by UnHerd
Tuesday, 2
November 2021
Video
15:06

Bjorn Lomborg: 7 myths about climate change

The Danish academic challenges common misconceptions
by UnHerd


As the COP26 summit meets over the next couple of weeks in Glasgow, we can all expect to be bombarded with disaster scenarios, replete with stories about our species’ imminent demise. Over the last couple of days, we have had Boris Johnson warning that it is “one minute to midnight” and Prince Charles claiming that this is “literally our last chance saloon”. And of course, Greta Thunberg has already made a few appearances of her own, accusing politicians of “pretending to take our future seriously” and saying that COP26 will “lead us nowhere”.

Bjorn Lomborg takes a different view. His latest book, ‘False Alarm: how climate change panic costs us trillions, hurts the poor, and fails to fix the planet’ sets out his argument that, although climate change is a real problem and is mostly man-made, the panic and alarmism is counter-productive. He spoke to Freddie Sayers:


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The UN estimates we will live much longer — possibly up to about 100 years by the end of the century — we’ll all be literate, we’ll have much higher education, all these other things. So it’s important to recognise global warming is not the end of the world. It’s not the reason why kids should say, “why should I bother going to school?” It’s a problem among many other problems that we need to fix.
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Lomborg challenges seven common myths about climate change:

Myth 1. “Small islands are doomed by rising sea levels”

We constantly hear Micronesia, the Maldives or Seychelles or something is going to be flooded and they’re only like a metre or two metres above sea level…What happens is most of these islands are coral islands, so they have actually occurred because they break off dead coral when there’s storms and wash it ashore. That accretes to the island and makes the island higher. At the same time, of course, a sea level rise makes the island lower. But it turns out that at least for now, and probably in the foreseeable future, the accretion is higher than the sea level rise. 
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Myth 2: “Extreme weather events are killing more people”

If you take a graph of how many people die from climate related disasters, we have good data for that for the last 100 years. In the 1920s, about half a million people died each and every year from climate disasters. A lot of them were floods and droughts, especially in China and India that you’ve never heard of. What’s happened since then is that it’s declined dramatically. So in the 2010s, we were down to 18,000 deaths, so about 96% reduction in deaths. And last year, it was down to 14,000 or so in 2020. And in 2021, we don’t obviously have the whole year yet, but it looks like 2021 is set to be even lower at about 6000. 
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Myth 3: “Climate lockdowns are a good solution” 

The first thing to realise is despite the fact that we shut down the entire world in 2020, we still emitted almost as much. We probably cut our emissions about 6% globally. That’s because we still have to heat our homes. We sat at home and Zoomed instead and used electricity in that way. So when you shut down one thing you end up doing something else. And so yes, you can cut your emissions a little bit. But it turns out that it’s really hard to shut down dramatically. For example, when China was most shut down, it still emitted 84% of its normal emissions.
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Myth 4: “Electric cars don’t harm the environment”

Electric cars are being sold as net zero. But what they actually are is that they’re zero when they’re driving. But much of the energy that you tank up your car, unless you live in Norway, is basically fossil fuel. And of course, most of the battery is produced in China or somewhere else where it emitted a lot of co2 typically from coal fired power plants.
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Myth 5: “Polar bears are going extinct on melting ice caps”

First of all, remember the polar bears lived through the last time there was probably no ice in the Arctic, which was five to eight thousand years ago. So clearly, it’s not the end of the world for them. But also, and we need to recognise we’re still seeing a trending upwards of polar bears…We’ve probably gone from somewhere between five and ten thousand polar bears, up till today, where we have about 25,000 polar bears
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Myth 6: “Stop eating meat to save the planet”

The reality is that going meat free is only going to do a little bit for climate. We often hear that, ‘Oh, it’s 50% of your food intake’, and you only hear the 50% so you can apparently reduce 50%. But it’s only 50% of your food emissions. So the reality is, when you look at the total impact it’s about 4%.
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Myth 7: “Wildfires are getting worse, and proof of climate change”

We’ve actually seen that wildfire has been declining in amount of burnt area pretty much every year since 1900…Overall, Australia for instance had one of its lowest burns ever. It used to burn in the early 1900s about 12% of the area of Australia every year. It went down to about 6-8%, typically in the early 2000s. In 2019/20 it burned a little less than 4%.
- Bjorn Lomborg, UnHerdTV

Our thanks to Bjorn for a lively and informative discussion.

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Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

New World Order….

If you know my posting I always come back to the great conspiracy as the back splash of every situation. ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’. This has been politics since the stone ages, and lets look at just the last couple of decades. PLUS once a government takes power, it does not give it back. Global powers use them to tighten control on humanity.

1) 9/11. A big deal as an incident, but not so big as trend. Our first response was to make the secret agencies massively increase in size and authority. In USA we got the Patriot Act, a Vast mess of endless funding, millions of agents and workers, and laws hugely relaxed so they could get snooping. Now as you know, this HUGE force of dozens of stealth agencies are now turned onto Policing the American people by Biden. Garland, head of the DOJ has sent the FBI to investigate parents protesting CRT and mixed bathrooms in schools.

White supremacist terrorism is the deadliest threat to the United States, President Joe Biden told lawmakers” and so the political thought crimes witch hunt begins as the DOJ is loosened on Americans.

2) WMD – you know that, how a entire war was justified, and for 20 years and over a Trillion $…. and the Military Industrial Complex and their Lobbyists now have unbridled power in America.

3) COVID-19… The entire world discards freedom, becomes totalitarian, destroys the global economy and internal passports, vax mandates, and the Billionaires all doubled their wealth in 2 years. The Pharma Industrial Complex amasses Vast power in Washington. (we still are living high off the 30 Trillion conjured out of air and spent globally, wile hugely reducing the production of goods and services, and that will be a disaster.) For a really, really, bad Flu. Sweden and South Dakota showed the entire response was self harm, hot help.

4) Global Warming. This is the main one building. The world will be turned upside down, and for what? To put controls on the world’s people of the most extreme kinds. The elites will double their money yet again, the workers lose half of theirs, as the redistribution of wealth from the lower to the higher continues, as in every good crisis; not let go to waste. Sure, slow down CO2, but instead it will be used to further the Great Reset, and you will own nothing – as these things continue.

Government use these things to take control, not to make us safe.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago

Good list of Myths. Can I add some FACTS?
FACT 1: The Earth has too many people on it. This is unsustainable.
FACT 2: Much of what humans do that is destroying the planet, global warming or not, is because there are too many people. Par example, cutting down forests in the Amazon and other places, to feed the voracious demands of ever increasing numbers.
FACT 3: When ever-increasing numbers of humans clash with animals, the animals always lose. A tiger may eat one Indian, but Indians chop down forests, jungles, whatever is there, to make more farmland (or whatever environmental crimes they commit in India), because more people need to be fed.
If Greta even mentioned this, I’d be in the streets marching with her. Fridays for the future should include a commitment to drastically reducing the size of the population to sustainable levels. Deal me in on that!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I agree. And all politicians and many people don’t want to touch the over populated argument.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I agree with you, but with the caveat that the population problem is mostly an African one. Asia, Latin America and Europe will collectively be in population decline by 2050. Africa in the same period will double its population, and it is there where:

  1. The majority of deforestation will happen
  2. The majority of large mammals will be pressed to extinction
  3. People will move by the million to escape famine, both internally, causing destabilisation within Africa, and externally, causing destabilisation across Europe.

This problem would be easy to solve through giving contraception to women who want contraception, but any mention of this is forbidden, even though it would cost almost nothing to implement, and even though it would improve the lives of Africans themselves immeasurably, as well as halt environmental destruction.

Instead climate change is the “one size fits all” for all bad things, like “dried up rivers” and “flooding” when, at least in much of Africa, such phenomena are quite clearly caused by humans destroying water catchment systems through overpopulation and mismanagement, and not, climate change.

Last edited 1 year ago by hayden eastwood
Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor
1 year ago

Ever wondered why Africans think that Westerners are scared by their fertility and want to find ways to reduce their population? Hence conspiracy theories relating to Covid vaccines (for example) spread quickly. Anyway family size is only slightly connected to availability of contraception, other social and economic factors are far more important but much harder to deal with. Improving general health provision and stopping governments being dependent on western aid will be much more important.

rodney foy
rodney foy
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

What, like have a nuclear war or something ?

J B
J B
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce
  1. Population is predicted to peak and then decline, so no worries for you there.
  2. Well, as the years have gone by humans have certainly come up with ways to stop being so destructive. We aren’t killing whales anymore for candles, for example. The more well fed, educated people we have, the more likely we are to have someone come up with cleaner energy ideas, and the less reason we have to use dirty cheap energy.
  3. Deforestation is decreasing sharply. Advances in farming technology mean we use less to yield more.

What do you advocate? Killing people off?
Some reading: https://www.humanprogress.org/debunking-the-overpopulation-alarmists/
https://www.humanprogress.org/what-do-the-numbers-show-about-global-deforestation/
I recommend this website in general.

Last edited 1 year ago by J B
Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

This Malthusian worry about overpopulation in the third world is just bunkum. Go back a hundred years or more, and the birth rate in the West was just as high as it is in the poorer parts of Africa or Asia today. Reproduction rates in the West have fallen dramatically since then, to below replacement rates in much of Europe. The developing countries are not far behind. This has happened because of economic development, which has also fostered innovation to reduce our impact on the environment. A power station supplying energy to a town or city – even if it is fossil fuelled – is way better than people cooking and heating their homes by burning wood, and we have devised ways to make our power stations progressively cleaner. Similarly with transportation – even a petrol engine car nowadays kicks out far less pollution than a petrol car of just a few years ago.
The environmental lobby seems to promote a solution that would take us back 100 years to a time when there was no international travel, no cars and when people lived on a meagre diet (for ordinary people, that is.) Lockdown forever.
Rather than advocating for the West to go back 100 years, we should be encouraging – and helping – the economic development of the poorer countries. This could be achieved with a lower environmental impact than that caused by Western development because we have already devised some greener technologies, with more to come. If we do that, then global population growth will cease to be a problem.

James Joyce
James Joyce
1 year ago

With respect, I disagree. We–the West–should not help anyone before we help ourselves. Take this Corona–“no one is safe until everyone is safe” bunkum.
I understand some in the UK are upset that foreign aid was cut. Of course there has to be a careful, thorough and fair analysis of what the West in general and the UK specifically “owes” to the Third World. Helpfully, I’ve done this analysis for you. The correct amount is zero.
I’m still gobsmacked that anyone can think that overpopulation is not a problem–even the problem. You’re wrong.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  James Joyce

The West could do with consuming a bit less and becoming a bit more self sufficient. The rest of the world needs to tie a knot in it and stop thinking that they can pop out loads of kids then send them to the West.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

Lomborg’s views on various issues are correct but he believes climate change is msn made. That is ridiculous and why I never read any of his material. The climate changed dramatically before we evolved and there is no empirical evidence to link us to temperature changes. There is certainly no physics that supports the argument, but of course that is never discussed because the mantra is that the science is settled.

Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

He probably has to say climate change is man made to get his articles published. He would be cancelled otherwise.

Max Beran
Max Beran
1 year ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

I guess you are right. I’ve always wondered how anyone as clear sighted and analytical about the economics and social aspects fails to go the extra mile and give us more on why the problem is minimal. Okay, as he says, he’s a social, not a natural scientists but, that doesn’t stop natural scientists straying way outside their nominal expertise on the grounds that they are citizens as well as scientists. Nor should it stop his antenna from twitching at how “evidence” is skewed and games are being played. Of course if he was to come clean and say global warming et al is all a load of tosh then he wouldn’t have anything to say on those other topics about solutions or material for his book!.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

What? No evidence? Do you live under a rock? The evidence is vast, well researched, carefully reviewed and now denied by only a very few nutters: are you one of those? Are you a flat earther tho’? Do you wear a tin foil hat tho’?

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

When science meets politics, it becomes politics. Climate change politics is politics and should be analysed as such.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

I don’t doubt the amount of CO2 humans have created in the last 200 years has damaged the planet and needs to be solved. I think globalisation accelerated it and we need to shrink back to more local self sufficiency. However I think climate change, the political movement, is not about the climate, I think it’s a convenient brickbat in the same far left activist vein as XR, BLM and trans ideology. It’s a shame because I’m an environmentalist at heart but watching the Davos crowd pretend to care so much about the little people and the planet, well it just stinks to high heaven.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cheryl Jones
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Nurse! Crank alert!

rodney foy
rodney foy
1 year ago

There’s a lot of interesting stuff here. My immediate worry is that, if we concentrated only on the middle section, we would think we don’t need to do anything. In reality, that isn’t what Bjørn is saying, but it’s what global heating deniers will pick up on.

I don’t even think Greta Thunberg would disagree with the first section. Doom mongering won’t help

Last edited 1 year ago by rodney foy
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
1 year ago

Firstly – how is it that almost all governments of the first and developing world managed to enact severe lockdowns for two years & then have vaccines produced in record time and managed to even enforce strict vaccine mandates & bring in vaccine passports, all mostly in unison and tandem and quick sequence. All based on a few “scientists” & their charts!

How are the same governments in such disagreement over climate change that is being talked about for decades- about how much needs to be done, who needs to do more, how to go about it and then failing 25 times before? And this is for an supposedly even more disastrous scenario than Covid ie in a scenario in which we are absolutely doomed !

Secondly – they are doing their theatre in Glasgow, jet setting stars and celebrities in complete shameless contrast to what they are preaching.

Thirdly – there appears to be something wrong with some of Bjorn’s assessment. I am unsure about his assumptions. He has taken issue with all the big change suggested and called them complete rubbish. I get some of what he is saying but reducing meat consumption cannot JUST be reducing emissions by 4%. And it is complete conjecture to say that by saving money on meat, we will spend it on flights. In a growing population scenario meat eating becomes less and less viable especially when industrial animal farming has become cruel and poor in husbandry. The practices that are being adopted to bring meat to the world are insane. It is no longer natural animal farming.

Similarly for cars, electric is a start in the right direction. It will improve & I do agree with him on innovation – we will get better& better at finding solutions.

Basically, we are NOT heading for extinction but we DO have to reassess our responsibility and respect for Earth and all Earthlings. If we currently perceive ourselves to be at the top of pyramid with all other creatures beneath us, it is a fallacy.

Our quest is not for survival but without respect and responsibility we might eventually find it becomes one.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
1 year ago

If you haven’t read Bjorn’s “False Alarm” please do.I object to being called a GW denier but I will admit to being a skeptic. I used to support Greenpeace but stepped away when, as a shipmaster, I was witness to two of their actions, where I was able to question the workers and management (separately). In both cases (one in Sweden, one in Spain) Greenpeace were picking on people (Company and Workers) who were innocent. On the other hand I do commend one of Greenpeace’s founder members – Patrick Moore – for his “Fake Invisible Catastrophies amd Threats of Doom”. AND If you think that the Science is settled – have a look at “UNSETTLED?” by Steven E Koonin.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago

There are TOO MANY PEOPLE consuming TOO MUCH PLASTIC TAT and stuffing TOO MUCH FOOD in to their greedy faces. That’s it

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago

Surprised by two things -no mention of hydrogen as a way of storing energy generated by wind / solar etc, and no mention of adaptation to a warmer world – relocating low lying cities, better flood defences, cheaper and more effective passive cooling systems. And also no mention of the greening effects of increased CO2 – the earth is already significantly greener (ie more trees, vegetation generally) than it was several decades ago. And finally, if trends continue, the likely actual decline in global population by mid century

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
1 year ago

I was put off by his style, too emphatic and scatter gun, not as measured as I would have liked, but agreed with more than I expected to. Particularly that a progressive carbon tax is the best way to create a momentum for change with a level playing field. It would fund innovation and should have been started 20 years ago. It is odd how we look back over two thousand years and trace the influences over centuries yet even 2030 seems a long way away and 4021 has no significance at all. If we want to hedge our bets pricing fossil fuels out is better than running out of them.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
1 year ago

Is it possible that the focus onto Climate Change rather than environmental pollution and degradation was orchestrated by big Corporations and governments that are invested in fuelling the consumer economy and flooding the world with ever more stuff while simultaneously ensuring the loss of soil and desertification of vast areas by chemical sprays, fertilisers and industrial farming methods?

Last edited 1 year ago by Glyn Reed
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago

In my opinion this approach to global warming is not stupid. Invention is indeed a driver for many good things (if that is what people do with the inventions…). I just hope that the whole climate thing gets people to stand still and think though. Invention also has made us sometimes much less human and more like machines at time. That is the more important point to consider.
There is a lot of work to do make a world where all can have a decent life and reasonable health. This will need changes in the way we organise our societies: this usually means in stead of top down bottom up. Get rid of the lobby!!!, have a social system that helps people help themselves (Radica by Hilary Cottam) rather than calculated one for all systems, a medicine where patients are central and not a medicine that is dumped on patients, based on and addiction (bay patients and doctors) of pills that promise a solution for all problems, an agriculture that happens in farms that are living units run by people with an enthusiasm for their work rather than financiers with spread sheets.
This will mean different things for different people and this is perfectly fine because we are all different and in our differences we can progress. It is uniformity that causes the biggest issues. Open debate and interaction, acceptance of differences is the only way forward. A world of humans who see and hear what is around them rather than having earbuds in listening to their music…

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
1 year ago

I’ve watched the interview and it’s a decent book advertisement. I’m familiar with Lomborg’s work for over 15 years now and it has been interesting to see the gradual and subtle shift in the statements he pronounces with so much certainty.

Now, we’re at: The planet will only warm by 3 °C, which is a problem, but it isn’t a problem, because everyone will be richer, especially Björn Lomborg. It’s a bit like a self-help guru who writes a book about how to get rich by writing a book. People keep falling for it.

So, this week, we’ve had Lomborg, industry shill Michael Shellenberger, and in-house COVID hysteric Tom Chivers all pronounce that AGW isn’t really a problem because Technotopia is coming, and the best thing to do is shit on environmentalists by burying them all under strawman arguments, and by associating them with the hypocrite elites that will only use AGW to get richer and more powerful. Now, to prevent a herd mentality on Unherd, I wonder who will be interviewed as a counterweight. Paul Kingsnorth would be excellent, of course, but I fear he’s way past and beyond all this BS.

Everyone will be rich, especially Björn Lomborg.

Last edited 1 year ago by Neven Curlin