2.5% rise is only what the IPCC predicted would happen anyway! As a 2007 peer-reviewed study in the journal Energy Policy concluded, ¿the 20C target of the EU seems unfounded.¿ Lomborg shows that the consequences of global warming will not be as bad as they have been painted. For example, the IPCC predicted that sea-levels would rise by 29 cm by 2100 (the same as the rise since 1860), as against the 20 feet that Al Gore publicises. We could cope with this by better use of floodplains, more wetlands, stricter building policies and fewer floodplain subsidies. Lomborg shows that global warming does not cause extreme weather events, which are anyway not curable by cutting CO2. The IPCC said of the Hollywood/Pentagon/Al Gore picture of a new ice age triggered by a shutdown of the Gulf Stream, ¿we can confidently exclude this scenario.¿ Fossil fuels have grown the industries that produce the goods we need and give us low-cost light, heat, food, travel and trade. As Lomborg writes, ¿a world without fossil fuels ¿ is a lot like a world gone medieval.¿ So he argues that we need to spend far more on researching renewable energy and energy efficiency. Directly cutting CO2 would be hugely expensive. Lomborg argues that we should do what is both cheaper and more effective - cope with the consequences of global warming rather than try to stop it at source. If he is right, we would maximise human welfare not by rolling back our civilisation¿s industrial advance, but by using our industrial ingenuity and know-how to prevent disease, provide people with food and water, and develop energy resources.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this title I thought 'Oh man, another book about global warming.' But then, I saw it was by Bjorn Lomborg and started to read the back cover. This book has to be the most refreshing work on global warming I have read in a long while. The author does not deny that global warming exists, and that we are a factor in its rise. Instead he argues that perhaps there are other things we should be more concerned about. The author also suggests that there are different aspects to the global warming debate that are left out, whether on purpose, or due to poor science. Above all, the book offers rational and constructive advice for all people to consider. If you only read one book about Global Warming make it this one. (As trite as that sounds)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bjorn Lomborg does a great job of describing the global warming 'catastrophe'. He does not just jump all in to a conclusion but thinks about this decision a bit. He does admit that global warming is a problem, but right now we don't have the technology or knowledge to solve this global problem efficiently. It makes more sense to solve the pressing issues of today's world and concentrate more on finding a better solution rather than solving global warming with the ineffective plan we have now. Lomborg really makes some good comparisons, but he does not write this book strictly focused on his opinion. He provides facts to support his ideas, and he shows both sides of the debate.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The great thing about this book is that it looks at the environment and the problems surrounding it with a level-headed and democratic mindset. Everything you read about global warming in the media today leads you to believe that the world is heading toward extinction. It was nice to read something that did not try to scare me into supporting an agenda. Aside from obvious grammer problems, 'Jesse Jenkins, a energy and climate change blogger' (the reviewer below) seemed to have a strong pre-determined view of the environment and likes to spit out stats that don't mean much to people to try and get an agenda across. That is exactly what this book is talking about. Lomborg realizes that global warming IS something that needs to given attention, but it should be looked at with a level-head and a composed mindset. He points out that scare tactics and hysteria do not lead to good debate and it causes us to waste money where it could be put to better use.
pizzadj on LibraryThing 27 days ago
this was quite possibly the best environmental/climate change book i've read.
whiteberg on LibraryThing 27 days ago
Excellent read and well-developed argument.
PastorBob on LibraryThing 27 days ago
One of the most important popular level books in print. Should be mandatory reading in high schools everywhere. Stop everything, and go read this. Immediately. No really, sign out now, get this book, go read it and then help stop governments around the world from making some of the worst and most stupid mistakes ever known in human history.
argyriou on LibraryThing 27 days ago
Lomborg looks at global warming and the proposed solutions with the unflinching eye of an economist, and discovers that most of the hype and hysteria is unjustifiable, and that most of the political solutions offered will make things worse for future generations.Lomborg is not a "climate change denier" - he fully accepts the IPCC consensus that global warming exists and is significantly caused by human activity. But that's where he parts company from most people who discuss global warming in public. Early in the book, he shows that warming is not always bad - warming in big cities has noticeably reduced death rates, for example, and polar bear populations are increasing in those areas of the Arctic which are warming. He then recounts what the actual consensus science of the impacts of warming, which excludes most of the apocalyptic visions peddled by the fearmongers. After establishing the actual effects of global warming, he starts to examine the costs and benefits of proposed solutions, and finds most of them, particularly Kyoto, wanting.This is probably the most important book written regarding the political debate over coping with global warming.
wbc3 on LibraryThing 27 days ago
Lomborg examines what we should do about global warming rather than whether it is happening. He concedes that global warming is happening and it is largely caused by humans. He then takes the models of others and looks at how we should cooly react. He uses examples such as the famed polar bear. According to the models, global warming is killing 1 polar bear a year while hunting kills 800. So, if we want to save polar bears it would be far more cost effective to ban hunting. Another example is deaths due to warming. He shows that actually there are more deaths due to cold weather, so warming may actually save lives. I am skeptical of much of what he says, but the idea of approaching the problem of global warming logically rather than in a panic is dead on. Read the book if you want your preconceived ideas to be challenged.
PaulFAustin on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Lomborg continues the path he's traveled with "Skeptical Environmentalist" and "Global Crises, Global Solutions", using economic analysis of alternative ills and cures which must be chosen between. In "Cool It", Lomborg shows that the canonical cure for climate change (CO2 reduction) has a terrible cost/benefit ratio and more, only promises to benefit (a little) in the far future, condemning the people of the near future to not only pay the money costs but pay real life and death costs of the radical reordering of the world's economy.
masoninman on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Lomborg's refrain in Cool It is that the Kyoto process is too expensive and delivers little benefit, but never backs up the claim about how expensive it is. Also, he mentions George Monbiot's book Heat, which explores how we might be able to cut carbon emissions by 90% within a few decades without changing our lifestyles much. This would seem to go against the claim that anything requiring big cuts in CO2 emissions would cost vast amounts, but Lomborg seriously considers any of the proposals in Monbiot's book.These are just a couple of the examples of the major failings of this book. It's extensively cited, so you can see where he got his information and ideas, and his analysis seems to rely almost completely on the work of two economists, William Nordhaus and Richard Tol. This makes me skeptical about how many economists would agree with the arguments in the book.If I was rating it on how good of a portrayal it gives of the issue of climate change, I'd give it one star. I give it two stars, though, because it's readable and is a good example of an argument against much action on global warming. He's not a climate change denier¿although he seems to have some sympathy with that camp¿but he argues that development is a better way to help other people and the environment. But I wouldn't trust much that he says in this book unless you've checked it against other information.In the UK, he's publishing a version that's about 50% longer that's supposed to have "plenty of graphs and more explanation," according to the US edition. But I don't have much hope that he's made a stronger case there.
pbirch01 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Lomborg's book bills itself as a critique of the present climate change hysteria and aims to provide balance in the argument about climate change. Unfortunately, this seems to be all that occurs in the book - critiquing the hysteria. The book is listed at 272 pages but 108 of those are references and notes. Those remaining 164 pages are dedicated to providing facts and examples that counter opinions such as Al gore while acknowledging that there is indeed a problem. Lomborg frequently mentions how much better off people in developing countries will be in 50 years and implies that they will be better prepared to deal with the results of climate change. The focus on economic benefits is a welcome relief from the usual rhetoric and Lomborg can provide much stronger examples based on economic fact and theory. Many of the points are interesting, but the lack of citations in the text makes turning to the back of the book a real pain. At only 164 pages and barely bigger than a pocket-sized paperback, this simple book is quite quick to read and will hopefully shed more light on this situation to the general public.
ShadMan More than 1 year ago
A refreshing perspective on ehat is actualy emportant
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