|THE LOMBORG STORY
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|When Lomborg became a
In his young years, Lomborg has paid contributions to Greenpeace (without being a member), but his claims that he used to be a Greenpeace activist are not correct. He was, however, very concerned about certain environmental issues, e.g. the declining semen quality.
During the first six months of 1997, Bjørn Lomborg made a study tour in USA. During this stay, he suddenly changed his attitude to environmental issues. According to his own description, it happened in a bookstore in Los Angeles in February 1997, where he happened to read an interview with the American right-wing economist Julian Simon (who died in 1998). In several books, such as "The Ultimate Resource" (1981 and 1997) and "The Resourceful Earth" (1984), Simon claims that the "prophecies of doom" issued by environmentalists are completely unwarranted and that, in fact, the environment is improving.
It seems that Lomborg may also have been inspired by other American anti-environmentalist books, such as "The True State of the Planet" (ed. R. Bailey, 1995), the title of which is similar to the title of his first Danish book.
He may also have learned about the methods applied by certain right-wing anti-environmentalists in USA. At some universities, there are professors who pay students to read through vast amounts of text in books and reports to find sentences suitable for citing in favour of their anti-environmentalist attitude.
When Lomborg returned to Denmark in the summer of 1997, he had become convinced that general beliefs on the environment should be revised. In the late summer, he contacted the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Politiken, which, of the three largest Danish newspapers, is the one furthest to the left. Lomborg wanted to have a regular column in the newspaper, where he could write about the environment. He was not immediately given what he wanted, but he was allowed to write four so-called "kronik"s in January 1998. A "kronik" is a kind of feature article, which, in the case of Politiken, is typically 2,000 - 2,500 words.
Before this, however, he engaged a group of 8-10 of his most motivated students to form a study group that checked a lot of references to see whether Simon´s claims were correct. In this way he managed to have much larger amounts of text checked than he would have been able to on his own. And the conclusions from this "check" was that Simon was right in nearly all aspects. Lomborg´s attitude to Simon´s work has mainly been to promote the same ideas, and to do it in the same way, with the same arguments, and the same references, as Simon did.
At the beginning of 1998, Lomborg was ready to publish the four promised "kronik"s in the newspaper. They appeared on 12th, 19th and 26th Jan and 2nd Feb. The last one was authored not by Lomborg himself, but by one of his students, Ulrik Larsen. The "kronik" column in Politiken has considerable impact on public opinion formation in Denmark, and it is almost unprecedented for one person to be allotted no less than four of these in succession. In fact the editor-in-chief overruled the "debate" editor and demanded that he accept all four feature articles, which makes it clear that the editor-in-chief was very eager to promote Lomborg´s "sceptical environmentalism". More details on how the newspaper supported Lomborg can be read here.