The recent publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, a book by Bjrn Lomborg (Cambridge University Press, 2001), ignited an international controversy. Lomborg, a Danish political scientist with a background in statistics, argues in his text that claims made by environmentalists about global warming, overpopulation, energy, deforestation, species loss, water shortages, and a variety of other issues are exaggerations unsupported by a proper analysis of environmental data. His message was widely publicized in the popular media and championed by political commentators traditionally opposed to environmentalist policies.
Outraged voices within the mainstream scientific community quickly answered, however, that Lomborgs work was deeply flawed. His text, they said, misrepresented the actual positions of environmentalists and scientists, and his analysis was marred by invalidating errors that include a narrow, biased reading of the literature, an inadequate understanding of the science, and quotations taken out of context.
In its January 2002 issue, Scientific American published the feature "Misleading Math about the Earth," in which four environmental expertsStephen Schneider, John Holdren, John Bongaarts and Thomas Lovejoycriticized The Skeptical Environmentalists arguments on global warming, energy, overpopulation and biodiversity. Lomborg has since written a detailed online rebuttal to our feature; we also have some responses to that rebuttal.