How will right-wing media react to former climate skeptic Lomborg?

››› ››› FAE JENCKS

Right-wing media have frequently cited Bjorn Lomborg to downplay the danger of global warming. In his forthcoming book, Lomborg will reportedly declare global warming a "chief concern facing the world today" and recommend spending $100 billion annually on clean energy technology financed by a global carbon emissions tax.

Lomborg: Global warming "a challenge humanity must confront"

Bjorn Lomborg's new book declares global warming "a challenge humanity must confront." On August 30, U.K.'s The Guardian reported of Lomborg, "[t]he world's most high-profile climate skeptic is to declare that global warming is 'undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today' and 'a challenge humanity must confront.' " In his latest book, which will be published next month, Lomborg will reportedly call for "[i]nvesting $100bn annually" so that "we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century." Lomborg recommended "pouring money into researching and developing clean energy sources such as wind, wave, solar and nuclear power," and advocates for a "tax on carbon emissions that would also raise $50bn to mitigate the effect of climate change."

Previously, Lomborg said climate change "is emphatically not the end of the world." In his 2007 book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, Lomborg stated that while "climate change is a problem ... it is emphatically not the end of the world." He also contended that "the benefits from moderately using fossil fuels vastly outweigh the costs. Yes, the costs are obvious in the 'fear, terror and disaster' we read about in the papers every day, but the benefits, though much more prosaic, are nonetheless important." Lomborg also suggested that the money spent combating climate change would be better spent in other areas that do more "social good."

Right-wing media has frequently cited Lomborg to minimize threat of global warming

Conservative media figures and outlets have frequently cited or hosted Lomborg to downplay the potential danger of global warming; to make the point that attempts to prevent it would be overly expensive and ineffective; or to promote the idea that public officials should instead focus on more pressing issues. Fox example:

Lomborg appeared in 2006 Fox News special that centered upon purported lack of "scientific consensus about" impact of climate change. On May 21, 2006, Fox News aired a special titled Global Warming: The Debate Continues. As Media Matters has previously noted, the special gave viewers the impression that there is a significant divide among scientists regarding the cause and effects of global warming. One of these contributors was Lomborg, who claimed that climate change was not an imminent threat and that "the data, the facts tell you that many, many things are moving in the right direction."

Beck hosted Lomborg to discuss how "our priorities are all mixed up" on climate change. On the September 21, 2006, edition of his CNN Headline News show, Glenn Beck hosted Lomborg to discuss how "our priorities are all mixed up" on climate change and his decision to switch from being an environmental activist to a "skeptical environmentalist." On the show, Lomborg claimed that "climate change is happening, but the real question we have to ask ourselves is: How much can we do against it? And how much is it going to cost?"

Beck featured Lomborg in two-hour special on "the other side of the climate debate." On May 2, 2007, Beck aired a two-hour special on "the other side of the climate debate" titled Exposed: The Climate of Fear. In the special, Beck introduced Lomborg as "an expert on the economic impact of global warming," but noted that he is "not a scientist." Lomborg said during the interview:

With global warming you're going to see more heat deaths, but what most people don't tell us is we're also going to see much less cold deaths.

And actually, many more people die from cold than from heat, so for England alone you mentioned the number 2,000 people. Actually that's what we expect will die from more heat waves in 2080, but what we have to remember is that 20,000 fewer will die from cold each year in 2080.

Now I'm not sitting and saying we should go for global warming, but I'm saying we need to know both.

He also said, "We worry intensely about climate change, but the point is we can do very little good at very high cost."

NRO's Goldberg called the science of the environmental movement into question citing research by Lomborg. In a May 20, 2008 column in the Los Angeles Times, National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg criticized the "irrational" environmental movement for "claiming to be so much more rational and scientific than those silly sky-God worshipers and deranged oil addicts." Goldberg used Bjorn Lomborg's analysis of the Kyoto Protocol to bolster his argument by falsely suggesting that climate change is not a grave threat to the polar bear population. Goldberg suggested that, contrary to the statements of environmentalists, the polar bear population is "thriving," and that, according to Lomborg, adopting provisions of the Kyoto protocol "would save exactly one polar bear."

Lomborg repeatedly appeared on Hannity & Colmes to claim that effects of global warming are "exaggerated." Lomborg was a guest on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes twice in 2007 to discuss climate change and its potential effects [via Nexis]. On March 21, Lomborg criticized Al Gore for his "wildly exaggerated stories about what's going to happen" and "using the catastrophe sense to push through legislation ... that are actually fairly bad, in the sense that they will cost a lot and do very little good." On September 4, Sean Hannity introduced Lomborg as an author who "debunks numerous popular myths about global warming, such as sea levels rising, decreasing polar bear populations and the recent increase of hurricanes." In his appearance, Lomborg discussed rising sea levels that result from global warming and claimed that he doesn't believe we will "incur a huge catastrophe" as a result.

NewsBusters writers frequently cite Lomborg in their attempts to minimize threat of climate change. On numerous occasions, writers at NewsBusters have criticized media reports on climate change using Lomborg's writings and statements as evidence that "there are far more serious problems" than global warming "facing the planet." For example, Noel Sheppard highlighted author Michael Crichton's praise of Lomborg's book, and said of Lomborg, "It is plain to see why Lomborg is such a controversial figure, as he is not afraid to call a spade a spade regardless of who might find such straight talk inconvenient."

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