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  • Environmental Skeptic Offers Fresh Perspective on Global Warming Debate

    If you take Al Gore and replace his global warming apocalypticism with a careful pragmatism and his insistence for energy taxes with a love for human innovation, research and creativity, you will end up with someone similar to Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjorn Lomborg.  At The Heritage Foundation Bloggers Briefing this Tuesday, Lomborg said he considers global warming to be a legitimate threat  – one that is exaggerated and can be handled through the power of human ingenuity.

    Lomborg shows his other way to tackle global warming in his new film Cool It.  Forget about onerous cap-and-trade legislation, which Heritage estimates would cost the average family of four $3,000 by 2035.  Instead, Lomborg sees solutions in further research and experimentation.

    One of many possible solutions mentioned in the film is predicated on something Benjamin Franklin discovered when a volcano in Laki, Iceland erupted in 1783.

    Franklin made a connection between the volcano’s eruption and the change in the climate.  His theory was confirmed in 1991 when scientists determined that the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines cooled the earth’s overall temperature by almost one degree Fahrenheit.

    A group of entrepreneurs who work for an organization known as Intellectual Ventures have now come up with a way to cool the earth’s temperature using a hose that injects sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere.  The hose imitates what the eruption in Pinatubo did to lower the earth’s temperature.  Such efforts to control the earth’s temperature are known as geoengineering.

    There are, of course, legitimate objections to the idea.  But if injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere won’t work, maybe another geoengeneering proposal called Cloud Brightening will.  The goal of Cloud Brightening is to make marine clouds reflect more sunlight back into space, which would offset Co2.

    Geoengineering is still very new and purposely changing the earth’s temperature by even one or two degrees may have considerable unintended consequences that include ocean acidification or even international tensions (India becomes indignant because they miss their monsoon season).  However, if global warming is a real threat (which is still highly debatable) and a geoengineering solution like Cloud Brightening doesn’t work, America’s innovative history can assure that a solution will come soon enough.

    Lomborg said the U.S. government should spend 0.2 percent of GDP on researching the issue, but there is no reason private organizations and philanthropists can’t take care of the job without Uncle Sam’s help.  If there emerges evidence showing that global warming is a serious threat to America’s future, philanthropists, environmentalists and concerned citizens won’t hesitate to fund projects like Intellectual Ventures.

    Once all the “poverty fighting” programs of Johnson’s Great Society began, charitable giving decreased dramatically, and when welfare reform took place in the 90’s, giving started to increase again.  This gives us good reason to believe that individuals will give to a cause if the government gets out of the way.  But the federal government has already decided for us that global warming is a pressing issue, and its solution, is once again, more taxes.  If individuals decide for themselves that global warming is a serious threat, the solution would mean voluntary, private funding for the things that made America great in the first place: ingenuity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

    Mark Chenoweth is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to Environmental Skeptic Offers Fresh Perspective on Global Warming Debate

    1. Ben, MN says:

      Geoengineering = considerable unintended consequences is what I would focus on in this debate. Playing with the environment to stave off a supposed issue is a bad idea. Please see fictional example in TV series Stargate Atlantis the show was "Brain Storm". Where Geoengineering is tried and considerable unintended consequences happen.

    2. Andrew, Arizona says:

      The link saying global warming is debatable isn't working for me currently.

      Shooting aerosols into the sky is not a viable solution for climate change. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas – gases that re-radiate heat in the atmosphere. If we use aerosols to block sunlight from entering the atmosphere, it does limit the amount of light entering the troposphere and thus limits heat being re-radiated, but it does nothing to decrease ocean acidification which is caused by carbon dioxide not temperature increases. Meanwhile, as we continue to release greenhouse gases at the same rate, we'll have to continue to shoot aerosols into the sky.

      I'm not an economist but can't innovation be motivated by limitation? If we make energy a little more expensive, wouldn't there be more incentive to form more efficient technology?

    3. Pingback: » Environmental Skeptic Offers Fresh Perspective on Global Warming Debate - Heritage.org (blog)

    4. MMonides says:

      Genius! The best way to solve climate change isn't via efficient market mechanisms like Cap and Trade that stimulate a move away from Heritage's foreign oil co sponsors towards clean US renewable energy, but rather by adding *more* reactive chemicals to the atmosphere and rolling the dice! Excellent plan!

    5. Gary "Father&qu says:

      I appreciate the insight and the article.. however, my main concern is the CO2 hoax.. Global Warming or Global Cooling? Last Decade? Temps have been decreasing. If anyone finds out how to control sun spot activity be sure to write about it.

      Science is all about disproving other theories. Global Warming scientists can point to all of the brown cows they wish, but that doesn't prove all cows are brown. So too pointing out a myriad of indicators, drawing a correlation between this raw data and man made CO2, is not proven by more examples and saying the "evidence" says this.

      It is advanced by proving sun spot activity or water vapor NOT having a greater affect on global warming than .07% of the atmosphere.. man made CO2..

      Thanks again for the post… good stuff!

    6. mike, VA says:

      while Bjorn Lomborg may be less threatening than Al Gore, starting from the premise that Global Warming is real indicates he isn't a lot smarter than Gore. the planet's weather is driven by the sun. human effects are a minor and insignificant factor (at least thus far).

      it would take a direct affront on the planet to impact it's ability to respond to the sun. for instance, it is conceivable that man could intentionally change the albedo of the earth (by covering all land surfaces with a highly reflective coating, as a simplistic example), and change the plante's weather. but other than doing something so stupid, the planet can pretty much deal with man. on the other hand, intentionally impacting the planet's natural responses to solar 'weather' patterns is asking for trouble.

    7. Joel Cincinati says:

      MMonides you are obviously brain washed I have no problem with oil and neither should you since it plays such a huge part of the WORLDS economies and produces so many tings that give and keep us alive. The heritage foundation (even if they do get, which I don't believe, oil money is not about just energy) they are about how and why government is operating and intruding into our lives. We need the government our of many of these decisions and out of our way so that all of us can live our lives. If you want to do something about those influences don't drive, a care drink out of plastic in any way, don't use hospital services at all (they use a lot of plastic taken and made from oil) and go live in a hut somewhere.

      There is not market for the carbon taxes. Doing Cap and Tax would literally be like handing money over to al gore to be fed into a fire. This is a false illegitimate idea of what a market is and how they work. you must have a product that people want to buy. Not a government mandated ficticious product that will only be used to control people and their actions. Keep in mind mister dull mind that ALL of the added cost will be past on to YOU and ME. Just like taxes the corporations don't and wont pay taxes the consumers do.

      Wake up and smell the crap that you are shoveling.

    8. IWO V 26 says:

      The earth warms, the earth cools. The prime drivers are:The orbit of the earth around the sun varies from elliptical to nearly round; the earth tilt in relation to the solar plane varies from 24.5 degrees to nearly zero degrees and the earth’s rotation wobbles on its polar axis like a top running down. Greenhouse gasses are not the major component, CO2 is not even the most effective greenhous gas and man made contributions do not comprise the majority of CO2. Attempting to alter temperature by reducing human contributions even 50-60% is like removing a pail of water from lake Erie. Follow the money that is what Cap and Trade is all about – - NOT saving the planet.

    9. Shawn Marshall Hardy says:

      There is no established link between CO2 generation and global warming – in fact the correlation is probably opposite – global warming causes increased atmospheric CO2. Why is Heritage putting forth such a weak pundit for AGW alternatives?? He must be somebody's butt buddy?

    10. Jan/NJ says:

      "Forget about onerous cap-and-trade legislation, which Heritage estimates would cost the average family of four $3,000 by 2035"

      Which "Heritage" estimates? Sure, no bias there. And Al Gore did not bring an apocolyptic view and I know that because I actually watched the documentary. He was sharing facts gleaned through scientific research over years and relaying it to lay people in a way they could understand what is truly at stake here if our actions do not change. I would dare say the absolute lacadaisical response of some to this is what has now brought about events globally that will continue to worsen. But then that is what the new crop of greedmongers want. Let climate change get so beyond our control that people like Lomborg who see an opening can get rich off geoengineering schemes that are dangerous to the processes of this planet. Some of us are not as obtuse as you would like us all to be. The solutions to this are not in geoengineering and convoluted techno fixes. The solutions are through ourselves using common sense and changing our ways. Sustainable agriculture, reforestation, conservation, and yes, a carbon tax to hold polluters accountable that actually gets back to consumers which spurs that conservation, jumpstarts the economy, and leads us to a clean energy future. This is nothing but a geoenginering scam.

    11. TJ, Princeton says:

      Lomborg's geo-engineering approach defies logic. Instead of tackling the source of a problem that he acknowledges exists, with technology that is ready today, his solution is instead to appropriate billions of dollars of someone else's money to develop an entirely new global experiment for which there will be no opportunity to test the hypothesis, and from which there will be no turning back from any unintended consequences on a global scale.

      Secondly, who will be in charge of this planet-wide experiment? What global governance entity will be created to fund the research, determine the course of action, implement the experiment, and corral all nations into agreement? How will rogue nations be prevented from launching their own geo-engineering experiments?

      It's far less expensive, by orders of magnitude, to just deal with the source of the problem, using readily available technology.

      Cap-and-trade is a successful market-based system that has already been used by Reagan and Bush Sr. Odd to see conservatives vilifying it now.

    12. Spiritof76, NH says:

      "Lomborg said he considers global warming to be a legitimate threat". That statement is utter nonsense. The earth is coming out of the ice age. It goes through these cycles at a minimum period of 10,000 years. The variations in tilt, rotation and orbit around the sun and the cycles of the sun are the major factors of climate changes. To think that CO2 is impacting the climate reveals the ignorance associated with the pseudo-science. To top that by proposing injecting chemocals to change the temperature by one degree (cooler) is insanity. It must be a sign of great hubris to think that the scientists know so much about the climate in such a detail to predict before hand the effect of chemicals in the atmosphere. If we have to inject SO2 to cool the earth, how come the environmental wackos objected to high sulphur coal burning? How come diesel with high sulphur content is banned in the US? The best thing we can do is to employ these pseudo-scientists in more productive areas- such as growing food with elevated CO2 levels.

    13. Ted in Arizona says:

      The only thing worse for the global environment than ignorance is hubris. If we were so smart, would we be in this situation? In college, they taught that "dilution" was the pollution solution. Ultimately, the scale of global environmental problems we see requires humility rather than hubris. According to the Bible, the pollution solution is contrition rather than dilution: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/2z33g35r and http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/johnson-desert…. and it begins with the Church (Body of Christ) as seen in II Chronicles 7:13-14. No doubt, God given intelligence would play a part in fixing things, but if our lives are lived to glorify ourselves, God will not honor the effort (Haggai 1:9).

    14. Henk, The Netherland says:

      The whole global warming discussion is moot. We must change our ways no matter what! http://thesecondopiniontribune.blogspot.com/2010/

    15. NK, CA says:

      I was surprised to see this article on this website. "Lomborg said the U.S. government should spend 0.2 percent of GDP on researching the issue,…" Do you know how much money that is? It's close to 40 billion dollars if my math is right. What evidence do we have (and what moral right?) to ask that tax payers pay for this dubious scientific endeavor? A second mistaken premise of the article is the argument that the government should get out of the way to pave the way for private sector to fund this research! Laissez-faire, yes — but only because the legitimate function of the government is to protect its citizens from the initiation of force — not so that global cooling with aerosols can be attempted.

    16. Bill says:

      Global warming is not a new thing and it is a natural. Even the proponents of Man Caused Global Warming admitted they tried to hid this fact. So why is this hoax still being discussed as a FACT?

      Instead we need to develop more natural resources which will lower the cost of energy and help the poor of the world. There is no reason we can not do this in a safe practical way. We need regulations that prevent real pollution not imagined hazards!

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