Is it true? Could Bjørn Lomborg — long a favourite of climate change sceptics for his view that the fight against global warming was...

fleet-of-shipsIs it true? Could Bjørn Lomborg — long a favourite of climate change sceptics for his view that the fight against global warming was too costly to be worth the effort — now have joined the Al Gore/James Hansen “We must act now” camp?

Colour us highly sceptical.

We’ll give Lomborg this: he’s certainly good a self-promotion. But his professed take on climate science has always been, at best, disingenuous (see “Debunking Bjorn Lomborg: Part I, Part II, Part III” and The Lomborg Errors Website — yes, there’s actually a whole site devoted to his misrepresentations).

So pardon us if we tend toward suspicion upon hearing his sudden pronouncement that a global deal on climate change is urgent, and that he and the economists at the Copenhagen Consensus will be coming up with their own proposals for such an agreement in advance of the UN talks on global warming this December. Especially upon hearing that his preferred scheme is setting loose a fleet of 1,900 wind-powered ships to blast ocean water into the atmosphere to create sun-blocking clouds around the globe.

Odd, coming from someone who’s long advocated the importance of cost-effectiveness.

Point one: Such a cloud-making scheme on a global level will certainly be costly.

Point two: Simply building such a large fleet will be costly as well, with the construction process itself requiring large amounts of energy and generating large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Point three: The scheme hasn’t been tested at such a scale, or at anything close to it.

Point four: Blocking incoming sunlight might cool the air, but will do nothing to reverse the damaging and accelerating effects of ocean acidification caused by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

And, point five: While many once-sceptical scientists now acknowledge geoengineering should be studied for possible consideration if climate change starts spiraling out of control, their studies are also finding many schemes could have unintended and even dangerous global consequences.

So a world-travelling fleet of saltwater-spewing ships is better than no-cost conservation, low-cost efficiency measures, other efforts to reduce carbon and a shift toward clean, renewable energy sources how, Mr. Lomborg?


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