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Chapter 2:

Why do we hear so much bad news ?




Lomborg suggests (p. 42) that "we" may have a biological disposition for excessive worrying. This is maybe not true for all humans, but it could be true for some. Recent DNA research has shown that the people of most of Europe, plus northern and central Asia and the Americas, originate from people living in the areas east of the Caspian Sea shortly before the maximum of the ice age, when the climatic conditions must have been even harsher there than today. Such people could hardly survive there without a strong disposition to anticipate coming dangers, and their descendants may have inherited that disposition. When we look at Lomborgīs figure 10, we may get a hint of this. The figure gives an impression that people living in hot climates worry less than others. We may imagine southerners sitting in the shade of the palms, singing "Donīt worry - be happy", while northerners, wearing raincoats, bent forward and facing the wind, think of all that might possibly go wrong. If this is so, then the disposition of northerners to worry much might be the cause why northern nations today have better stan- dards of living than southern nations. So, when people in Nigeria, India and Turkey show relatively little concern for the state of the world, this could be an indication that they are relatively unwilling to face problems and solve them. If this is the explanation for the observed pattern, then we should consider worry as something good. It is maybe sensible to cry "Wolf!" several times, if it turns out to be correct just once. Worrying may, in itself, have negative consequences, e.g. when it makes people unhappy, or when women refuse to bear children because there are so many problems in the world. But considering how often the "wolf" has actually visited our environ- ment, or being close, it would hardly be wise to worry less than now. Worrying is like an insurance against some- thing bad, and who would say that it was wrong to make an insurance if the accident did not actually happen ?

Lomborg has actually been confronted with the idea that worrying is good, because it acts to prevent dangers. This idea was presented to him in the Danish debate in 1999 ("Fremtidens Pris", chapter 11), and when he read the preface to State of the World 1998; here, just below a paragraph cited by him, is a quote from New York Times that the very reason why Rachel Carsonīs predictions did not come true, is that, by writing her book, she made people act to prevent the described dangers. But Lomborg denies to acknowledge such ideas. Throughout all of his writing, he never admits that acting to protect the environment leads to anything good.


P. 37 bottom left: WRONG STATEMENT

"Ten years later all fears had evaporated - acid rain only damages trees under very rare conditions." Error: This is simply wrong, as explained in the comments to chapter 16. The theories on forest death that originated in the early 1980s have by and large been substantiated, and the negative trend for the condition of the forests has continued, especially in Germany. So, this is an example that things actually continue in a negative direction, but we do not hear about it, because it is no news anymore. Lomborg thinks that this example supports his point, but actually, it shows just the opposite.