Bjorn Lomborg’s Academic Credentials Examined

I don’t care that the director or CEO of an advocacy organization concerned with poverty is an active academic. Indeed, my view of active academics is that many are largely incompetent in areas of life other than their specialized field. If that. So really, if you told me there is this great advocacy organization out there run by a well established active academic I’d figure you had that wrong, or I’d worry a little about the organization. On the other hand, everyone should care that university positions be given to active academics with credentials. So, when the University of Western Australia got paid off (apparently) to give Bjørn Lomborg a faculty position everyone looked at the UWA and said, “WUT?”

That was a situation up with which the members of that university community would not put, to coin a phrase, and the public outcry put a quick end to it. This is appropriate, because according to a new post by Stefan Rahmstorf at RealClimate, “… apart from one paper in 1996, Lomborg has never published anything in any field of science that was interesting or useful to other scientists, or even just worth the bother of contradicting in the scientific literature.”

I’ve talked about Lomborg here before. Here I noted,

There is currently a twitter argument happening, along with a bit of a blogging swarm, over a chimera of a remark made by John Stossle and Bjorn Lomborg. They made the claim that a million electric cars would have no benefit with resect to Carbon emissions. The crux of the argument is that there is a Carbon cost to manufacturing and running electric cars. When we manufacture anything, we emit Carbon, and when we make electricity to run the cars, we emit Carbon, etc. etc.

Lomborg is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. But here I want to focus on one aspect of why he is wrong that applies generally to this sort of topic….

We also talked about how Lomborg is wrong on electric cars here. Lomborg has been stunningly wrong on climate change, which is mainly what he is known for these days (being wrong on climate change, that is). And his wrongness on sea level rise and Bangladesh is not only stunning as well, but also, downright dangerous.

Stefan’s post looks in detail at two things (and in less detail at many other things). First, is the question of whether or not Lomborg is an actual practicing academic with a good publication record and all that. He is not. Stefan’s analysis is clear.

Second, is a more detailed look at Lomborg, sea level rise, Bangladesh, and all that. This is especially interesting because Stefan is one of the world’s leading experts on sea level rise. He has two peer reviewed papers on the “top ten most cited” on the Web of Science (which has well ove 40,000 sea level rise related papers), which are heavily cited. Stefan’s post is a must-read because of Stefan’s overview of sea level rise, aside from the stuff about Lomborg. Go read it.

So go read the post, learn about Bjørn Lomborg’s academic qualifications, how wrong he has been about sea level rise, and some other good stuff.

I suspect we are not going to see much more about Bjørn going forward.

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14 thoughts on “Bjorn Lomborg’s Academic Credentials Examined

  1. I’m afraid that you might not want to open this door to actual practicing academic and good publication record. There are dozens….if not hundreds of academics who’ve published trendy and comical global warming dire reports over blackbirds stop singing, cabbage shortages, cougar attacks increasing, and beer shortages. If you are going to clean up this particular mess….let’s go all the way and fire a bunch of bogus academics who have degrees but can’t do the “job”.

  2. Most surprising thing I discovered is that I have a better academic credentials than Lomberg. I figured with one paper published every 12 to 18 months in a low level journal and not of widespread interest outside my field I would outclassed by someone like Lomberg.

  3. @ Pepsi Dude : Really? Citations needed – I suspect those claims you make there aren’t what you crack them up to be.

    I hope this is the beginning of the end for Lomberg – at least in terms of him being taken seriously by anyone. Sadly, I fear his brand of false dichotomies (eg. fight poverty or global overheating instead of hey, lets tackle both!) and downplaying the climate realities and their implications are still going to keep getting undue airtime. After all, what’s the Denier’s alternative – wheeling out clowns like Monckton yet again?

    1. Sorry StevoR, but there are so many bogus reports. I will try to help you on these:

      Cougar attacks increasing: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=c5e6120a-be10-4497-8f32-cd8585e5ca33&k=51234

      Beer shortage: http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/the-worst-effect-of-global-warming-so-far.html

      Cougar attacks increasing: http://www.moonbattery.com/archives/2007/08/global_warming_31.html

      black birds stop singing: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=3fb_1196385865

      It’s not worth playing the intellectual game….go back to writing bogus material and drinking beer….while it’s still there.

  4. Pepsi Dude, thanks for the links.

    Indeed, changes in wildlife distribution and behavior have resulted form climate change. There is at least one entire journal devoted to this (broad) topic. The change i cougar distribution is one example of many.

    Changes in the supply of foods and other negative effects on agriculture are a big deal. This is real and important.

    You happened to pick what sound like silly assertions, but they are valid assertions and they are only itty bitty tiny bits of the much larger problem.

    Nice technique, there Pepsi-guy! Pointing out that global warming isn’t real or important by pointing out evidence it is real and important but doing so in such a way that makes you look like a whiny baby. Thanks for the excellent messaging.

  5. “It’s not worth playing the intellectual game”

    As you demonstrate. Do you choose that route out of laziness or lack of ability?

  6. I may be wrong, but I have the impression that Lomborg gets more visibility out of book writing than peer reviewed studies. His books don’t make him any more of an academic but they do avoid all that nasty criticism by one’s peers prior to publication.

  7. John Mashey’s link isn’t up to date. One of the parties behind the new government was against subsidizing Lomborg, so he doesn’t have financial backing, and his Global Warming Isn’t Serious Enough To Do Anything About It organization will not be returning to Denmark.

    Despite Lomborgs lack of academic credentials, he has an image – gay, informal – that makes him useful.

    Off topic, but related: In a recent interview, failed HP CEO Carly Fiorina acknowledged climate change while declaring her fealty to coal. Unfortunately, the interviewer didn’t know enough to ask the necessary follow-up questions.
    http://www.vox.com/2015/8/21/9186313/carly-fiorina-climate-wrong

  8. Pointing out that global warming isn’t real or important by pointing out evidence it is real and important but doing so in such a way that makes you look like a whiny baby.

    That isn’t much different than anti-vaccination folks trying to argue that vaccine packaging inserts (placed there by drug companies) support the case that drug companies can’t be trusted.

  9. Cosmicomics: thanks for reminder.
    I have no idea if it helped, but one reason for writing thst pirce was to give certsin people more support to argue to keep him out.

  10. Pepsi_dude,

    Your links merely show people dismissing ideas (notably all based on media reports – it is not clear to what extent those are grounded in *academic* reality) without providing any evidence to the contrary.

    The one about cougar attacks is the most obvious, as it has been known for centuries that an increase in prey generally results in an increase in predators. If at the same time humans are encroaching on the same living area, as the scientist in the National Post mentioned, you increase the chance of human-predator contact. This century-old knowledge is rebutted on the moonbattery site with…derisive remarks, rather than evidence. It is also notable that climate change is only mentioned in the title. The scientist himself calls it “natural variation”.

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