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The Skeptical Environmentalist - The Library of Skeptical Environmentalist Measuring the Real State of the World Bj¿rn LomborgAuthors: Bja Rn LomborgAbout: Complete information ·

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  • The Skeptical EnvironmentalistMeasuring the Real State of the World

    Bjrn Lomborg

  • published by the press syndicate of the university of cambridgeThe Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

    cambridge university pressThe Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 100114211, USA10 Stamford Road, Oakleigh, VIC 3166, AustraliaRuiz de Alarcn 13, 28014 Madrid, SpainDock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

    http://www.cambridge.org

    Originally published in Danish as Verdens Sande Tilstand 1998and Bjrn Lomborg 1998

    This revised and updated version, partially translated by Hugh Matthewsfirst published in English byCambridge University Press 2001as The Skeptical Environmentalist

    Bjrn Lomborg 2001

    This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exceptionand to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,no reproduction of any part may take place withoutthe written permission of Cambridge University Press.

    Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

    Typeface Swift 9/12 pt System QuarkXPress [se ]

    A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

    Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data

    Lomborg, Bjrn, 1965The skeptical environmentalist: measuring the real state of the world / Bjrn Lomborg.

    p. cm.Originally published in Danish as Verdens sande tilstand, 1998.This revised and updated version first published in English by Cambridge University

    Press, 2001T.p. verso.Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 0 521 80447 7 ISBN 0 521 01068 3 (pb.)1. Global environmental change. 2. Pollution. 3. Human ecology. I. Title.GE149 .L65 2001363.7dc21 00-068915

    ISBN 0 521 80447 7 hardbackISBN 0 521 01068 3 paperback

  • List of figures page xiiList of tables xviiiPreface xviiLanguage and measures xixAcknowledgements xxiiPermissions xxiv

    Part I: The Litany

    1 Things are getting better 3The Litany 3Things are better but not necessarily good 4Exaggeration and good management 5Fundamentals: trends 5Fundamentals: global trends 6Fundamentals: long-term trends 8Fundamentals: how is it important? 9Fundamentals: people 11Reality versus myths 12Reality: Worldwatch Institute 13Reality: World Wide Fund for Nature 16Reality: Greenpeace 17Reality: wrong bad statistics and economics 18Reality: water problems 19Reality: Pimentel and global health I 21Reality: Pimentel and global health II 24Reality versus rhetoric and poor predictions 27Reality 30Reality and morality 32

    2 Why do we hear so much bad news? 34Research 35

    The file drawer and data massage 36Organizations 37The media 39Lopsided reality: sporadic but predictable 39Lopsided reality: bad news 40Lopsided reality: conflict and guilt 41The consequences 41

    Part II: Human welfare

    3 Measuring human welfare 45How many people on earth? 45The changing demographics 47Overpopulation 48

    4 Life expectancy and health 50Life expectancy 50Life expectancy in the developing world 51Infant mortality 53Illness 55Conclusion 58

    5 Food and hunger 60Malthus and everlasting hunger 60More food than ever 61Lower prices than ever 62The Green Revolution 62

    Relative or absolute improvement? 64Regional distribution: Africa 65Regional distribution: China 66Conclusion 67

    Is inflation-adjusted GDP a reasonable measure of wealth? 68

    6 Prosperity 70Poverty and distribution 71Ever greater inequality? 73Poorer still? 75More consumer goods 78More education 81More leisure time 82More safety and security 84Fewer catastrophes and accidents 85

    7 Conclusion to Part II: unprecedentedhuman prosperity 87

    ix

    Contents

  • Part III: Can human prosperitycontinue?

    8 Are we living on borrowed time? 91Resources the foundation for welfare 91

    9 Will we have enough food? 93At least grain per capita is declining 93Declining productivity 95Limits to yields? 96

    Biomass 99What about ordinary peasants? 100Do we still need the high growth? 100Grain stocks are dropping! 101What about China? 102Should we worry about erosion? 104What about fish? 106Conclusion 108

    10 Forests are we losing them? 110Forests and history 112Deforestation: a general view 112Deforestation: how much? 114How much forest? 115Conclusion 117

    11 Energy 118We are a civilization built on energy 118Do we have enough energy to go on? 119The oil crisis 120How much oil left? 121Optimists and pessimists arguing 124Ever more oil available 125Other fossil energy sources 126Nuclear energy 128Renewable energy 129Solar energy 133Wind energy 134Storage and mobile consumption 135Conclusion 135

    12 Non-energy resources 137The pessimists bet on resources running out

    and lost 137Falling prices 137Cement 138Aluminum 138Iron 140Copper 143Gold and silver 144Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium 145Zinc 145

    Other resources 146Why do we have ever more resources? 147Conclusion 148

    13 Water 149How much water in the world? 149The three central problems 151Not enough water? 152Will it get worse in the future? 154Will we see increased conflict? 156Conclusion 157

    14 Conclusion to Part III: continuedprosperity 159

    Part IV: Pollution: does it undercuthuman prosperity?

    15 Air pollution 163Air pollution in times past 163What is dangerous? 165Particles 167Lead 170SO2 172Ozone 173NOx 174CO 175And the developing world? Both growth and

    environment 175Conclusion 177

    16 Acid rain and forest death 178

    17 Indoor air pollution 182Indoor air pollution in the developing world 182Indoor air pollution in the developed world 183

    18 Allergies and asthma 185

    19 Water pollution 189Oil pollution in the oceans 189Oil in the Gulf 191Exxon Valdez: still a catastrophe? 192Pollution in coastal waters 194Suffocation in coastal waters 195Health effects from fertilizer 201Pollution in rivers 202

    20 Waste: running out of space? 206

    21 Conclusion to Part IV: the pollutionburden has diminished 210

    x Contents

  • Contents xi

    Part V: Tomorrows problems

    22 Our chemical fears 215Cancer: death 217Cancer: incidence 222

    1-in-8 and other lifetime risks 223The fear of pesticides 226

    Establishing thresholds through risk analysis 226

    Pesticides and cancer 228Cancer in animal experiments 231Natural and synthetic pesticides 232Synthetic estrogens 236Synthetic estrogens: a fall in sperm quality 238

    Organic farmers 240Synthetic estrogens: the cocktail effect 241Synthetic estrogens: breast cancer 242Synthetic estrogens: should we worry? 244Conclusion: should we use pesticides? 245

    23 Biodiversity 249How many species are there? 249Is biodiversity important? 250How many go extinct? 251The claim of 40,000 species 252A model backup 252What do we lose? 253Models and reality 253The biologists reaction 254Check the data 254The biologists response 256Conclusion: what are the consequences of

    seriously overstating the extinctions? 257

    24 Global warming 258The basic greenhouse effect 259The long-term development of the climate 260The climate, 1856-2100 263How much does CO2 affect the temperature? 265How much does CO2 affect the temperature?

    Particles 266How much does CO2 affect the temperature?

    Water vapor 269

    How much does CO2 affect the temperature? Clouds 270The ozone hole 273

    Are there other causes? 276Are the scenarios realistic? 278Are the scenarios realistic? The 40 new scenarios 280Consequences: agriculture 287Consequences: sea level rise 289Consequences: human health 291Consequences: extreme weather 292Consequences: present and future weather 297The cost of warming 300The cost of cutting CO2 302Then what should we do? 305

    The double dividend: improve the environment and make money? 308

    Objections: cut CO2 and make money 312Objections: the price of the future 313Objections: the fear of catastrophe 315

    Summing up 317More than meets the eye 318Conclusion: scares and sound policy 322

    Part VI: The Real State of the World

    25 Predicament or progress? 327The Great Fable of the Litany 327The Real State of the World 328Yet we worry ever more 330Setting priorities and risks 333Weighing risks 336The costs of the Litany 338

    Genetically modified foods the encapsulation of the Litany 342

    Caution when invoking the principle 348Continued progress 350

    Notes 353Bibliography 435Index 506

  • 1. World exports of goods and services, 19502000. page 8

    2. Grain yields for the world, thedeveloping world and the USSR area, 19612000. 9

    3. Fertilizer use, kg per person for theworld (195099) and for the developing world (196299). 11

    4. Two attempts at showing thedevelopment of access to clean water and sanitation. 20

    5. Percentage of people in the Third World with access to drinking waterand sanitation, 19702000. 22

    6. Number and rate of tuberculosis cases in the US, 194599. 23

    7. People undernourished in numbers and percentage, 19492030. 24

    8. Infectious disease death rates,19702020. 26

    9. The connection for 117 nations between GDP per capita and the 2001 Environmental SustainabilityIndex. 33

    10. Percentage of respondents who evaluate the environmental quality of their local community, their nation and the world as very or fairly bad. 35

    11. World population 17502200, the the UNs medium variant forecast 2000. 46

    12. The demographic transition showing birth and death rates in Sweden and Sri Lanka. 46

    13. Increase in the Earths population in absolute figures and as a percentage, 19502050. 47

    14. Percentage of urban population indeveloping and deveoped countries and the world, 19502030. 49

    15. Life expectancy at birth in Britain,12001998. 51

    16. Life expectancy for industrializedc

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