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The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World

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9780521010689: The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World
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The Skeptical Environmentalist challenges widely held beliefs that the environmental situation is getting worse and worse. The author, himself a former member of Greenpeace, is critical of the way in which many environmental organisations make selective and misleading use of the scientific evidence. Using the best available statistical information from internationally recognised research institutes, Bjørn Lomborg systematically examines a range of major environmental problems that feature prominently in headline news across the world. His arguments are presented in non-technical, accessible language and are carefully backed up by over 2500 footnotes allowing readers to check sources for themselves. Concluding that there are more reasons for optimism than pessimism, Bjørn Lomborg stresses the need for clear-headed prioritisation of resources to tackle real, not imagined problems. The Skeptical Environmentalist offers readers a non-partisan stocktaking exercise that serves as a useful corrective to the more alarmist accounts favoured by campaign groups and the media.

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According to The Skeptical Environmentalist the hole in the Ozone Layer is healing. The Amazon has shrunk by only 14 per cent since the arrival of Man. Only 0.7 per cent of species will be driven to extinction over the next 50 years. Even the poorest humans are getting richer by the year. Things are not good enough; but they are far, far better than we have been taught to believe. Lomborg, a professor of statistics and a former Greenpeace member, reveals the complexity, confusion, and (rarely) misuse of data behind the current Litany of approaching environmental Armageddon. But this is not a comforting or reassuring read. Nor is it a bible for lackeys and do-nothings. Lomborg uses the same figures everyone else uses, from national governments to the Kyoto summit to Greenpeace. Rarely have the raw data been discussed in such detail: their history, how they are calculated, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Lomborg argues persuasively that our sense of approaching human and environmental disaster is an artefact of the valid work of modern scientific, environmental and media institutions. There is, he asserts, no one to blame for our growing sense of despair, but everything to learn. We must learn what real risks are, and what we can do about them. (Kyoto? A very bad idea...) We must prioritise. (30p on the organic basil? Or 30p to buy a child clean water in Sierra Leone?) There is, after all, room for manoeuvre; panic achieves nothing. This is our generation's Silent Spring: a book to rewrite the environmental agenda, and a must-buy for any parent who wonders what kind of world we are leaving for our children.--Simon Ings

Review:

'This is one of the most valuable books on public policy - not merely on environmental policy - to have been written for the intelligent reader in the past ten years ... The Skeptical Environmentalist is a triumph.' The Economist

'... a superbly documented and readable book.' Wall Street Journal

'The Skeptical Environmentalist should be read by every environmentalist, so that the appalling errors of fact the environmental movement has made in the past are not repeated. A brilliant and powerful book.' Matt Ridley, author of Genome

'The Skeptical Environmentalist is perhaps the most important book about the environment since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) awakened the world to the dangers of unrestrained economic growth.' Jason Cowley, New Statesman

'Bjorn Lomborg is an outstanding representative of the 'new breed' of political scientists - mathematically-skilled and computer-adept. In this book he shows himself also to be a hard-headed, empirically-oriented analyst. Surveying a vast amount of data and taking account of a wide range of more and less informed opinion about environmental threats facing the planet, he comes to a balanced assessment of which ones are real and which over-hyped. In vigorous informal style, he indicates what needs to be done to address the real environmental hazards - and what needs not to be done about those turning out to be pseudo-problems.' Jack Hirshleifer, University of California, Los Angeles

'A new book is about to overturn our most basic assumptions about the world's environment. Far from going to hell in a handcart, it is improving by almost all measures. Those things not getting better are getting worse at a slower rate.' Anthony Browne, Observer

'Lomborg's challenge will have to be met ... he has given an important challenge to the scientific establishment that is not only good for science, but damned necessary to it.' Fortean Times

'When Lomborg concludes that '... the loss of the world's rainforests, of fertile agricultural land, the ozone layer and of the climate balance are terrible ...' I agree. But we also need debate, and this book provides us with that in generous amounts. If you, like I do, belong to the people who dare to think the world is making some progress, but always with mistakes to be corrected, this book makes important reading.' Lars Kristoferson, Secretary General, WWF Sweden

'Lomborg's book has drawn considerable attention. Although it may cause problems for the more militant and political environmentalists, it should be welcomed by anyone genuinely concerned about the environment. ... Lomborg's book sheds needed light on the real state of the world. I recommend it to anyone interested in our global environment ... The Skeptical Environmentalist is the most valuable book available in many years on public policy in general, not only environmental policy in particular. It should be required reading for all legislators, government bureaucrats and corporate executives who preside over the ever-increasing array of environmental regulations and politics. John P. Bluemle, Geotimes

'Whatever your standpoint, The Skeptical Environmentalist will make indispensable reading.' Mail on Sunday

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9780521804479: The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World

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