Bjorn Lomborg argues that many of the elaborate and staggeringly expensive actions now being considered to meet the challenges of global warming ultimately will have little impact on the world’s temperature. He suggests that rather than focusing on ineffective solutions that will cost us trillions of dollars over the coming decades, we should be looking for smarter, more cost-effective approaches (such as massively increasing our commitment to green energy R&D) that will allow us to deal not only with climate change but also with other pressing global concerns, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. And he considers why and how this debate has fostered an atmosphere in which dissenters are immediately demonized.
Lomborg, a political scientist and economist with a conservative approach to environmentalism, presents a work that's likely to garner as much acclaim and disdain as his first book, 2001's The Skeptical Environmentalist. This "Guide to Global Warming," while thoroughly referenced and convincingly argued, ignores many climate studies and assumes that climate change will continue at a steady rate (not necessarily the case). From this vantage, Lomborg suggests workable solutions beyond "hysteria and headlong spending," proposing a tax on CO2 "at the economically correct level of about two dollars per ton, or maximally fourteen dollars per ton" and that "all nations should commit themselves to spending 0.05 percent of GDP in R&D of noncarbon-emitting energy technologies." Gross simplification, however, leads to misleading generalizations and questionable arguments, such as Lomborg's claim that a reduction in global cold weather-related deaths that outweighs the rising number of heat-related deaths means global warming is good for humanity. Though he argues passionately, Lomborg's efforts seem more about pushing his opponents' buttons than facing honestly the complexities of global climate change.