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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  January 2003

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE January 2003

Subject:

More on the nailing of Lomborg..

From:

Richard Leigh <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Jan 2003 11:18:14 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (172 lines)

There is so little good news these days, I thought it worth also posting
the NYT and AP on the nailing of Lomborg.  Thanks to Louis for the
Washington Post article - I didn't know that Lomborg was even too much
for one of our favorite bad guys, E.O.Wilson.  I guess just because he
doesn't understand Human Nature doesn't mean he has to be in favor of
environmental destruction.


All the best,
Dick Leigh

***********************************
Environment and Science: Danes Rebuke a 'Skeptic'

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

A branch of the Danish Research Agency has concluded that Prof. Bjorn
Lomborg, an author whose upbeat analysis of environmental trends has
been embraced by conservatives, displayed "scientific dishonesty" in his
popular book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

Professor Lomborg, who has a doctorate in political science and teaches
statistics at the University of Aarhus, has portrayed the book as an
unbiased scientific refutation of dire pronouncements by environmental
groups. But it has been attacked as deeply flawed by many environmental
scientists since its publication in English in 2001 by Cambridge
University Press.

Many experts have said that environmental conditions, in most cases, are
not nearly as good as Professor Lomborg portrays them, but also not
nearly as bad as some environmental groups and scientists have said.

The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty, after a six-month review
following several complaints filed by scientists, issued a 17-page
report yesterday concluding that the book displayed "systematic
one-sidedness."

"Objectively speaking," the committees found, "the publication of the
work under consideration is deemed to fall within the concept of
scientific dishonesty," as defined by Danish rules for scientific
integrity.

But because Dr. Lomborg was not found grossly negligent, he could not be
found formally to have been scientifically dishonest, the report said.

The committee said it found no evidence that Professor Lomborg
deliberately tried to mislead readers, which would have been a graver
issue, and settled on a relatively mild rebuke, concluding, "The
publication is deemed clearly contrary to the standards of good
scientific practice."

The committees, divisions of the Danish Research Agency, are composed of
a variety of scientists and headed by a judge from the Danish High
Court.

In a telephone interview, Professor Lomborg, 38, defended the book and
challenged the committees to come up with specific examples of errors or
bias.

"You can't say I'm scientifically dishonest or in breach of good
scientific conduct unless you point the finger and say this is the
smoking gun," he said. "It's like saying you committed murder but we
won't tell you who you killed. It's impossible for me to defend myself."

He said the committees' conclusion could get him fired from his new
position as director of the Danish Institute for Environmental
Assessment, in which he reviews the effectiveness of government spending
on environmental programs. Government officials, however, told Danish
news organizations that the criticism of the book did not jeopardize
Professor Lomborg's job.

Cambridge University Press has also been criticized by scientists for
publishing the book. Officials at the publishing house declined to
comment on the findings, saying they had not had a chance to read them.

The report did not cite specific examples, but asserted that the book 
although presented in the style of a scientific treatise, with copious
footnotes and diagrams  was actually "a provocative debate-generating
paper."

It extensively cited a long critique of Professor Lomborg's book that
was published in Scientific American last year. Professor Lomborg and
his supporters said that critique was itself biased and written by
scientists who have long portrayed the environment as dangerously
degraded.

The book  a dense review of data on forests, climate change, food
supplies, population growth and other issues  has not been a runaway
best seller but has been widely cited by conservative groups,
commentators and elected officials who oppose strict environmental
regulations.

At the same time, the book posed a sharp challenge to environmental
groups and many scientists who have long spoken of looming ecological
and climatic catastrophes that have yet to materialize.

"The environment is a field where, when people do some light
calculations like Lomborg did, it's easy to argue for a happy-times kind
of conclusion," said Dr. Peter H. Raven, the director of the Missouri
Botanical Garden and president of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science.

But such findings should not be portrayed as science, he said, adding,
"This is a just outcome that ought to bring his credibility to a halt
except for those who desperately want to believe what he says."

***********************************

Danish Science Panel Slams Lomborg Book

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 3:26 a.m. ET

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- A Danish panel of scientists has rebuked an
author who became a hero of conservatives for challenging tenets of the
environmental movement.

In his 2001 book, ``The Skeptical Environmentalist,'' Danish
statistician Bjoern Lomborg said concerns about melting ice caps,
deforestation, acid rain were exaggerated. He claimed that the global
environmental situation was not deteriorating.

The book was translated into a dozen languages and generated criticism
from environmentalists worldwide.

The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty said Tuesday that the
350- page book ``is clearly in violation of the norms for good
scientific behavior.''

The agency reviewed the book after complaints from four scientists,
including ecologist Stuart Pimm of the Center for Environmental Research
and Conservation at Columbia University in New York. He did not
immediately return a call by The Associated Press.

Hans Henrik Brydensholt, the panel's chairman, said Lomborg did not make
``thorough searches for all available sources ... including what goes
against one's supposition.''

``He used sources in favor of his own beliefs,'' he said.

Lomborg acknowledged Tuesday that he may not have always quoted all
available sources, but said the panel failed to provide any examples of
the alleged unfairness, he said.

``I have never tried to hide that I wasn't an environment specialist,''
Lomborg said, adding his book was meant to start a debate on the
environment.

The ruling didn't include any penalty, but opponents of the Liberal-
Conservative government said it was an indicator that Lomborg shouldn't
have been named director of the national Environmental Assessment
Institute, which monitors the use by state agencies of public funds
aimed at cutting pollution.

``Bjoern Lomborg is a provocative environmental debater (and) he should
be allowed to be that,'' said Pernille Blach Hansen of the opposition
Social Democrats. ``The problem is that he and the government have
presented him as something he is not: namely a scientist.''

A former member of Greenpeace, Lomborg has argued that a solution to
pollution is more likely to be found in economic and technological
progress than in the policies advocated by many environmentalist
organizations.
************************************
All the best,
Dick
----------------
Richard W. Leigh, P.E.                  Voice: 212-866-4458
415 Central Park West, 12C              Fax:   253-660-4768
New York  NY  10025                     [log in to unmask]

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