I've just finished reading two books. The first was Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, by Bjorn Lomborg. The second was Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future, by Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran. These two books fit together pretty well. Some have said that "Cool It" suffers from being a rehash of Lomborg's earlier books, the only difference being that it's focused on global warming. I haven't read Lomborg's earlier books, and I think focus can be a good thing. It is a bit short at 164 pages plus a mammoth compendium of footnotes, references and index. The book also becomes repetitive at times, as Lomborg seems determined to lead us to the same conclusion from a number of different starting points. That's okay, because he's arguing a point here, and he's certainly building a solid case for it. So what is his point? In a nutshell: global warming has been oversold. Yes, it's a genuine problem. Yes it will cause some harm. Yes we should be doing something to mitigate the effects of global warming. But no. . . We shouldn't be going into hysterics and backing the most radical (and expensive) schemes that anybody can possibly dream up. Lomborg comes at the problem with a cost-versus-benefit analysis. How much harm will global warming actually cause in lives and dollars? What will be the cost in lives and dollars of the various proposed efforts to combat global warming? And, most critically, what else could we accomplish if we devoted those resources to other worldwide problems: malnutrition, clean drinking water, malaria control and the like? He concludes that we simply have higher priorities in the world today than global warming. We can save many more lives and prevent much more loss of property by spending our resources elsewhere. A modest tax on carbon emissions -- say $2/ton -- would make sense, he believes. Radical action to curb CO2 emissions does not. It's a bad deal. This book is certainly convincing. I often speak of "putting things in perspective" with a numeric comparison, and that's exactly the idea this book revolves around. Then I checked some environmentalist websites and was astonished by the vicious attacks they had aimed at Lomborg. These people were really up in arms over his suggestion that global warming just might not be the end of the world. Unacceptable! Betrayal! Shill for the oil companies! However, in reading their comments, I was unable to find anything that knocked any serious holes in his argument. Some argued that numeric values on climate change (in lives and dollars) was unacceptable, but I wondered how else one would quantify it. Some argued that Lomborg erred in using the IPCC report as the basis for his analysis. The truth is much worse, they claimed. New data has come in since that report was issued, they said. The climate may be moving toward some kind of "tipping point" that the IPCC report doesn't acknowledge, they suggested. I have to look askance at that. Earlier when I dared to question the IPCC report, my environmentalist friends beat me around the head and shoulders with how credible and rock-solid reliable it was. You can't have it both ways, people. And you can't decide global energy policy based on vague speculation about "tipping points". Furthermore, none of the critics offered alternative numbers. Lomborg is out there trying to quantify things, and I don't see anybody else doing that. That alone puts him ahead of the pack, in my estimation. For those of you interested in this subject, I recommend the book. It's not a hard read, it's not a particularly long or dry read, and it convinced me that Lomborg is on the right track. Next post. . . Zoom!