Lomborg-errors

When Lomborg refers to personal communication
 
      How Lomborg cheats                                  General issues                                              The Lomborg Story, page 12      



ORAL COMMUNICATION

    If two persons communicate orally, e.g. by telephone, only the two of them know what was actually said. Lomborg has sometimes utilized this fact. That is, he speaks with somebody in a private communication, and afterwards he tells the general public what the other person said to him. When this other person then protests and claims that he did not say what Lomborg claims he said, then Lomborg turns the situation around and says that the other person is dishonest. It goes like this: "To me, in private, he admitted that so and so, but apparently in public he does not admit that this is what he really means." By using this tactics, Lomborg may obtain that
- people think his version is supported by specialists in the field
or that
- the specialist whom people have trusted up to then, is exposed as being probably dishonest and therefore not trustworthy
- or both.

 
WHEN LOMBORG SPOKE WITH JON FJELDSÅ
    
   Jon Fjeldså is an ornithologist and an internationally respected expert in biodiversity. He works at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.
   When Lomborg´s articles first appeared in the Danish Newspaper Politiken in January 1998, Fjeldså had an article in another Newspaper, Information, in which he criticized Lomborg´s figures. Ten days later, Lomborg was interviewed in Danish radio, and here he declared that his figure about extinction - that 0.7 % of all species go extinct in 50 years - was backed up by the leading expert in the field, Fjeldså. Asked about the source for this, he referred to Fjeldså´s article in Information. Fjeldså was of course strongly provoqued by this, because he said in the article just the opposite, viz. that Lomborg´s figures were based on an erroneous method of calculation. Fjeldså managed to have a large reader´s letter published a few days later in Politiken. Here, he wrote authoritatively that Lomborg´s figures on the rate of species extinction are not realistic. However, two weeks later, Lomborg had a response to that in Politiken. Here he wrote that although Fjeldså in public criticizes his figure, in a private telephone talk he has said otherwise. He writes than when asked directly, Fjeldså has admitted that  that the 0.7 % is  `calculated correctly´ and now only states that the data basis is uncertain. Fjeldså became very angry about this, but was given no opportunity to reply. On the contrary, Lomborg continued to repeat his claims. Even in a newspaper article ten months later, he still slated Fjeldså for not having check on the sources and just making pitiful vague statements that the 0.7 % figure cannot be falsified. Fjeldså was given no opportunity to reply.
   I once had an opportunity to talk with Fjeldså at his office in the Zoological Museum. As soon as I mentioned the word `Lomborg´,  his whole body began to tremble in rage. He declared with great emphasis that he would never any more in his life have anything to do with that scoundrel. I understand why. But the sad thing is the proof that Lomborg was successful in his tactics: The objective was most likely to eliminate the leading Danish expert on biodiversity loss, in order to break down opposition against Lomborg´s claims. This goal was reached, as Fjeldså declared that he would never anymore deal with that person ( it would have been dangerous to his health if he did).


WHEN LOMBORG SPOKE WITH JOHANN GOLDAMMER

   Johann Goldammer is senior scientist at the Max Planck Society for Chemistry, Biogeochemistry Department, specializing in forest research, director of the Global Fire Monitoring Center, and the leader of the UN-FAO/ECE/ILO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire. When Lomborg wrote his first book in 1998, he wanted to give the impression that forest fires in 1997 in Indonesia were not especially large. To back this up, he writes: "The independent fire expert Johann Goldammer said that `there is no indication at all that 1997 was an extraordinary fire year for Indonesia og the world at large´ " . As a source for this, he refers to personal communication 1998.
   One year after, in 1999, the Indonesian government and donor agencies signed off on an official report presenting data that the fires in 1997 were "the largest fire disaster ever observed". 
Goldammer contributed data to this report, and later was co-editor of a report which confirms the extent of the fires . In this later report, the chapter on Indonesia was written by Goldammer himself. " So what Goldammer published in 1999 and later was exactly the opposite of what he allegedly said to Lomborg just one year before, in 1998. 
   It seems very unlikely that Goldammer´s opinion in 1998 was the exactly opposite of his opinion in 1999.  One hardly avoid to conclude that Lomborg seriosly misrepresented what Goldammer had told him orally.
   More details on this subject are found in the forest chapter on Lomborg-errors.  



WHEN LOMBORG EMAILED WITH EIGIL KAAS

   Eigil Kaas is a meteorologist and was in 2000 research leader at Denmark´s Climate Center .
   In the year 2000, Lomborg had a column in the Danish newspaper Politiken, where he wrote that global warming is not due to manmade CO2 emissions. He wrote that
"the total yearly emission of greenhouse gases has declined since the 1980s by 25 percent." Some readers of the newspaper protested against this absurd postulate, and a lengthy debate with readers´ letters pro et con ensued.
   Eigil Kaas saw this debate. He did not want to write a readers´ letter, but he
took contact to Bjørn to correct his mistakes. He backed this up in a long series of emails. Lomborg, to his defense, claimed that what he was speaking of was actually the "effective emissions", i.e. that part of the emisions which remain in the atmosphere. Kaas sent another email in response and repeated that Lomborg´s indirect calculations of emissions were not valid. He wrote: "With my understanding . . .  you cannot use the term effective emissions for that which you calculate."
   At the same time, Lomborg responded to criticism in the newspaper columns. To defend his postulate, he wrote: "As noticed by Eigil Kaas from Denmark´s Climate Center (private email) I must specify, however, that we are talking of effective emissions .  .  . " Reading this, his opponents contacted Eigil Kaas and asked him if he had really said so. Kaas sent copies of his emails, and it was clear from these what Kaas had actually said. Kaas had written to Lomborg, with emphasis, that he did not accept that term.
   Now the opponents had a case - they could state directly that Lomborg had lied about his correspondence with Kaas. So they had a letter published where they wrote inter alia: "Lomborg has before his latest contribution  .  . been informed that he is wrong, and what is wrong. EK [Eigil Kaas] has to us expressed his regret that because he was pressed for time, he has not had time to protest against Lomborg´s contribution. What makes this case interesting is that it both demonstrates Lomborg´s method and his lack of honesty when the defects of the method are disclosed."
  
Provoqued by this, Lomborg phoned the opponents and asked for documentation. At the same time  there was a very intensive correspondence between Lomborg and Kaas. Kaas provided extensive data sets suitable for calculations of total emissions of greenhouse gases, but when the calculations showed that the emissions had not been declining, Lomborg did not accept them. In one of the emails  Kaas wrote to Lomborg: `It is OK if you quote as follows: Even though the calculations are technically correct, EK points out that the method cannot be used to say anything about the manmade emissions of greenhouse gases´".
   However, Lomborg wrote something completely different in an addendum to his regular column in the newspaper. He wrote: "PS: Mette Hertz and Henrik Stiesdal questioned . . .  my credibility, based on a statement by one researcher about one sentence. Unfortunately that researcher has now gone on vacation without having been able to provide documentation for his statement. Therefore I have  not forgotten the reply, but regrettably I must postpone this until I get this documentation."
   When Kaas saw this printed in the newspaper, he got angry and wrote in private to Lomborg: " . . .
I do not think that was fair. Remember that I actually wrote an email to you in which was said how you could refer to me."
  
The end of the debate was a long article by Lomborg printed in Politiken after 4 months of debate. This article was one large concentrated sneering at his opponents. There are sentences like: "It may seem surprising that H&S have not provided any better documentation for their central postulate." His opponents wanted of course to have a reply to this article. That request was turned down by Politiken´s editors. The readers were never informed that Eigil Kaas did not agree with Lomborg´s claims.
    More details on this case may be read on Lomborg-errors here.
WHEN LOMBORG SPOKE WITH JOHANN GOLDAMMER

WHEN LOMBORG EMAILED WITH IAN STIRLING
   
   Research scientist Ian Stirling is a member of the Polar Bear Specialist Group under IUCN.
   He was contaced via email by Lomborg in January 2007 when Lomborg was preparing his text on polar bears for the book `Cool it!`.  Lomborg´s agenda was that he wanted to oppose the general picture given by the media that polar bears are on the decline. He had received a paper from Stirling on population trends in polar bears in the West Hudson Bay area. He then wrote once more and asked: " You have the long-term development of the WHB polar bear population from 1981 till
1997. I was wondering if you have the data set till today."
Stirling discussed his request with a colleague, and wrote to the colleague: "I think our data etc are strong but I certainly don't feel like handing anything out to anyone else before we are finished doing our own ongoing
analyses. . . For guys like Lomborg, at the moment I think I will stick to giving him things we have
already published." Lomborg got a copy of this correspondence and wrote in return: "Of course I understand about concerns if you still haven't published the data." Furthermore, Lomborg asked him if he could explain the large difference in two different overlapping data sets for the year 1985 (one data set had 1500 bears, the other 800 bears).
In response, Stirling tried to give an explanation of methodological problems and also had another specialist send Lomborg a short reply stating that the discrepancy between the data sets is due to various methodological artifacts, which are commonplace. He added that this type of phenomenon is explained in a manuscript that he hopes will be published shortly, and he adds: "I will be glad to send you (Bjorn) a .pdf at that time."
When `Cool it!´ was published, it contained on its pages 3 to 4 the story of the polar bear population in West Hudson Bay. Here, Lomborg presents a graph, combined by him from two other graphs, and writes in the text that the population had soared from just 500 in 1981 to 1500 in 1985. Actually, this would have been impossible, because polar bear populations can grow maximally 3 to 4 % per year. Furthermore, with the data given to Lomborg, including uncertainty intervals, a statistician like Lomborg should have concluded that the difference between the two data points for 1981 and 1985 is not significant. Lomborg knew that, but concealed it. In a note in the British edition (but not included in the American edition) he refers to the explanation given to him by Stirling ; it is formulated in a cryptic way, however, which probably no reader will understand fully (". . . maybe why population is seen as initially increasing"). In the same note, however, Lomborg, as so often, makes a hint that the experts were not cooperative: "Stirling et al. are coming out with a new data set, but they would not share it before it was published."
So what was the result of Stirling and colleagues´ responses to Lomborg´s emails? First, Lomborg chose to cherrypick those figures which gave the largest rise from 1981 to 1985, even though he knew that there were differing estimates for that year and that the rise was not real. And secondly, whereas he wrote to Stirling that of course he understands why scientists will not give him unpublished data, he managed to insinuate to the general public that Stirling had something he wanted to conceal.

   More details are given on Lomborg-errors here.


WHEN LOMBORG HAD STEPHEN SCHNEIDER INTERVIEWED

   Stephen Schneider was one of the world´s most prominent climate change researchers. He also was a prominent critic of Bjørn Lomborg, contributing to the January 2002 issue of Scientific American in which `The Skeptical Environmentalist´ was torn to pieces. He died in July 2010.
   Rather unexpectedly, Schneider appeared in the Lomborg´s film, `Cool it!´ directed by Ondi Timoner. There was not just a single footing, but many footings showing Schneider. How did that come about? In an interview, Timoner says that she tried to interview many people that don´t agree with Bjørn Lomborg, and she was met with lots of resistance. Finally she succeeded to film Schneider. She says that "I actually had to talk Schneider into participating as he was throwing me out his office". Also, persons closely affiliated with Schneider say that the interview was made in an unethical way. 
People who see the film get the impression that Schneider is `a grumpy old man´ - no wonder, considering that he was filmed against his own will.
   Obviously Lomborg would have an interest in demonstrating that near his death, Schneider finally gave in and agreed with Lomborg on important issues. The footings are cut in such a way that we get this impression to some extent.
Thus, Schneider was very much against  geo-engineering and adaptation as methods to `fix´ the climate problem in an easy way. But in the film, he has been pressed to say: "Geo-engineering is a way to buy time until we become better at solving the problems, it is not a permanent solution." So the audience will understand that Schneider agrees with Lomborg that we can have geo-engineering. The film was published after Schneider´s death, so Lomborg could make very selective cuts and give a distorted impression of Schneider´s  opinion without protests from the man himself.
   As an extra effect, Lomborg dedicated the film to Schneider, as if to give the impression that Schneider and Lomborg were aiming towards the same goal.
   More details are given on Lomborg-errors here.


WHEN LOMBORG SPOKE WITH HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT

   Helle Thorning-Schmidt was the leader of the opposition in the Danish parliament until October 2011. From then onwards, she is the Danish prime minister.
   In an interview published by British media, Lomborg says
that he has been the victim of politics. He met with the woman who’s now Prime Minister (Helle Thorning-Schmidt). Allegedly this should have happened four years ago, when the two talked together after a TV interview. To qoute Lomborg: `I said: “I’d love to show you how the Copenhagen Consensus is a good idea,” and she looked at me and said: “I think that probably might be right, Bjørn, but I will just get so much more mileage out of criticising you.”‘
      She was asked about this by a Danish journalist (Jan 26th 2012), and the journalist reports: "The prime minister dismisses completely that she should have said like that, and she has no further comments."
   Whom are we to believe?  Lomborg can be completely free to postulate this, because he knows in advance that the prime minister will refuse to enter into any debate with him, i.e. there is no risk for him in saying that. Considering what we know about other cases, when Lomborg refers to what people have said or written to him in private, it is very likely that here again, it is a lie.