Science reviewer calls anti-environmental book 'dangerous' and 'misguided'

"Don't worry, be happy about the environment"--a central theme of the popular book, The Skeptical Environmentalist--is "dangerous" and "misguided," U.K.-based policy expert Michael Grubb contends in the 9 November issue of Science.

Author Bjrn Lomborg's argument that "we should not worry much about the state of the world" is "woefully inadequate," according to Grubb, of London's Environmental Policy and Management Group and the Cambridge University.

The breadth of Lomborg's 539-page book, including 25 chapters and nearly 3,000 endnotes, "is certainly impressive," and he offers "compelling" arguments to support his theory that the environment is improving, Grubb writes: "He establishes a convincing case that, in general, humanity is better off today than it has ever been in terms of standard welfare measures and of many enironmental indicators."

But, Grubb says, Lomborg's book gives little recognition to modern environmental professionals and authoritative assessments by the European Union, for example, and instead focuses on a "barely a dozen veterans of the environmental movement." In some cases, Grubb notes, the primary work of those individuals was completed decades ago.

Most importantly, Grubb says, Lomborg fails to make the connection between new policies and environmental advances. Major improvements in London's air quality, for instance, were directly driven by the 1956 Clean Air Act, which banned raw coal combustion across large portions of London, and by various domestic and European legislation governing vehicle exhausts, Grubb notes. "This dramatic impact evident from 1957 onwards is obvious in Lomborg's own graph," Grubb asserts. "His denial of the fundamental cause [of London's environmental improvement] is, at best, inexcusable ignorance."

Lomborg argues that pessimistic environmental reporting kindles public anxiety, which "as seen from a democratic viewpoint, skews the unbiased choice of the elec

Contact: Lisa Onaga
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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